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American Studies Encounters the Middle East$
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Alex Lubin and Marwan M. Kraidy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469628844

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469628844.001.0001

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Call and Response, Radical Belonging, and Arabic Hip-Hop in “the West”

Call and Response, Radical Belonging, and Arabic Hip-Hop in “the West”

(p.106) Call and Response, Radical Belonging, and Arabic Hip-Hop in “the West”
American Studies Encounters the Middle East

Rayya El Zein

University of North Carolina Press

Enthusiasm in Western media and the academe about the paradigm-shifting events of the Arab uprisings of 2010-2013 has been marked by notable attention to creative cultural production by Arab youth. Perhaps no single genre has received more of this attention than Arabic rap and hip hop. However, despite the political attentiveness this recent enthusiasm has displayed, most of this literature has not yet addressed how the particularities of the processes of cultural production create experiences that help define specific political bearing. I want to further this conversation by asking: how can some rap and hip hop in Arabic be understood as specific political practice? What can analyzing this cultural production reveal about the emergent forms of political belonging enacted and developed in these practices? Focusing on performatic strategies in rap concerts, I explore different uses of call and response, costuming, “warm up” and “cool down” techniques to theorize how rap performances might work to build political community, what I call here “radical belonging.”

Keywords:   Cultural production, Arabic rap and hip hop, performance, community, identity, the multitude

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