International Journal of

Arts , Humanities & Social Science

ISSN 2693-2547 (Print) , ISSN 2693-2555 (Online)
DOI: 10.56734/ijahss
Sonicization of Gender in Tanzania Kwaya Congregational Music


In this article, I introduce issues related to the embodiment of gendered sound in contemporary Tanzanian Christian choral communities (East Africa). By pulling back the layers of meaning that frequently veil congregational singing, I suggest that a focus on the routinely reiterated sounds produced by kwayas (KiSwahili for “choir”), that participate within that greater congregational space leads to a normalization of the performance of a localized gendering process—the sounding of sopranos, for example—that I label “sonic gendering.” This proposal confirms Judith Butler’s admonition that it is through rearticulation and repetition, such as when a kwaya continually affirms sonic gendering daily, that constitutive gender norms are reworked within a given cultural context (2011[1993], ix). I suggest that everyday singing in a kwaya facilitates the re-performing, re-consumption, and continuous re-embodiment of a process of gendering.