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Atiyyah Khan | Research trip

Switzerland | Music

September 2022 — Music

Atiyyah Khan is a South African arts journalist, DJ, record collector, researcher visiting Switzerland for a research trip from 1 to 30 September 2022. She is using Basel as her base but will be moving throughout the country. Her stay is multi-faceted and connects archival research along with her work both as a journalist and a DJ – in this sense it involves speaking to artists, conducting interviews, visiting venues and art spaces while also digging for records and music that contributes to her DJ practice. 

One part of her research includes working on the “Swiss-South African Cultural Relations 1948-1994” project which is focused on histories of South African jazz musicians in Switzerland under apartheid. Working with scholars Steff Rohrbach and Jasper Walgrave at the University of the Arts Bern, Atiyyah will join the research project through interviews with musicians and other cultural practitioners. The project will be presented during a seminar in Basel in May 2023, focusing on a wider international perspective from the South African jazz vantage point.

As an extension of the above, another focus for her will be to document and archive Pro Helvetia’s support of jazz projects between South Africa and Switzerland over the last 15 years. This is a history of many artistic residencies in both directions, many common tours, and many recorded albums.

Another element of Atiyyah’s stay includes connecting with the Centre for African Studies, in particular with Veit Arlt – who has for decades been a driving force behind South African-Swiss jazz exchange. Through this connection, she will spend a few days conducting research in the Basler Afrika Bibliographien (BAB) sound archive, looking through their sound collection and engaging with the different media and material in the archive. 

On 21 September Atiyyah will present a sonic lecture as part of the “Namibian and Southern African Studies” colloquium, which is co-organized by the BAB and the Centre for African Studies. Here she will be playing some records under the title “Digging up lost histories” which addresses a scattered South African sound archive and how that contributes to knowledge gaps.

Finally, Atiyyah hopes to connect with local artists to explore points of common interest and potential collaboration, while also looking out for spots to DJ at and watching as much live music as possible. 


Atiyyah Khan is an arts journalist, researcher, DJ, record collector and events-curator from Johannesburg, based in Cape Town. Since 2007, she has documented arts and culture and been published in major newspapers across South Africa. In 2010, she was awarded the Pulitzer Fellowship earning her an MA in Arts Journalism from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, based at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles). Atiyyah is also the co-founder of music and art collective Future Nostalgia, which has been running since 2013 and hosts listening sessions and gigs around Cape Town. The collective is a platform to bring “collectors, selectors, deejays, and diggers” together. As selector El Corazon, she plays a variety of sounds including South African Jazz, African groove, dub, cumbia, jazz and funk. Between 2017 and 2022 she worked as sound artist with afro-futuristic Zimbabwean dancer and choreographer nora chipaumire for a work titled 100% POP, performing at TheaterSpektakel (Zurich) and La Batie (Geneva) in 2019 in Switzerland. The performance toured for two years through various parts of the US, Europe and UK and Mali. Her work involved creating a live sound-clash by layering sounds using turntables and digital media drawing from various music references, with Grace Jones as a jump-off point and incorporating sounds of dub, Thomas Mapfumo, field recordings and noise. Currently, Atiyyah writes for various publications covering all forms of arts and culture and hosts a monthly radio show on Worldwide FM.

[Portrait by Nonzuzo Gxekwa]