Exploring Aghani Al-Banat: A Postcolonial Ethnographic Approach to Sudanese Women’s Songs, Culture, and Performance

by Malik, Saadia I

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation explores the musical and personal experiences of three Sudanese women performers and understanding the textual meanings of a particular type of women’s songs labeled as “aghani al-banat” that is usually performed at women’s gatherings in Central Sudan, specifically in Greater Khartoum. The study argues that because there are many discourses about “womanhood”, culture, and gender by the post-colonial state of Sudan, aghani al-banat could stand as another narrative or another discursive space for negotiating gender/power relations and identity formation by the Sudanese women. The postcolonial theoretical approach adopted in this research attempts to provide an alternative understanding and an alternative way of knowing, that challenges those provided by imperial and western discourses, about the “realities” of the “Other” (the “third world”). In addition, the research combines different methods of data collection and data analysis. First, the work here uses in-depth individual interviews with three women performers and group discussions with some audiences, especially living in the diaspora. The study also adopts historical-textual analysis to the lyrics of aghani al-banat and narrative analysis to the in-depth interviews with the performers. The in-depth interviews with the three women performers in Greater Khartoum demonstrated the way the performers are negotiating their subject positions as performers (the “other”) and resisting norms of patriarchy, tradition, and gender discourses that all work toward controlling Sudanese women’s positions and agencies. Moreover, the historical-textual analysis of the songs showed that despite being labeled as “loose” and “bad” singing, aghani al-banat provided a discursive space through which the Sudanese women voiced their alternative narratives of social and gender relations. The songs offered both a framework of negotiating the existing relations as well as a dream of improvement. The study concludes that Sudanese women, especially the pioneering performers of ex-slave descendent origin, created their own culture and popular literature in which they contextualize the past, the present, and the future of their varied realities and fantasies.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Ohio University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:postcolonial feminist women s songs sudan


Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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