The promise of sonic translation: Performing the festive sacred in Morocco

Deborah A. Kapchan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How do international music festivals produce experiences of the sacred in multifaith audiences? What is their part in creating transnational communities of affect? In this article, I theorize what I call "the promise of sonic translation": the trust in the ultimate translatability of aural (as opposed to textual) codes. This promise, I assert, produces the "festive sacred," a configuration of aesthetic and embodied practices associated with festivity wherein people of different religions and nations create and cohabit an experience of the sacred through heightened attention to auditory and sense-based modes of devotion conceived as "universal." The festive sacred is a transnational (thus mobile) phenomenon inextricable from the enterprise of sacred tourism. Such festive forms not only produce a Turnerian communitas but also create new transnational categories that mediate religious sentiment and reenchant the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-483
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008


  • Festivals
  • Islam
  • Music
  • Religion
  • Tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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