Colloquium: Re-sounding Islam—Marking Religious and Aesthetic Pluralism in the Historiography of South Indian Music

Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 4:30pm
Ring Family Performing Arts Hall


Davesh Soneji is Associate Professor and Graduate Chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s South Asia Studies Department. At Wesleyan, he will examine the long and complex history of Islamic musical production in Tamil-speaking South India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, raising significant questions about the social organization of rāga-based music, and its relationship to questions of religious and aesthetic pluralism in the cultural life of modern Tamilnadu.

Known for his work on devadāsī social history, he is the author of “Unfinished Gestures: Devadāsās, Memory and Modernity in South India” (Chicago, 2011), and is working on “Sundry Rāgas: Genealogies of Musical Pluralism in Modern South India.” He traces the presence and function of rāga-based music in social and aesthetic spaces considered marginal in mainstream histories of today’s Karṇāṭak music.

At Wesleyan, he will focus on two genres—the kīrttaṉai and the Arabic-inflected muṉājāttu—in relation to highly localized Ṣufi devotional practices, as well as formal, canonical traditions of Tamil Islamic literary production.

This event is part of the 43rd annual Navaratri Festival at Wesleyan.

Support the Navaratri Festival
This year we ask you to consider a donation to honor the legacy of this longstanding tradition and to ensure that the Navaratri Festival continues for future generations. The India Arts Foundation (IAF), founded by Madhu Reddy and other artists, has been a long-standing supporter of the Navaratri Festival as well as other arts initiatives in Connecticut. IAF’s mission is to nurture, promote, and celebrate the vibrant traditions of India in America, by supporting and bringing the work of teachers, students, and practitioners, scholars, and arts organizations to wider audiences.

This year, we are asking the community to make a donation to Wesleyan University in support of the festival. IAF will generously match community donations up to $50,000 total. All donations are tax deductible and will support the festival to ensure its continuation. Donors are invited to a post-show reception in World Music Hall at Wesleyan with Amjad Ali Khan on Sunday, October 13.

If you would like to make a donation, checks should be made out to Wesleyan University, with a note that your gift is to support the Navaratri Festival:

Office of Advancement
Wesleyan University
291 Main Street
Middletown, CT 06457

Or you can donate online here.