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Texts, Voices and Tapes. Mediating Poetry on the Swahili Muslim Coast in the 21st Century

In the Special Issue of Matatu: “Power to the People?” Patronage, Intervention and Transformation in African Performative Artspaper, Annachiara Raia seeks to investigate the manifold relationships between traditional and contemporary, oral and written Swahili poetry, in the utendi and mashairi forms.

Annachiara Raia
14 July 2020

Furthermore she investigates its recitation in terms of the following considerations: how have advances in technology changed the production, transmission and reception of Swahili Islamic poetry? To what extent do writing and orality coexist in a recited text? What is the nature of performer identity formation within a “discourse network” of artists—the composer (mtungaji), reader (msomaji), and singer (mwimbaji)—who, in Goffman’s words, play “participation roles” and appropriate poetry belonging to other living poets or to their own (sometimes anonymous) ancestors? In an attempt to answer these questions, she provides examples of performers and their performative craft.

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