Bhavisha Panchia’s curatorial work and research engage with artistic and cultural practices in shifting global conditions, focusing on anti/postcolonial discourses, imperial histories, and networks of production and circulation of (digital) media. A significant part of her practice centres on auditory media’s relationship to geopolitical paradigms, particularly with respect to the social and ideological signification of sound and music in contemporary culture. She is the founder of Nothing to Commit Records, a label and publishing platform committed to the production and expansion of knowledge related to the intersection of contemporary art, literature, and music within and across the global South.
While the late 1800s saw territorial borders constructed across Africa, the early 1900s saw boundaries being placed on musical repertoires. In this essay, curator and researcher Bhavisha Panchia reflects on the 1932 Cairo Congress of Arab Music to review the Western systematisation of Arabic modes and explores forms of sonic resistance to the apparent neutrality of Western musical standards in today’s digital music tools.