Author:Miléna Kartowski-Aïach (Idemec - University of Aix Marseille)
Paper short abstract:
As an anthropologist and artist, singing has been an organic and poetic way to approach my field researches, always related to my own history and family memory. Singing to learn a forgotten language, to retrieve the broken thread of filiation and sometimes to face a traumatic and hidden past.
Paper long abstract:
As a grandchild of holocaust survivors, singing was a way to overcome the trauma of the genocide and fulfill the vacuum of lineage. Through singing and ethnographic field research, I re/learned Yiddish, the language which I was unconsciously already carrying since birth and could reconnect with the murdered culture of mine. Singing led me to explore the bloody lands of my family in Poland and Germany, but also to reterritorialise myself into the yiddishkayt international artistic world. Through listening old recordings, I mastered breathing, chanting, vibrating and singing Yiddish songs in the traditional way. That was a living bridge to the lost world of mine and a political act of resistance in front of the death and inner exile. I followed the same process in Morocco, tracking the judeo-berber roots of my father, lost since generations. In the villages of the Atlas Mountains, I led an ethnography with the old Muslim population who was leaving with the Jews since their departure sixty years ago. In the empty mellahs, I tried to collect fragments of judeo-berber songs, last traces of the Jewish millenary existence. The echoes of absence were running through the broken and patchy songs. Nowadays, I use singing as a collaborative and therapeutic way to help young yezidi Iraqi refugee girls, survivors of the genocide perpetrated by Daech, to reconnect with themselves organically and reterritorialise in a present of exile where their language and culture can be meaningful and vibrant.
Knowing by singing: song, acoustic ecologies and the overflow of meaning