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Ramallah ravers and Haifa hipsters: gender, class, and nation in Palestinian popular culture

Withers, Polly ORCID: 0000-0002-5892-3305 (2021) Ramallah ravers and Haifa hipsters: gender, class, and nation in Palestinian popular culture. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 48 (1). 94 - 113. ISSN 1353-0194

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13530194.2021.1885852


Palestinian popular music is usually researched through two frameworks: as folkloric identity or resistance to Israeli occupation. This paper stretches beyond these theoretical straitjackets. Based on two-years of qualitative fieldwork in Ramallah and Haifa, it explores how DJs and partygoers negotiate ‘everyday’ power through popular culture. It argues that dancefloors create semi-public spaces where young adults rehearse unconventional identities. Dress and dance assert femininities, masculinities, and queer subjectivities centred on pleasure, joy, and fun. Audience spaces are important sites of identity formation and negotiation. However, since such subjectivities are forged through consumption, youth require money (for clothes, tickets, time) to participate. Undoing gender and sexuality codes therefore relies on class-based hierarchies. Tracing identity embodiments on dancefloors reveal neither dissent nor acquiescence to hegemonic controls. Rather, as class structures cement, gender and sexuality modes shift (which instantiates novel controls). While scholarship tends to link music to resistance in Palestine, gender performances on dancefloors yield nuanced insights into power, play, and social (re)imagination. This, I argue, underscores the pressing need to approach popular culture in MENA and elsewhere beyond the now overdetermined resistance/compliance binary.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2021 12:54
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2024 07:00

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