ASIA 73: FYS: Popular Culture in the Arab World
This first-year seminar introduces students to popular culture in the Arab world. It aims to move away from the mass-mediated view of the Arab world as the land of terrorists, oppressed women, or oil billionaires to highlight the region’s dynamism, creativity, and complexity. We will investigate the production and consumption of popular culture in the region as an entry point for understanding aspects of the histories, cultures, and societies that form the Arab world. We will ask what can film, television, or music tell us about state power, inequality, national identities, gender, or political and social struggles? How is Arab popular culture integrated in global circuits of meaning and representations? And how can it be mobilized in times of revolutionary upheaval? The class will rely on anthropological readings alongside direct engagements with examples of popular culture from the Middle East.