Contemporary Issues in Anthropology: Islam, Ethnicity, and Music
Instructor: Masguda Shamsutdinova, Ph.D
Eastern civilization created an Art and Music culture unique and unlike the Western. Islam is an integral part of the Eastern world, and plays an important role in world affairs and everyday life.
The world’s Islamic population numbers around a billion; as one of the major religions
of the world, Islam has produced an impressive civilization of artistic forms, which touches many different ethnicities. This course will explore the nature of group identities, particularly the ethnicities and music of Arabic, Persian, and Turkic nationalities. Students will be introduced to new sounds
and different ways of experiencing music (modes, scales, rhythms, etc.), and unfamiliar aesthetics. We will cover a variety of traditional music,including folk music (lullabies, love songs, sounds of therapy,death songs, etc.), professional folk music, ritual and religious music. The close contact with Islamic culture will provide an excellent opportunity to become familiarized with its societies and
sensibilities and will facilitate a better understanding of its social history and current development. We will discover that “Music is … a political tool, a commodity with economic significance,
a mode of healing, and many other things as well.”(Timothy Rice, President of the Society for Ethnomusicology.)
Class sessions will consist primarily of listening to music, watching films, and participating in discussions, supplemented by lectures, additional films, and in-class projects.
Course Objectives and Student Outcomes:
The long-term aim of this course is to cultivate
an understanding of Islamic cultures. Upon completion
of this course, students will be able to think about
the wider issues of Eastern culture via the specific avenue
of its music. Music, being a universal international language,
and therefore, an ideal way of exploring
a foreign culture, is one of the important tools in understanding
our diverse world.