Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa
A Postcolonial Outlook
Edited by Walid El Hamamsy, Mounira Soliman
Routledge – 2013 – 282 pages
This book explores the body and the production process of popular culture in, and on, the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey, and Iran in the first decade of the 21st century, and up to the current historical moment. Essays consider gender, racial, political, and cultural issues in film, cartoons, music, dance, photo-tattoos, graphic novels, fiction, and advertisements. Contributors to the volume span an array of specializations ranging across literary, postcolonial, gender, media, and Middle Eastern studies and contextualize their views within a larger historical and political moment, analyzing the emergence of a popular expression in the Middle East and North Africa region in recent years, and drawing conclusions pertaining to the direction of popular culture within a geopolitical context. The importance of this book lies in presenting a fresh perspective on popular culture, combining media that are not often combined and offering a topical examination of recent popular production, aiming to counter stereotypical representations of Islamophobia and otherness by bringing together the perspectives of scholars from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines. The collection shows that popular culture can effect changes and alter perceptions and stereotypes, constituting an area where people of different ethnicities, genders, and orientations can find common grounds for expression and connection.
"This volume presents a thoughtful, empirically rich and timely contribution to the fields of Middle East and cultural studies." --Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations
"The triumph and value of Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa comes from its ability to pull together remarkable contributions from an international range of scholars in fields that range from ethnomusicology to Turkish politics…This is a collection that resists the flattening and simplification of the cultural terrain of the Muslim World and will be an oft-cited volume that will find a place on bookshelves. This is a trailblazing effort that sets the standard for balancing diversity and depth of scope through its nuanced analysis of cultural phenomena integrated into their sociopolitical and historical landscape." --Yasmine Motawy, American University in Cairo, Interventions
'The breadth and depth of the 15 essays offer an unprecedented contribution to understandings of contemporary cultural production in the region that raises critical issues in and about the public sphere…’ – Contemporary Islam
"This edited volume surveys a wide array of cultural forms throughout the Arab world, Turkey, and Iran, as well as the United States’ own popular culture that reflects and propagates various discourses about the Middle East… El Hamamsy and Soliman frame the volume as an effort to raise awareness of not only Middle Eastern and North African popular culture, but especially of its scholarly value, in the context of states (such as Egypt) in which intellectuals and producers of elite culture are tightly invested in supporting state hegemony under the aegis of promoting ‘good’ over ‘bad’ mass-mediated culture." --Daniel J. Gilman, DePauw University, Journal of Arabic Literature
"Broad in geographical and disciplinary scope, the volume places literary and film scholars, anthropologists, and ethnomusicologists, among others, in conversation about the production and position of popular culture in the Middle East within the contemporary moment…What makes these chapters so compelling is the way the authors present diverse artistic practices as resistance against both dominant mainstream culture and different kinds of social, political, and ideological injustices." -- Yasmine Ramadan, Wellesley College, Arab Studies Journal
"Most of the book's articles were written before the Arab uprisings. Still, the book is timely. As its editors indicate, it examines popular culture in the immediately preceding period. And since one of the most significant achievements of the revolutions was to breathe life into the artistic scenes of the region, the book, and particularly its last chapter "The Aesthetics of the Revolution" can be a beginning to understanding those scenes today. Written by Hamamsy and Soliman on forms of popular creativity directly related to the Egyptian revolution, the chapter takes a close look at the art that came out of Tahrir Square, such as slogans, songs and graffiti, as well as art used for mobilizzation, such as al-Fan Midan, the Bassem Youssef Show, and independent activist cinemas, such as Mosireen and Kazeboon. By understanding the popular culture, one can hear the voices of the people." - www.madamasr.com
Part 1: Popular Culture and the Aesthetics of Political Resistance 1. Palestinian Rap: Against the Struggle Paradigm Ted Swedenburg 2. Music Sans Frontières? Documentaries on Hip Hop in the Holy Land and DIY Democracy Caroline Rooney 3. Rai: North Africa’s Music of the Working Class John A. Shoup Part 2: Gender Politics, the Popular, Social Resistance 4. Masculinity and Fatherhood within a Lebanese Muslim Community: Assad Fouladkar’s When Maryam Spoke Out Dalia Said Mostafa 5. Photo-Tattoo as Postmodern Veil: Photography and the Inscription of Subjectivity on the Female Body Walid El Khachab 6. Dancing Without My Body: Cultural Integration in the Middle East Nadra Majeed Assaf Part 3: Tradition and the Popular: New Forms and Trends 7. Satellite Piety: Contemporary TV Islamic Programs in Egypt Omaima Abou-Bakr 8. Büşra: The Veiled Protagonist of a Comic Serial Iren Ozgur 9. The Yacoubian Building and Its Sisters: Reflections on Readership and Written Culture in Modern Egypt Richard Jacquemond 10. Tradition and Modernity: The Globalization of Sufi Music in Egypt Michael Frishkopf Part 4: Cultural Hegemony: Popular Representations of the Middle East in the US 11. American Orientalism after Said John Carlos Rowe 12. Barbaric Space: Portrayal of Arab Lands in Hollywood Films Hania A. M. Nashef 13. Alternating Images: Simulacra of Ideology in Egyptian Advertisements Maha El Said Part 5: Popular Culture and Revolution: The Voice of Dissent 14. The Role of New Media in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011: Visuality as an Agent of Change Randa Aboubakr 15. The Aesthetics of Revolution: Popular Creativity and the Egyptian Spring Walid El Hamamsy and Mounira Soliman
Walid El Hamamsy is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Cairo University, Egypt.
Mounira Soliman is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Cairo University, Egypt.