Politics and Popular Culture in the Middle East: Power and Resistance Post-2011
University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
7-8 May 2019
Keynote speaker: Charles Tripp, Professor Emeritus, SOAS
Call for Papers
Over the past decade or so, popular culture has attracted increasing attention from scholars of the Middle East and North Africa. In particular, the mass protests and uprisings from the end of 2010 onwards sparked interest in popular culture as a vehicle for mobilizing and articulating resistance to authoritarianism (amongst others, Abaza 2013, El Hamamsy and Soliman 2013, Mostafa and Valassopoulos 2014, Salih and Richter-Devroe 2014, Swedenburg 2012).
This workshop builds on and extends the insights of this body of literature to consider the relationship between politics and popular culture more broadly. We define popular culture to include a range of mass cultural and subcultural forms (such as, TV, film, graffiti, cartoons, music, dance) recognizing that the boundaries between popular culture and ‘high culture’ or ‘folk culture’ are fluid and contingent. Meanwhile, we conceptualize politics to include not only formal political processes, actors and institutions but also the political economy of popular cultural production alongside the struggles over the cultural meanings that are constitutive of power relations.
We invite abstracts exploring the intersections of politics and popular culture in the contemporary Middle East and North Africa from any relevant discipline. We are particularly interested in papers that address the following themes:
- The role of popular culture in both promoting progressive/revolutionary as well as reactionary/counter-revolutionary political agendas and ideas
- The use of popular culture by marginalized/subordinated social groups –such as women, workers, economically-marginalized groups, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQ communities and refugees
- The use of popular culture by elites and governments
- State policies towards popular culture
- Religion and popular culture
- The political economy of popular culture
- The role of popular culture in resistance
- The role of popular culture in representing the past and shaping public memory
- The politics of aesthetics in relation to popular culture
- The politics of space in relation to popular culture
- The politics of identity (gender, nation, race, class, sexuality) in popular culture
We also welcome contributions that examine popular culture in the Middle East and North Africa in other historical moments and/or in relation to longer-term struggles that cannot be reduced to the Arab uprisings and their aftermath.
A selection of papers will be published as part of a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal.
Deadline for submissions is 10 December 2018. Successful applicants will be notified by 3 January 2019.
There is no workshop fee for successful applicants. Some bursaries may be available to cover travel costs for those coming from outside Europe, particularly from the Middle East and North Africa.
Please submit the following details in a word document/pdf file:
- Title(s) and affiliation(s)
- Paper title
- Abstract of 350 words
- Short bio of 250 words
- Corresponding email address
For submissions or inquiries please email us at: popcultureMENA@warwick.ac.uk
- Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick
- Dina Rezk, University of Reading
- Dalia Mostafa, University of Manchester
This conference is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of grant no. AH/N004353/1: ‘Politics and Popular Culture: Contested Narratives of the 25 January 2011 Revolution and its Aftermath’