Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Music and African American and African Studies, Ohio State University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Ethnomusicology, Columbia University
Sound and Subjectivity: Music, Modernity, and Mògòya in Postcolonial Bamako

This study examines the social formation of personhood through music and listening in postcolonial Bamako, Mali. By attending to the performance and perception of music in Bamako neighborhoods, I investigate how postcolonial modernity manifests in the everyday lives of city residents. Among Mande peoples, the largest cultural-linguistic group in Bamako, 'personhood' translates as 'mogoya' and describes a state of being in which individuals are socially recognized to be competent members of society. In Mali today, 'postcolonial modernity' refers to social, political, and economic tensions between ideals of progress, development, and nationalism and realities of violence, indigence, and globalization. Music represents a salient medium through which the personal impact of postcolonial modernity may be empirically observed and analyzed. In this project, I explore how music expresses and informs mogoya through ethnographic and historical analysis of place, performance, perception, and language. My study of music and mogoya in postcolonial Bamako situates ethnographic analysis of urban musicality within a socio-political history of Mali from 1946 to the present. Specifically, I will apply histories of post-war urban growth in Mali to questions of how urbanization has affected, and continues to affect the everyday lives of Bamako residents as articulated in and through musical practice. This study will contribute to a developing anthropology and history of sound and listening by engaging with the ideologies and realities of postcolonial modernity in an urban African context. In Bamako today, multiple lived modernities are being felt, imagined, and embodied through music. Embedded in these auditory practices are the desires and fears of uncertain, though no less resonant, postcolonial futures.