Constructing an ‘Outlandish’ Narrative of Self: The Role of Music in Muslim Experience


  • Reem M Hilal Allegheny College



Identity, Islam, Narrative, Muslims.


This paper explores the way in which Muslims, particularly those in the Diaspora, use music as an alternative medium to negotiate a narrative of self that reflects their performance of their faith and the issues that concern them. The focus will be on the music of the Danish based music group Outlandish. Specifically, music has become an important space to dismantle and reformulate discussions on identity and offers insight into the way language, religion, and resistance are deployed in a medium with increasing currency. Outlandish has garnered an international audience; through mediums such as YouTube, their music resonates with Muslims and other minority groups in the diaspora faced with similar issues of identification. This paper addresses the questions: how is music employed to construct narratives of self that challenge boundaries? How does music engage the issue of representation for those who face exclusion? How can their work be read in the contemporary setting where globalization has brought different cultural worldviews into contact, at times producing dialogue and constructive exchange and at other times leading to discernible violence, engendering a more pronounced sense of alienation and exclusion?Through their music, Outlandish expresses the ways in which what differentiates between people binds them through a process of recognition, to borrow from Judith Butler. Focusing on Outlandish’s music, I examine the role of music in the negotiation and construction of narratives of self by contemporary Muslims that counter those that have been constructed for and against them. 


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