Tag Archives: South Asia

Rohingya music, identity, and resistance

The music of Rohingya refugees plays an important role in communicating their coherent identity and expressing their resistance to the discrimination and oppression experienced in their country of origin as well as in their exile.

This informal resistance keeps their memory alive, transmitting that history through verbal and visual expressions to the new generations, and communicating information about themselves to outsiders.

These forms of expression, while suggestive of their identity and everyday resistance, occur mostly in an informal and indirect form, rather than in direct confrontation and protest. The informal means also reflect the Rohingyas’ pragmatism and coping strategies for living in the borderlands.

This according to “Music and artistic artefacts: Symbols of Rohingya identity and everyday resistance in borderlands” by Farzana Kazi Fahmida (Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies / Österreichische Zeitschrift für Südostasienwissen-schaften (ASEAS) IV/2 [2011] pp. 215–36; reprinted in Farzana’s Memories of Burmese Rohingya refugees: Contested identity and belonging (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

Below, a Rohingya song with English subtitles.

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Politics

Cross-cultural chironomia

In Tune thy musicke to thy hart: The art of eloquent singing in England, 15971622 (Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1993) Robert Toft cites Chirologia, or, The naturall language of the hand (1644) by John Bulwer as a source for rhetorical gesturing that may apply to the performance of English art songs from this period.

“Gesture in the English lute-song” by Rosemary Carlton-Willis (Lute news 94 [August 2010] pp. 8–12) gives concrete examples of the use of gestures in performing this repertory, and includes a comparison with South Asian ghazal singing, which also has a gestural tradition.

Below, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948–97) demonstrates South Asian chironomia in a performance of the ghazal Angrai peh angrai.

Leave a comment

Filed under Curiosities, Performance practice, Renaissance