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The Ebb and Flow of Popular Islamic Music Forms: Zikir Maulud Amongst Sambas Malays

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Abstract This paper describes the contemporary context of Zikir Maulud, a popular, religiously-inspired musical practice that has a long history in Sambas, a regency in West Kalimantan. The formation of a Zikir Maulud association several years ago resulted in the establishment of a monthly, inter-village circuit, one in which women figure prominently as performers and the representatives of their village. Despite this initiative, there is little evidence that Zikir Maulud is attracting new performers. The paper outlines three broad approaches to the study of Malay cultural forms, before arguing that people’s interest in Zikir Maulud is best understood in relation to changes associated with urbanisation, social mobility and new media. These social forces not only erode the forms of sociality that support Zikir Maulud as a village-based cultural performance, but result in new cultural sensibilities and modes of textuality, which shape people’s level of interest and participation in cultural forms. Here Zikir Maulud and its association with older, village-based forms of entertainment cannot compete with vernacular forms of digitalised and audiovisual entertainment that situate people in broader, translocal contexts.

Affiliations: 1: La Trobe University


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