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Music in the Middle East after the digital revolution

Organization: Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth
Categories: Popular Culture, Aesthetics, Cultural Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Middle East
Event Date: 2024-09-10 to 2024-09-10 Abstract Due: 2024-09-10

Call for papers - Revue REGARDS

Music in the Middle East after the digital revolution


At the turning point of the 2000s, musical production and creation were reshaped by technological developments in different regions of the world, including the Near East, marking the advent of a "digital regime" (Olivier, 2017) for music. A new organization of artistic production in the Middle East, from Egypt to Iraq, via the Palestinian Territories, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, is taking place. It is the result of innovations linked to new forms of expression, communication and production of contemporary music, leading to a plurality of musical knowledges and practices that manifest within national and regional dynamics (De Blasio 2020, 2021, Johannsen 2017, Rasmussen 1996).

This issue of the journal Regards (Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth) proposes to investigate the dynamics of musical production and forms of dissemination in the contemporary Near East, particularly through the do it yourself practices that have emerged with the advent of home studios (Péneau 2023) and low-cost listening platforms. The challenge of such a study is thus to confront the different aesthetics of today's music, blending diverse intellectual and cultural heritages, mobilizing the affects of nostalgia (Dauncey & Tinker 2014) and those linked to the historical realities shared by the region's inhabitants (Fahmy 2013). The question of understanding the articulation of musical dynamics with social, political and state boundaries and different contexts of conflict will be explored.

This issue will also focus on the complex systems of communication, recording and accumulation of knowledge and practices of Near Eastern artists, following different approaches linked to popular music studies (Hesmondhalgh & Meier 2014, Nowak 2013), science and technology studies (Olivier 2017, Shafiee 2019) and contemporary ethnomusicological currents (Olivier 2022, Stokes 2022). The aim is to shed light on the modes of legitimacy and authenticity (Guillard & Sonnette 2020) of Near Eastern music. Practices such as featuring (Roquebert 2020) and the arrival of streaming platforms like SoundCloud (Allington, Dueck & Jordanous 2015, Hesmondhalgh, Jones & Rauh 2019) also enable artists, despite physical borders, to create collectively around shared aesthetics and share their creations. The growing intensity of these flows has led to the emergence of new economic players around a "new transnational Arab pop" (France 2020), distinct from the traditional pop industry organized around a Beirut-Riyad axis (Kraidy 2007). Moreover, the Middle East region is increasingly integrated into a global system, even if exchanges between the center and the margins are still characterized by a structural "mismatch" (Sprengel 2023).

Contributions may focus on the situation of a particular country, since studies of music in the Near East are still very much marked by national roots. Egypt, in the first instance, has been the target of a major commitment by music researchers to examine sacred music (Gabry-Thienpont 2015), popular music such as Shaabi (Puig, Frankfort 2006, 2022) and Mahragan (Puig 2020), and independent music (Sprengel 2018, 2020, El Chazli and Gabry-Thienpont 2020) such as rap (Mangialardi 2016, Weiss 2016, Williams 2010). Other countries in the region have also been the subject of more or less recent or updated research (Shannon on Syria, 2006, Bukhalter and Puig on Lebanon, 2007, McDonald on Palestine, 2010, 2013, 2019). By way of illustration, some authors have taken an interest in Jordanian music through the fields of diaspora in music (Thibdeau 2020) as well as via studies on youth, underground culture (Munk 2021), traditional Dabke music (Al Bakri & Mallah 2020) and popular music (Galakhova 2008).  Palestinian music is also the subject of studies that focus on the discourse of resistance in the context of Israeli occupation (Belkind 2021, El Sakka 2010, Eqeiq 2012) or attempt to approach the subjectivations of Palestinian youth through and by means of music (Karkabi 2013, 2020, Sunaina 2008, Withers 2021, Zielinska 2018)

In this context, studies on music in the region are always in a state of tension between a transversal logic (Arab music) and national approaches (music from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, etc.).

For this issue, we are expecting proposals based on situated ethnographies of musical creation, production and dissemination, both nationally and regionally, in a transversal and/or cross-cutting manner within the contemporary Near East.


Submission guidelines

Authors wishing to submit an abstract (in French, English or Arabic) are invited to send it to the following email address before September 10 2024: regards@usj.edu.lb.

Authors should provide the following information:

·         An abstract of the article (approx. 500 words)

·         5–10 keywords

·         A short, indicative bibliography

·         A mini biography (approx. 100 words)

The abstracts will be examined by the editorial committee, and the authors will receive an answer by the end of September 2024. The articles should be submitted before January 15 2024.

Scientific Committee

 ·       Hamid Aidouni, PR (Université Abdelmalek Essaadi, Maroc)

·       Karl Akiki, MCF (Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Liban)

·       Riccardo Bocco, PR (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Genève, IHEID, Suisse)

·       Fabien Boully, MCF (Université Paris Nanterre, France)

·       André Habib, PR (Université de Montréal, Canada)

·       Dalia Mostafa, MCF (University of Manchester, Angleterre)

·       José Moure, PR (Université Paris Panthéon Sorbonne – Paris 1, France)

·       Jacqueline Nacache, PR (Université de Paris, France)

·       Ghada Sayegh, MCF (IESAV, Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Liban)

·       Kirsten Scheid, Associate PR (American University of Beirut, Liban)      

Editor-in-chief: Joseph Korkmaz, PR (Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Liban)

Edition Editors: Nicolas Puig (Université Paris Cité) – Amr Abdelrahim (Sciences Po, Paris) – Thomas Michel (IRD, Université Paris Cité).



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Toufic Ishaya El-Khoury