Transnational Ties and Local Involvement: North African Musicians In and Beyond London


  • Marie-Pierre Gibert Université Lumière-Lyon 2


Music, migration, transnational networks


By following the life trajectories and networks of various North African artists principally based in the United Kingdom and in France, it becomes apparent that a common phenomenon amongst migrant musicians is that they can become trapped in a matrix which simultaneously articulates three potentially conflicting dimensions: the artists' own musical pleasure and desires; their professional constraints and opportunities; and the social, historical and personal context of their migration experiences. However, artists have developed strategies which permit them not only to overcome such tensions arising from this matrix, but to use them as a strength.

The aim of this paper is to explore a particular aspect of the above-mentioned strategies: the use of local politics to pursue their own cultural, social and political agendas within a multi-scalar perspective (local-national-transnational). Whilst musicians and/or musical promoters are well aware of the ambiguous ways in which local policies often conceive of arts as a means to promote both multiculturalism and community cohesion rather than to support artistic creation per se, some of them have also understood the strategic potential of their involvement in such activities. This will be demonstrated through the activities of a recently-established association (North African Arts W10) based in Ladbroke Grove, London, UK. This case-study is also an attempt to approach transnationalism through its quadruple dimension: mobility, networks, local anchorage, and imagined communities.

Author Biography

Marie-Pierre Gibert, Université Lumière-Lyon 2

Lecturer in Francophone Studies