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Arabian Humanities No. 14 (Spring 2020) — Call for papers : Pop Culture in the Arabian Peninsula

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Arabian Humanities No. 14 (Spring 2020) — Call for papers : Pop Culture in the Arabian Peninsula

Coordination Frédéric Lagrange and Pascal Menoret

What is pop culture in the Arabian Peninsula ? How does it relate to mass consumption, state owned and censored media, religious expressions, popular cultures, and regional pop cultures ? Who produces and consumes it, and it what circumstances ? What particular brand of fun does it create ? How does it play out in political environments that are marked by autocratic rule, repression, censorship, and the manipulation of culture toward political ends ? Is pop culture a mass product expressing dominant cultures, or a way to challenge cultural hegemony and mainstream cultures ? What type of containment or, on the contrary, of enablement does pop culture elicit ?

The literature on pop culture in the Arabian Peninsula is particularly thin. While a rich scholarship has analyzed oral culture and vernacular poetry (see for instance Sowayan 1985 ; Caton 1990 ; Kurpershoek 1994-2005 ; al-Suwayan 2000), less ink was spilled on those forms of culture that use new media, from tape recording to mobile phone aps and from TV production to YouTube. A few recent publications have started to explore pop cultures in the Arabian Peninsula, in particular music, poetry, literature, TV production, and advertising (Zirinski 2005 ; Miller 2007 ; Lagrange 2010 ; Alsharekh and Springborg 2012 ; Lagrange 2013 ; Menoret and Samin 2013 ; Menoret 2014). These works have barely scratched the surface of a vast domain, and much remains to be done. At a time when authoritarian regimes seek to enroll pop culture, from cinema to music, there is a pressing need for informed analysis. The relationship between pop culture, popular culture, and counterculture, in particular, is worthy of a thorough investigation.

This issue of Arabian Humanities seeks to fill that gap and to analyze pop culture in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. The Arabian Peninsula has become a mass producer of images, sounds, texts, and representations in the past half-century. It is home to a dynamic pop culture that uses official and informal channels, analog and digital media to reach vast audiences across the Arabic-speaking region. TV series, YouTube shows, Twitter quips and fights, Internet memes, cartoons, songs, pulp fiction, commercials, radio production, podcasts, are but some of the genres that we wish to see explored in this collection.

Articles should be written in Arabic, English, or French. They should be well written, in a clear language, without jargon, and accessible to a multidisciplinary audience. Articles should be around 8,000-10,000 words, notes and bibliography included.

Proposals should be sent by 30 April 2019 to :
Frédéric Lagrange (frederic.lagrange@paris-sorbonne.fr), Pascal Menoret (pmenoret@brandeis.edu) and Sylvaine Giraud (edition@cefas.com.ye).

Proposals will include additional data to identify the author (full name, institutional affiliation and position, institutional address, phone number and e-mail address), as well as an abstract of 300-500 words, including the main research question and argument, and the empirical basis of the proposed paper.

Submission of articles is expected by August 31, 2019.
See Arabian Humanities’ publication guidelines : https://journals.openedition.org/cy/2010.


Muhammad AL-‘ABBAS, suqut al-tabu : al-riwaya al-siyasiya fi-l-sa‘udiya (La chute du tabou : le roman politique en Arabie Saoudite), Jadawel, 2011.
Badriya AL-BISHR, ma‘arik tash ma tash : qira’a fi zhihniya al-tahrim fi-l-mujtama‘ al-sa‘udi (Les batailles de Tash Ma Tash : une analyze de la mentalité de l’interdiction dans la société saoudienne), al-Markaz al-Thaqafi al-‘Arabi, 2007.
‘Abd Allah AL-GHAZHZHAMI, al-thaqafa al-tilifizyuniya : suqut al-nukhba wa buruz al-sha‘bi (La culture télévisuelle : la chute de l’élite et l’émergence du populaire), al-Markaz al-Thaqafi al-‘Arabi, 2005.
Alanoud ALSHAREKH and Robert Springborg (eds.), Popular Culture and Political Identity in the Arab Gulf States, SOAS-Saqi Books, 2012.
Laure ASSAF, “Autour d’un café, sociabilité des jeunes à Abu Dhabi”, Jeunesses Arabes (dir. L. Bonnefoy, M. Catusse), Paris, La Découverte, 2013.
Steven CATON, Peaks of Yemen I Summon : Poetry as a Cultural Practice in a North Yemeni Tribe, University of California Press, 1990.
Andrew HAMMOND, Popular Culture in the Arab World, Arts, Politics, and the Media, Cairo, AUC Press, 2007.
Yves GONZALEZ-QUIJANO, “La jeunesse saoudienne entre en scène sur Youtube”, Jeunesses Arabes (dir. L. Bonnefoy, M. Catusse), Paris, La Découverte, 2013.
Clive HOLES “A Saudi housewive goes to war, al-fatāwā al-shirrīra or the evil fatwas”, The Rude, the Bad and the Bawdy, Essays in honor of Professor Geert Jan van Gelder (ed. M. Hammond, A. Talib, A. Schippers), Oxford, Gibb Memorial Trust, 2014.
P. Marcel KURPERSHOEK, Oral Poetry and Narratives from Central Arabia, 5 volumes, Brill, 1994-2005.
Frédéric LAGRANGE, “Arabies malheureuses : Corps, désirs et plaisirs dans quelques romans saoudiens récents,” Revue de littérature comparée, no.1, 2010.
Frédéric LAGRANGE, “Frīj : Humour et interrogations identitaires aux Emirats Arabes Unis,” Arabian Humanities, no. 1, 2013.
Frédéric MARTEL, Mainstream, Enquête sur la guerre globale de la culture et des médias, Paris, Champs, 2010.
Pascal MENORET and Nadav SAMIN, “The Bleak Romance of Tahliya Street,” Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, no. 6, 2013.
Pascal MENORET, Royaume d’asphalte : Jeunesse saoudienne en révolte, Wildproject-La Découverte, 2016.
Flagg MILLER, The Moral Resonance of Arab Media : Audiocassette Poetry and Culture in Yemen, Harvard University Press, 2007.
Saad Abdullah SOWAYAN, Nabati Poetry : The Oral Poetry of Arabia, University of California Press, 1985.
Sa‘d al-SUWAYAN (Saad Sowayan), al-shi‘r al-nabati : dha’iqat al-sha‘b wa sultat al-nas (Nabati Poetry : Popular Taste and the Authority of the Text), Dar al-Saqi, 2000.
Lisa URKEVICH, Music and Traditions of the Arabian Peninsula, New York, Routledge, 2015.
Roni ZIRINSKI, Ad Hoc Arabism : Advertising, Culture, and Technology in Saudi Arabia, Peter Lang, 2005.