The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

Michael A. Figueroa, presenting, “Land of Milk and Honey?: Music and the Broken Promise of Zionism in South Indian Jewry”


Welcome back Ethnoise friends,

Please join us for our first Ethnoise The Ethnomusicology Workshop meeting of the winter quarter, taking place on this Thursday afternoon, January 21, from 4:30 to 6 in Goodspeed 205.

We welcome PhD student in ethnomusicology, Michael A. Figueroa, presenting, “Land of Milk and Honey?: Music and the Broken Promise of Zionism in South Indian Jewry”.

Recording of "Oh, Lovely Parrot!: Jewish Women's Songs from Kerala"

Biography: Michael A. Figueroa is a PhD student in ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago. His research interests include music of the Middle East, Jewish music, African-American music, historiography, postcolonial studies, and the history of musicology. His dissertation will focus on the musical construction of Jerusalem as a sacred, contested space within the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Unlike the vast majority of émigrés to Israel, the Jews from South Asia did not arrive in flight of persecution. On the contrary, due to the traditionally tolerant rule of Hinduism, Indian Jews enjoyed throughout their long (potentially 2000-year) history relative privilege and security, with few exceptions. Curious then, that since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, nearly all of the 30,000 Jews from India have decided to emigrate to that country, leaving their Indian homes to fulfill the Zionist dream prophesized in the Hebrew Bible and politicized by communities in Europe. As with many other non-European groups who made new lives in Israel, broad structural inequalities have blocked Indians from enjoying full rights of citizenship, to which they are entitled as constituents of the global Jewish ecumene. These communities, which existed as minorities within India because of their religion, continue to live on the margins in the Promised Land due to their ethnicity. In this presentation, I will explore the extent to which musical changes resulted from Indian emigration to Israel, devoting particular attention to the ways in which extra-liturgical performance practices and musical ideas reflected the changing socioeconomic realities that accompanied settlement in Israel.

Ethnoise! The Ethnomusicology Workshop
Thursday, January 21, 2009
Goodspeed 205

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