Youth cannot be understood without examining elderhood, and age more generally. Among the Tuareg, Islamic religious rituals and liturgical music tend to be identified with the "aged" (those with children of marriageable age), and these are symbolically opposed to secular popular musical performances classified as "anti-Islamic," which are identified with "youth." These images comment upon long-standing concerns with marriage, courtship, sexuality, and descent, but they are also increasingly being translated into concerns of cultural autonomy, as local youths struggle for cultural survival in conflict between Tuareg and the central state. I analyze three types of popular musical performance and the instruments featured in them, and show how their age-related imagery, commentary, and interaction express changing intergenerational relationships. These concerns, however, do not fall into a binary of "old" and "new," or align with any one age group; rather, they suggest shifting associations of agentive power and questioning of "tradition" by youth and aged in diverse contexts. These data on age symbolism in Tuareg popular musical performances suggest more dynamic, nuanced formulations of "traditional," "modern," and "global" in anthropological theory.


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pp. 133-144
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