Memories of cross-cultural exchanges between coastal cities of Africa and the Indian subcontinent are preserved and remembered, updated and invented through music and repertoires of ritual performances. Scholars at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have been instrumental in studying the African diaspora in the Indian Ocean World and their cultural retention through arts and performances. UCLA scholars such as Amy Catlin and her late husband Nazir Jairazbhoy in the Ethnomusicology Department have researched how African communities in India retain or in some case repress their cultural identities and expressions. Through international conferences, the edited volume (Sidis and Scholars), film (Africa to India) and through their community building efforts with the Sidi community, the Jairazhbhoys have played a critically important role in presenting a lesser-know history of African presence in India to a global audience.
In concurring with earlier scholarship on the problems of unearthing information about African communities in India because of their integration into host societies and fractured memories, it is important to note that a comprehensive discursive trajectory of retention of African cultural traits and idioms through performances, rituals, and oral histories are vital to understanding African narrative histories. In the case of Sidi communities, although memories of forced migration towards the western Indian coast and their process of enslavement are nebulous, it is through performances they construct, enact, express and transmit their fractured and fraught narratives of their travels towards the Indian subcontinent. Performance, hence acts as a vital media of transmission and retention of African cultural memories in India.