Chair: Dr Laudan Nooshin, Senior Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, City University London
Paper 1: Community of Catharsis: Musical Mediations on the 2009 Iranian Presidential Elections
Dr Laudan Nooshin, Senior Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, City University London
This paper explores the extraordinary musical responses in the aftermath of Iran’s 2009 presidential elections, focusing on the role of the internet in providing a space for the collective outpouring of emotion – anger, frustration, fear and grief. Just as Lohman describes Umm Kulthum’s concert campaign and radio presence in Egypt after the 1967 war with Israel as ‘an empowering mechanism for Egyptians to respond to the psychological impact of the defeat (and) … a cathartic outlet for public expression’ (2009), so in Iran, music – this time mediated through the internet – helped Iranians to come to terms with the psychological trauma triggered by the political events. This paper considers the combined mediative power of music and the internet to bring – and bind – people together, in ways that are too slippery for the kinds of centralised state control which have dominated Iran’s public sphere for decades.
Paper 2: Rapping Revolution and Revolt: Hip Hop From The Edge of Lebanon
Dr Francesco Mazzucotelli, Teaching Assistant, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Hip hop groups such as Touffar, Katibe Khamse, and i-Voice firmly established themselves in the Middle Eastern musical scene over the last four years. As they emerge from contexts that are socially and economically marginalized, these groups want to smash social stigma and stereotypical images of backwardness and lawlessness that are associated with their context of origin. Drawing from the existing, extensive literature that focuses on hip hop as a subculture of contestation and opposition to mainstream culture and/or the existing political system, this paper intends to investigate in which ways hip hop songs are deployed and portrayed as vectors of political and social awareness, mobilization, and activism in the Lebanese context. This paper will also question what it means, and what it takes to express oneself through hip hop in Lebanon’s highly politicized and highly volatile context. >> download the paper
Paper 3: Identity Politics and Resistance: The Case of Mohammad Mounir
Natalie Abou Shakra, PhD candidate, Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies, SOAS
The revolutionary consciousness of the Nasserite era survived the Sadat and post-Sadat period of “authenticity and modernity” to express itself in the work of Nubian Egyptian performing artist Mohammad Mounir. Mounir emerged in the late 1970s a period which marked the end of an era; the Gods and Goddesses of the Arabic song have either passed away or retired, and the Arab world witnessed the looming of a mainstream mass media machine whose sole aim is to satisfy individual pleasure through the production of a culture industry based on the same model of western consumerist lifestyles. In placing Mounir’s songs within their socio-political context, and without neglecting the aesthetic aspects of these songs, this paper will attempt to show how they serve as vehicles of agency and empowerment through culturally constructing ideas of resistance to cultural and political hegemony in the post-Nasserite era and, therefore, as a means of resisting and subverting ideologies and positions of power. >> download the paper
Paper 4: Construction of ‘Exemplarity’ and the Contemporary Myth of Resistance in the Kurdish Nationalist Discourse
Dr Cengiz Gunes, Associate Lecturer, The Open University
This paper analyses the reactivation of the myth of Newroz as the myth of Kurdish origin and resistance to ‘construct’ a contemporary myth of resistance in the Kurdish Nationalist discourse. This myth was constructed around the resistance practices of the leading members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the Diyarbakir Military Prison during the early 1980s, and was deployed to represent the PKK’s struggle in political discourse and through art and music. The paper will argue that an analysis of the PKK’s contemporary myth of resistance is essential to understand the processes at work in its mobilisation of Kurds during the 1990s and explain its hegemony over the Kurdish resistance in Turkey. Organising mass gatherings during Newroz created ‘Newroz’ as the symbol of Kurdish popular resistance. Romanticising its guerrilla war against the Turkish state enhanced its hegemonic appeal by bringing the myth of resistance to the reality and represent it as the embodiment of the Kurds’ struggle for independence and freedom. >> dowload the paperThese are abridged versions of the abstracts submitted by the presenters.