Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Global Concerns and Sacred Musics in a 21st Century Moroccan Festival

Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Global Concerns and Sacred Musics in a 21st Century Moroccan Festival

Article excerpt


In a world becoming increasingly dominated by the realities of Western hegemony through globalization, it is more important than ever for individuals, communities, states, and nations to enter into dialogue truthfully, without fear of reprisal. Diversity is a natural characteristic of humanity, and that which we bring to this global dialogue must be understood in the broadest and most relativistic sense. We must remain conscious of standards we as individuals and collective units may wrongly apply to cultural elements outside our sphere of understanding, and never assume that them are "standards" by which all must adhere.

This tendency toward standardization happens frequently with music. Certainly the power with which Western secular music, particularly rock, has proliferated in nearly every global cultural context is irrefutable, but does this proliferation illuminate the superiority of this music by which to judge all others? Is it an aspect of yet another stage in the history of colonialism? Does globalization reinforce the expectation that all people and cultures adhere to this and other standards? How is religion and spirituality affected and how will engaging in dialogue help if these standards are already adopted by the masses? These questions arose during a six-week sojourn this summer traveling as an invited member of the North American Press, to attend two festivals in Morocco--the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music and the Gnawa World Music Festival. Having attended both festivals for the first time in 2002 I returned this year expecting equally diverse and inspiring musical and cultural experiences, and answers to these and other questions.

Morocco, one of the most liberal of all Muslim countries, reinforces this quality by offering numerous music and arts festivals annually, through which musicians and cultural representatives from Morocco and the world share their traditions with ever-expanding audience--traditions ranging from musics associated with the most sacred of Sufi rituals, to performances by musical ensembles living in exile from war-torn countries, to colloquia in which serious issues concerning globalization and the economy are explored.


This year's colloquium continued last year's topic "Giving a Soul to Globalization." Is there an intentional irony in this theme? Afire all, globalization not as technological advance but rather Western hegemony seems to be far from having a spiritual dimension. It is unclear whether we should find a way of giving soul, or if the more crucial need is to reinforce critical and non-violent resistance.

A legitimate concern is whether we have the luxury of intellectualizing this devastating condition in which cultural diversity and difference is leveled; after all--this approach could delay the more essential necessity for stabilizing critical resistance in order to protect the harmed or forgotten.

Katherine Marshall, Director and Counselor to the President of the World Bank on the Development of Dialogue on Values and Ethics began the Colloquium with a call for intellectual dialogue transcending argument, an agenda that cast a standard of decorum onto the event in which opportunities for all present to participate freely was possibly diminished. We need to critically evaluate the impetus of such a standard, including whether intellectual passivity is an end unto itself.

Mike Moore, General Director of the World Trade Organization, represents the typical Western capitalist view that globalization benefits all those who willingly participate in its agenda. For Mr. Moore, the fact that Pavorotti's recordings are available regardless of geographical region, and the availability of the Encyclopedia Brittanica for anyone in the world to acquire electronically, proves his thesis that globalization is a positive force we must support. …

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