The Transnational and Transcolonial Studies Multicampus Research Group is an interdisciplinary community of scholars in the humanities and the social sciences from throughout the University of California system. Our common purpose is to collaborate on the study of minority discourse across national boundaries (transnational) with attention to colonial and neocolonial processes (transcolonial). Our immediate research goal is to publish a series of books that will reformulate minority discourse from a comparative perspective informed by a consideration of transnational and transcolonial processes (see the definitions of these terms in "Research Program Description" on our website). The core group of 43 members: meets regularly and holds workshops and conferences; mentors graduate students with an aim to help publish their work; invites outside speakers (nationally and internationally known scholars in minority discourse as well as minority cultural producers such as artists and writers) to enrich our comparative approach; and finally, aids in pedagogical transformations in high schools and universities so as to encourage curricular changes that reflect the demographic diversity in California. Ultimately, our institutional goal is to create a Center for Transnational and Transcolonial Studies that provides linages among area studies and ethnic studies centers, as well as humanities and social science departments where the focus is often predominantly mainstream (majority discourse) or bounded by one discipline, one nation, one culture, or one language. The Center will organize research and publication, promote pedagogical development, and coordinate related research efforts at the University of California.
"'Rabbi Ifargan is approaching! Please make room to let him pass! Women! Move aside! The Rabbi will not enter the place if you stay so thickly crowded! Please, please…'
The request resonates from the loudspeakers into the forested dark valley in the Galilee region of Israel. Women reluctantly give up their places in front of the big metal fireplace where hundreds of candles are burning. Rabbi Ifargan, a young Jewish orthodox man, clad in a black cloak and a hat comes in followed by a dozen young men. It is slightly after midnight and freezing cold. The 'Tikkun Hazot' ritual is about to begin on a mountain slope by the grave of Zaddiq Yonatan ben Uziel. An elderly man who is holding the microphone starts singing popular religious songs . The crowd joins in loudly. About 300 people are standing on the muddy ground, far away from their warm beds. They are waiting for the Rabbi to start his prayers.
In immigration societies, two different strands constantly intertwine. On the one hand, immigrants seek their special ethnic identity, tending to socialize among themselves, while on the other, they are a part of the larger society, influencing it and influenced by it. In this paper, I will discuss the stories of 5 pilgrims in Israel who currently participate repetitively in rituals held at sites where sacred graves exist. I will show how for second and third-generation Moroccan-immigrants in Israel, such pilgrimages enhance continuity with their ancestor heritage. For other pilgrims it is a new tradition they choose to embrace.
Israel is an immigrant society. By 1948 the Jewish population of Israel was estimated at about 700,000. In 50 years the number has risen to about 5,000,000. Immigration of Jews, in waves, was the main reason for this population increase. In the 50s and 60s, most immigrants were from Northern Africa, especially from Morocco. These immigrants encountered a society composed mainly by people of European origin. The official cultural policy was called 'The melting pot' and aimed to create one cultural entity. The result was that North-African immigrants had to conform to the mainstream ideas and give up many of their traditions. Two decades later, composing about a third of the Jewish population in Israel, the groups of North-African origin started a struggle to recover some of their lost heritage. By the year 2000, the Israeli cultural arena became more diverse. My ethnographic fieldwork was conducted mainly in the years 1998 and 1999, with a few follow-ups during 2000 and 2001. My main focus is on a nightly ceremony conducted in the vicinity of Zaddiq graves in the northern and southern regions of Israel. A Zaddiq is a righteous person who cures ill people and helps those in need. This is accomplished by miracles, attributed to his faith in God and his distinct and holy way of life. In some aspects it is a Jewish parallel to a Christian or a Muslim saint."
Forging the New Desi Music: Transnational Identity and Musical Syncretism at a South Asian-American Festival
For three days in late April of 2002, Hollywood, California, was home to Artwallah, a multimedia arts festival of the South Asian Diaspora. "Artwallah" essentially means "one who does art," and over 65 artists and performers of South Asian heritage contributed their individual talents and distinctive voices to a collective expression that included dance, film, visual arts, theater, literature, stand-up comedy, and music. In addition to creating a temporary physical space conducive to the sharing of art and experience between participants and the audience, the festival also provided an ideological space that encouraged an inherently "hybrid" style of artistic expression. According to the festival program booklet, this body of work, "though rooted in South Asia, reflects the establishment of the home and the self in new lands." Indeed, the tension between the ancestral homeland and the cultural mainstream of North America was a thread that ran consistently through every medium of expression at Artwallah, leading to unexpected collaborations with thoroughly moving results.
In this paper, I specifically examine the music performed at Artwallah 2002, and the snapshot it provides of the emerging trends of music production and consumption among South Asian-Americans—particularly the younger second generation. Not surprisingly, the music of second generation South Asian-Americans reflects this tension between cultural and national identity through various styles of music that couple South Asian genres with the now global pop genres of hip hop and house, among others. It is my intention to query the relationship between these musical activities and the formation of a "hyphenated" cultural identity, such as "Indian-American," or the more colloquial "Desi-American." As this new Desi-American music searches for its voice, it both reflects and contributes to a maturing transnational identity among people of South Asian heritage in the complex sociopolitical context of North America.
"Peace, according to journalist Christopher Hedges (2003), is about the recovery of a narrative, a common narrative.1 This paper is an iteration of that theme. It is a narrative recounting a month-long visit to La Güinera, a neighborhood on the southern outskirts of Havana, Cuba. It is the neighborhood where several of my Cuban relatives live, and where I stayed when I went to Cuba for the first time, in August of 2001.
For the past 44 years, it has served the political interests of privileged groups in both Cuba and the United States to discursively divide the nation into two antagonistic sides: those in favor of the government that came to power in 1959, and those against it. But regardless of whether one answers to these tightly bound subject positions, the pain of absence bleeds profusely, arbitrarily, rhizomatically, into the lived experiences of those who left the island, and those who have stayed. This narrative is a tracing of one such course of history in the Cuban community."