In "Stambeli", Richard C. Jankowsky presents a vivid ethnographic account of the healing trance music created by the descendants of sub-Saharan slaves brought to Tunisia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Stambeli music calls upon an elaborate pantheon of sub-Saharan spirits and North African Muslim saints to heal humans through ritualized trance. Based on nearly two years of participation in the musical, ritual, and social worlds of stambeli musicians, Jankowsky's study explores the way the music evokes the cross-cultural, migratory past of its originators and their encounters with the Arab-Islamic world in which they found themselves. "Stambeli", Jankowsky avers, is thoroughly marked by a sense of otherness - the healing spirits, the founding musicians, and the instruments mostly come from outside Tunisia - which creates a unique space for profoundly meaningful interactions between sub-Saharan and North African people, beliefs, histories, and aesthetics.
Part ethnography, part history of the complex relationship between Tunisia's Arab and sub-Saharan populations, "Stambeli" is compulsively readable and will be welcomed by scholars and students of ethnomusicology, anthropology, African studies, and religion.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 358 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
"Stambeli, Richard C. Jankowsky's ethnographic and historiographic study of this Tunisian musical tradition, is a welcome contribution to the scholarship on a North African country that is infrequently the subject of such nuanced and extended treatment....Drawing broadly on historical, ethnomusicological, and anthropological sources, Jankowsky has composed a study that offers not only meticulous analysis of the components of this distinctive musical genre and trance healing tradition, but also a sophisticated theoretical engagement with the socio-historical context that fostered its emergence." --Rodney Collins "Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute "
"Stambeli is a stunningly original, ethnographically rich, and theoretically nuanced work that nicely bridges the gap that often separates ethnomusicology from less musically inclined anthropological scholarship. Jankowsky knows his music, has spent quality time as an apprentice stambeli musician, and has used this highly focused experience in the field to think deeply about the phenomenology of spirit possession--he has immersed himself in the world of stambeli music, and we, the readers, are richer for it."--Paul Stoller, West Chester University
"Stambeli is a welcome addition to existing ethnomusicological accounts of music's role in the production of religious ecstasy. . . . Jankowsky's study is a rich, nuanced, and theoretically sophisticated ethnography of a little-studied tradition that helps further our understanding of the complex cultural history of Tunisia."
--Journal of Religion in Africa