SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Nadeem Karkabi

BA, MA (University of Haifa)
  • Overview


Nadeem Karkabi
Centre for Palestine Studies (CPS)

PhD Student Associate Member

Mr Nadeem Karkabi
Email address:
Thesis title:
Neither Victims nor Heroes: Politics of Pleasure, Ethics of Resistance and Defiant Subjectivities at the Palestinian Alternative Music Scene in Israel and the West Bank.
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


I am cirrently at the final stages of writing-up my thesis on politics of pleasure, cultural difference and defiant subjectivities at the alternative music scene among Palestinians inside Israel and in the West Bank. My broader research interests include similar cultural scenes across the Middle East, cosmopolitan communities in borderland regions, citizenship and civil rights in relation to social hierarchies, as well as the broader scope of the politics pleasure.
Between the years 2006-2010, I have conducted research in South Sinai (Egypt), which focused on two main topics. The first dealt with romantic and marriage relations between European women and younger Egyptian men. It examined how class and gender relations intersect with global structures of the political economy of migration and local structures of tribal customary law. The second topic touched on questions of citizenship, property rights and international community formations among Bedouins, Egyptians and Europeans. As part of this project, I have explored how rights over land and constructions of home are negotiated between “uncivil” indigenous population, national internal migrants and financially privileged transnational lifestyle migrants.

PhD Research

My PhD research deals with the Palestinian alternative music scene in Israel and the West Bank. It is based on fieldwork with young musicians, event organisers and audiences, mainly in the cities of Haifa and Ramallah. Although the very first attempts go back to the 1990s, this cultural and musical scene gained a recent breakthrough in light of what is termed as the “Arab Spring” in the neighbouring Arab countries and the central role in which young protesters played at these events. The musical content is based on fusing traditional Palestinian expressive culture and Arabic lyrics with global styles and sounds. In my research, I examine how this scene constitutes the struggle of young Palestinians against civil marginalisation in Israel and military occupation in the occupied territories, as well as against social and cultural conventions within their own communities. In light of this entangled political reality and risks of double subjectivisation, the research is concerned with how Palestinian nationalism is maintained alongside the assertion of internal cultural difference. In contrast to former representations of heroism and victimhood in Palestinian culture, I argue that this genre significantly performs joyous and pleasurable music, often inspired by the Palestinian wedding, in order to reflect human normalcy, aspire to individual and collective liberation and promote defiant festive subjectivities. To explain “the politics of pleasure” in Palestine, I elaborate on the paradox of modern nationalism in regard to abstention and indulgence in pleasure as a normal(ising) activity. This unresolvable tension is further examined in light of the recently reintroduced strategy of boycott in Palestine, especially in the field of culture and more specifically music. Finally, I deal with pleasure as an affective experience in the Palestinian alternative music events. Combining Bataille’s work on expenditure and sovereignty with the biopolitics of pleasure, I examine how the ‘rave assemblage’ leads to sensual ecstatic desubjectification. While abandoning ideologies out of disappointment in conventional political avenues, defiant playful subjectivities are constituted instead in these rave-parties through illicit sensations of self-undisciplining, corporeally induced by effects of sound and drugs on the dancing body.

PhD Publications

  • Karkabi, Nadeem (Forthcoming). “Staging Particular Difference: Politics of Space at the Palestinian Alternative music Scene”, In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication  6(3): (Fall 2013).
  • Karkabi, Nadeem (2013). “Lifestyle Migration in South Sinai, Egypt: Nationalisation, Privileged Citizenship and Indigenous Rights”, In: International Review of Social Research 3(1): 49-66.
  • Karkabi, Nadeem (2011). “Couples in the Global Margins: Sexuality and Marriage between Egyptian men and Western women in South Sinai”, In: Anthropology of the Middle East 6(1): 79-97.