SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Tales of the (Im)Proper: Speaking from the Margins in the Digital Era


Date: 18 November 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 18 November 2020Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Virtual Webinar

Speaker: Dr Cristina Moreno Almeida (BA Postdoctoral Fellow, King's College London)


From hip hop to memes, digital culture in Morocco has benefited from the absence of gatekeepers and local laws to narrate lives in street slang. Because swearing occurs in the everyday and can inform class and social status, improper language is not only a space of connection and resonance for some, but also a space of authenticity. With this in mind, this talk explores the implication of using what is regarded as dirty language in digital popular forms of storytelling such as rap songs and internet memes. It examines the meanings of writing and singing in languages constructed as vulgar in the digital age. Although the use of local language is essential in gathering Moroccan audiences wherever they may physically live, in narrating stories in street variations, rap music and memes also see their audiences limited to those who understand this unofficial language and those for which vulgar language is acceptable. For this reason, these forms of storytelling are compelled to negotiate the building affective communal belonging at the expense of reaching larger audiences (whether anglophone, arabophone, or conservative and family oriented). Consequently, despite claims of enhanced opportunities for connection and participation beyond national borders thanks to the digital age and the era of the anglophone, tales from the street are still told from and for the margins.


Dr Cristina Moreno Almeida is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, focusing on the role of new and social media in Morocco and the social, cultural and political implications of disseminating cultural production exclusively using online platforms.  She did her MA and PhD at SOAS (CCLPS) working on youth culture and rap music in contemporary Morocco. She then worked as Research Officer at LSE on a project aimed at studying media and networks of participation among young people in Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and the UAE.

Part of Multilingual Locals & Significant Geographies: For a New Approach to World Literature (MULOSIGE).