Dr Samuel Llano

Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Spanish Studies

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Research interests

I am currently a Senior Researcher in the ERC-funded project ‘Musical Exchanges across the Strait of Gibraltar’ (Cambridge-Manchester). My contribution to the project explores the ways in which scholarship on Medieval Arab-Andalusi music was used during the first half of the twentieth century to support competing yet intertwining contemporary identity projects in Europe and Morocco. Spanish and French scholarship on Arab-Andalusian music during the time of the Protectorate (1912-1956) was used to justify the European colonial presence in Morocco. In their writings, European musicologists presented Arab-Andalusian music as a European tradition born in the southern Iberian peninsula during the Middle Ages and taken to northern Africa by the Muslims and Jews expelled from Spain from the late Middle Ages on. Spanish scholars believed that, because modernity had not reached Morocco – or so they thought – Andalusi music had survived intact, although it had been neglected by Moroccans. In their minds, Spain was entitled to occupy Morocco and recuperate – though in reality to reinvent – a tradition that belonged to Spain, and to teach Moroccans the value of a legacy that was also theirs. French scholars used research on Arab Andalusian music to project onto the past, and thus redefine, the relationship between France and Spain, using Orientalist tropes to ‘Africanise’ and marginalise Spain. Moroccan scholars grounded the present on an idealised image of Andalusi culture and music to fuel modern nationalism and, in that way, to push forward the movement towards independence (1956). Using archival research, textual and musical analysis, as well as comparative methods, my research demonstrates that the musical past weighs heavily upon the present, giving rise to anxieties and dictating policies through which ethnic and national identities are negotiated across transnational and transcontinental borders. I am currently working on a book proposal tentatively titled Echoes from a Distant Present: Imagining Arab-Andalusian Music in Spain, France and Morocco, 1912-1956.

Projects

Research and projects

No current projects are available for public display