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Creolized Aurality

Guadeloupean Gwoka and Postcolonial Politics

Creolized Aurality

Guadeloupean Gwoka and Postcolonial Politics

In the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, the complex interplay between anticolonial resistance and accommodation resounds in its music. Guadeloupean gwoka music—a secular, drum-based tradition—captures the entangled histories of French colonization, movements against it, and the uneasy process of the island’s decolonization as an overseas territory of France. In Creolized Aurality, Jérôme Camal demonstrates that musical sounds and practices express the multiple—and often seemingly contradictory—cultural belongings and political longings that characterize postcoloniality. While gwoka has been associated with anti-colonial activism since the 1960s, in more recent years it has provided a platform for a cohort of younger musicians to express pan-Caribbean and diasporic solidarities. This generation of musicians even worked through the French state to gain UNESCO heritage status for their art. These gwoka practices, Camal argues, are “creolized auralities”—expressions of a culture both of and against French coloniality and postcoloniality.

256 pages | 4 halftones, 7 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2019

Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Music: Ethnomusicology


"Camal presents a thorough review of gwoka’s evolution, as he examines the social and sonic identity of the music through stages of pure acoustic, jazz-influenced, and contemporary contextual performance. . . . Summing Up: Recommended."


“Partly a rethinking of creolization, partly an exploration of sound studies and aurality, and partly a careful excavation of anti- and postcolonial politics, this book weaves its narrative through a sustained engagement with the sounds, discourses, and meanings of gwoka in Guadeloupe. Creolized Aurality is an innovative, timely, and intellectually substantive contribution to Caribbean studies, anthropology, and ethnomusicology.”

Timothy Rommen, University of Pennsylvania

“Merging political, musical, and social analysis Camal offers a thick sonic description of the lived experience of colonialism in the French Caribbean. Creolized Aurality moves beyond a simple study of the political and musical forms of the French Caribbean and towards a true theorization of not just Antillean sound, but the sound of a postcolonial predicament. Camal asks: what does postcolonialism sound like? How is creole nationalism sonically enacted? And how can an analysis of soundscapes reveal a social and political world? The result is a powerful contribution to both Caribbean Studies and the Anthropology of sound more broadly.”

Yarimar Bonilla, Rutgers University

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
List of Online Resources
Introduction / Listening for (Post)colonial Entanglements
One / The Poetics of Colonial Aurality
Two / Building an Anticolonial Aurality: Gwoka modènn as Counterpoetics
Three / Discrepant Creolizations: Music and the Limits of Hospitality
Four / Diasporic or Creole Aurality? Aesthetics and Politics across the Abyss
Five / Postnational Aurality: Institutional Detour and the Creolization of Sovereignty
Coda / Bigidi
Basic Gwoka Rhythms

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