Re-enchanting Britain through a musical idealised multicultural past: 'Al Andalus' in the UK
Marie-Pierre Gibert (Université Lumière Lyon 2-EVS)
While 9/11 and 7/7 have brought academics, media and political actors to challenge the multicultural model of the British society and have led to the development of suspicious positions towards Muslims in the UK, the last decade has also witnessed a resurgence of discourses promoting "El-Andalus" (medieval Muslim Spain) as a model of tolerant and prosperous multicultural and multi-confessional life. The aim of this paper is to explore how, in this context, civil society in general, and artists in particular, can be seen both as objects and subjects of this shift of perspective and discourses which articulate 'roots' and 'mobilities', 'current cultural diversity' and 'past multicultural heritage'. This paper will focus one particular case-study: a group of 4 UK-based musicians who are alternatively playing in two different musical formations, each formation promoting a "positive multiculturalism" in a different way. On one hand, Fantazia, an 8-piece band, labelled as "21st century roots music from Algeria, via Hackney, East London, UK » (Fantazia's myspace page), is playing with the perspective of contemporary rich multicultural encounters at the local level of the musicians' current life, yet dwelling on their foreign "roots". On the other hand, the El Andaluz Band promises to "take the audience on a wonderful journey around the southern shores of the Mediterranean, often beginning with a poetic and reflective Andalusian Nuba, then travelling on to the trance-like Sufi music of the Sahara » (El Andaluz Band's myspace page), hence advocating for a more exotic, transnational and past-rooted image of multiculturalism.