Music, Religion and Society in the Middle East and North Africa
- Module Code:
- Year of study:
- Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
- Taught in:
- Term 1
Objectives and learning outcomes of the module
On successful completion of this course, a student should be able to demonstrate…
- identify local religious and popular musical styles from across the Middle East and North Africa
- Understand the religious and socio-political issues that affect the development of local musical styles;
- Think critically about the connections between public and private sphere in musical performance
- Apply theories of religion, gender and nationalism to music cross-culturally;
- Explain the multiple meanings of "music" in the Islamic world;
- Articulate the connections between musical style and geopolitics.
Two hours Lecture per week
Scope and syllabus
Over the term, we will examine five basic concepts through which music shapes both religion and the media: soundscapes, voice, embodiment, possession, and intimacy. We will examine each concept through the lenses of religious ritual and media in alternating weeks. Topics include:
- Religious authority and cassette sermon soundscapes
- Moroccan Hip-Hop Counterpublics
- Quranic recitation and the Sama' polemic
- Transgender singers and constructions of womanhood
- Dhikr: Sufism, Sainthood and heterodoxy
- Music of the Syrian Civil War from Dabke to Nasheed
- Shia pilgrimage
- Palestinian Rave culture and trance
- Mothers of the Nation from Umm Khulthum to Fairouz
- Beirut's music scene from the Rahbanis to Mashrouleila.
Method of assessment
One 1 500 words book review (worth 30%);one 2 000 words essay (worth 30%);a one hour listening exam ( worth 20%);one two hours exam (worth 20%)
- Burkhalter, Thomas. 2013. Local Music Scenes and Globalization: Transnational Platforms in
Beirut. New York: Routledge.
- Danielson, Virginia. 1997. The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian
Society in the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Hirschkind, Charles. 2006. The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic
Counterpublics. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Mahmood, Saba. 2005. Politics of Piety: the Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject.
Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
- Marcus, Scott L. 2007. Music in Egypt: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. New York:
Oxford University Press.
- Nelson, Kristina. 1985. The Art of Reciting the Qur'an. Austin, Texas: University of Texas
- Nooshin, Laudan (ed.). 2009. Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa
and Central Asia. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.
- Sabry, Tarik (ed.). 2011. Arab Cultural Studies: Mapping the Field. London: I.B. Tauris.
- Stokes, Martin. 2004. “Music and the Global Order.” Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 47-
- Stone, Christopher. 2007. Popular Culture and Nationalism in Lebanon: the Fairouz and
Rahbani Nation. New York: Routledge.