SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Minorities and Popular Culture in Modern Middle East: Representation and Participation


Date: 12 June 2015Time: 9:00 AM

Finishes: 13 June 2015Time: 12:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Workshop

Thanks to modern mass communication media and commercial entertainment, popular culture has increasingly become a large industry geared for massive consumption while engendering and contesting national and communal identities. Since late nineteenth century, Middle Eastern minorities have contributed to the making of popular culture industries as public performers, producers, writers, filmmakers, musicians, etc.  Meanwhile, popular culture has been a crucial tool in constructing public imagery of both majority and minority ethnic and religious communities. Thus, popular culture has been a site of contradictions and contestations.

Participants Programme

This workshop aims at exploring the contribution of all religious and ethnic minorities to the popular culture industries and how popular culture products have represented minorities and dealt with the minority question in modern Middle East during the twentieth century and at present. The workshop hopes to examine national, regional, and cross-regional case studies covering the area from Iran to Morocco, from Turkey to Sudan and beyond. Comparative and diasporic studies are particularly welcome.

Friday 12 June 2015
09.00 – 9.20Registration
09.20 – 9.30Welcome and Introductory Remarks
09.30 – 11.10

Panel 1: Transformation and Agency

Ángela Suárez-Collado (Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Duisburg-Essen University)
Rif song in Moroccan music and Berber protest

Yehuda Sharim (Rice University)
Mizrahim and Palestinians in Israeli pop culture

Vivian Ibrahim Croft (University of Mississippi)
Copts and Egyptian popular culture

Ali Sadidi Heris (Southampton University)
Can the Minority Filmmaker be National?: The Ethnic Minority Filmmaking in Iran of 1990s and 2000s

Leila Tayeb (Northwestern University)
Ben Sassi’s music in Lybia and political opening

11.10 – 11.30Coffee & Tea
11.30 – 12.30

Panel 2: Diaspora and Transnationalism

Niloofar Mina (New Jersey City University)
Jewish/Armenian Iranian pop music in exile

Gihan Farag (TCU-Brite Divinity School)
Broadcast Christian Media in the Arab World

Sami Everett (Woolf Institute & St Edmund’s College)
Maghrebi Jewish diaspora: art, activism and nostalgia

12.30 – 13.30Lunch
13.30 – 15.10

Panel 3: Representation and Image

Kenan Cetinkaya (Bozok University)
History and development of Assyrian pop culture in Turkey

Saro Dadyan (Istanbul Sehir University)
Armenian novels and literature in contemporary Turkish society

Cafer Sarikaya (Bogazici University)
Ottoman play performed during 1893 Chicago World’s Fair entitled the Kurdish Drama

Morgan Corriou (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)
‘An empire of their own?’ - Jewish and Italian minorities in the Tunisian film industry during the French protectorate

Omar Sayfo (Utrecht University)
Jewish and Christian roots of Egyptian animation

15.10 – 15.30Coffee & Tea
15.30 – 16.30

Panel 4: Gender and the Nation

Sevinc Elaman (Manchester University)
Gender, ethnicity and religion in Turkish nationhood

Hanan Hammad (Texas Christian University & Woolf Institute)
Layla Murad: on the border of Egyptianness

Deborah A. Starr (Cornell University)
Crimes of mistaken identity in Togo Mizrahi¹s Alexandria

16.30 – 17.00Final remarks
Saturday 13 June 2015 
10.00 – 10.15Coffee
10.15 – 12.00Film screening: Jews and Muslims: Intimate Strangers; followed by Q&A with the filmmaker, Karim Miské

Conference fees for two days:  £10 students and £20 for non-students.
Please contact Emma Harris for registration:

Organiser: The Woolf Institute, Cambridge & The Centre for Cultural Literary and Postcolonial Studies, SOAS

Sponsor: London Middle East Institute