SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Cristina Moreno Almeida

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Cristina Moreno
Ms Cristina Moreno Almeida
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Thesis title:
Popular youth culture in Contemporary Morocco and the re-imagining of the nation: a case study of hip-hop
Year of Study:
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PhD Research

This thesis researches the cultural production on Morocco focussing on popular music, specifically rap and hip hop subculture, and its use as a tool to re-invent traditions. I explore how the appropriation of hip-hop in this country has developed for the youth to gain a voice and self-expression. This approach to Morocco’s social and political dimensions bestows an alternative way of understanding cultural and political discourses providing counterhegemonic currents of thought. Young Moroccans use this genre as a mediator to find a space in which to express their social, political and identitarian concerns. Therefore, it draws on popular culture as a way of understanding an experience, a way in which the current social and political situation is lived by a new generation.

In the aftermath of King Hassan II, a new generation of young Moroccans has become visible by means of the cultural and social movement called Nayda (which in Moroccan Arabic means ‘to wake up’ or ‘to stand up’). This youth is trying to break barriers through the production of music in order to subvert and resist dominant discourses that speak the nation, the youth, freedom, religion, and issues on gender, etc. In this sense, the relationship between the rap music genre and its themes is not at random. The importance of this research is that it may show the power of these global cultural movements to gain self-expression. Thus, it is significant the fact that hip hop manifest culture as a process in which to express ideas and not as a static and monolithic culture. This becomes specially important in a country like Morocco with a geographical situation that links Africa, Europe and Middle East.

It also takes into account the discourses on cultural hybridity that these movements employ to reinvent its traditions and the Moroccan identity. Particularly, the processes of appropriation and transformation of this genre prompt that, within the last decade, this new generation finds itself in the dilemma of fighting towards ‘modernity’ without losing the specificities of their own Moroccan identity.