Christopher Witulski

Assistant Teaching Professor | Bowling Green State University

My research engages changes in sacred performance practices in contemporary Morocco and across North Africa. My recent book, The Gnawa Lions: Opportunity and Authenticity in Moroccan Ritual Music (Indiana University Press), explores how musicians for a trance-based sub-Saharan healing ceremony in Morocco negotiate their listeners’ tastes, global markets, and the aesthetics required for productive ritual. My second book, Focus: Music and Religion in Morocco was released by Routledge Press in 2019 and addresses the region and its history, highlighting how the pressures of religion, post-colonial economic struggle, and global media come together within Moroccan musical life.

This research was based on fieldwork in Morocco that was supported by a Fulbright fellowship. Other projects appear in Ethnomusicology, Ethnomusicology Forum, the Journal of North African Studies, the Yale Journal of Music and Religion, and the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.

I am also an active performer of Arabic and other musical styles on ‘ud, banjo, and violin, and director of the BGSU Middle Eastern Music Ensemble. And I pick up the banjo for old time clawhammer and my bass for funk gigs, when opportunities arise.

Other interests of mine include theoretical approaches to popular and world music, fieldwork and research in West Africa, music and healing, and the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in popular manifestations of religious music.


Full CV (PDF)


Focus: Music and Religion of Morocco

Routledge Press, Focus on World Music series, 2019

The Gnawa Lions: Authenticity and Opportunity in a Moroccan Ritual Music

Indiana University Press, Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, 2018. Review by Tony Langois

Reviewed articles and chapters

"The musical scene: malhun, rai, chaabi, andalous, and the Amazighte and Francophonie"

In The Maghrib (Area studies handbook from Routledge), forthcoming

"Teaching Arab music in today's world music classroom"

In Refracted Visions from Global Art & Popular Culture: Perpsectives on 9/11 & Terrorism Discources (Palgrave Macmillan), forthcoming

"Contentious spectacle: negotiated authenticity within Morocco’s gnawa ritual"

Ethnomusicology 62(1), 2018

"Crossing paths: musical and ritual interactivity between the ḥamadsha and gnawa in Sidi Ali, Morocco"

Yale Journal of Music and Religion 2(2), 2016

"Light rhythms and heavy spirits: entertaining listeners through gnawa musical and ritual adaptations in Morocco.”

Ethnomusicology Forum 25(2), 2016

"The Gnawa Lions: new pathways of advancement for Moroccan professional ritual musicians"

Journal of North African Studies 21(4), 2016

Please reach out if you are interested in these, but do not have access. My contact information is below.

Other Projects


PHONE (419) 601-4827


Website designed by Christopher Witulski, © 2016