The Cultural Production of Displacement: Capitalist Reckonings in 21st Century Tuareg Music


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project locates guitar music at the center of how Tuareg communities navigate a multigenerational transition from nomadic life to urban settlement in northwest Africa’s Sahel and Sahara. While Tuareg guitar originated in protest anthems that fomented rebellions in Mali and Niger in the 1990s, it has since become a global popular music, expanding the commodification of Tuareg culture in transformative ways. As an ethnography of the contemporary Tuareg music economy, this project explores the shifting value regimes intersecting in the lives of artists, audiences, and record producers. The existential questions about caste, celebrity, and intellectual property that animate guitar performances and related discourse speak to broader concerns—in the Sahel and beyond—about what it means to be Tuareg in the face of global capitalism’s deepening implication in daily life.