Accepted Paper:

Experiencing Sufi music abroad: the case of Sudanese living in Austria  


Eva Adam-Maxa (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

The focus here is on the popularization and re-interpretation of Sufi music and texts, and how it affects the young adults of Sudanese Muslims. It is based on fieldwork carried out amongst the Sudanese communities in Vienna enriched with four year-long observations of Sudanese mainstream media.

Paper long abstract:

The diverse Sufi tariqas which facilitated and assisted the spread of popular Islam in Sudan are undergoing a transformation into an official channel of beliefs in accordance with the state visions about what a Sudanese Islamic culture should be. Through my observations of the contents broadcasted in the Sudanese National TV, many Sufi leaders as well as composers debate about the contents and performances that are transmitted in the mainstream media. This research concentrates on the traditional ritual practice of the Tijaniyya Order, their music and texts. It contextualizes these ethnographic materials with the new socio-political milieu which emerged in the last two decades of the contemporary era.

One important question has to do with the new position that the adult generations of 20 - 30 years old are now finding themselves in. How do they interpret the sacred texts and which role does music play in their interpretations and re-interpretations of these texts? Do these new, (re-) constructed music styles characterize the urban North Sudanese? Is music an instrument to strengthen or perhaps to weaken the relation of the young immigrants with the more established Sudanese communities in Austria? Is the music text which is widely listened to by a wide array of the immigrants in Austria related to Islam or is it a form of entertainment attracting particular target groups in an effort to persistently identify with their culture of origin?

Panel W098
Islam within and across religiously diverse communities: case studies from Muslims in the Balkans and Europe