Music, Arab Youth and Social Resistance

Pilar Garrido Clemente

Arabist and full professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Universidad de Murcia

Pedro Rojo Pérez

Arabist and chair of the Fundación Al Fanar para el Conocimiento Árabe

Music is the ideal language for taking stock of the expression of emotions, peoples’ traditions, social movements, culture and cultures, and the order and rupture of established systems. This article explores today’s Arab music by travelling through the different places of the vast geography of Arabism understood in its broadest sense, which is not limited to a language but to a geographical space. Providing a list of young artists from all Arab countries would be an endless endeavour, but we can look at some of them and get a taste of the diverse musical styles, performers, meanings and successes of musicians on our musical journey.

In Arab countries and through their languages and dialects we can travel and explore social reality, as these examples reflect styles, languages and musicians that have gradually signified on some occasions, and re-signified on others, diverse social movements, i.e., specific causes, particular uprisings or universal demands, some of the moment and others chronic.

We will examine a selection of young musicians in the current panorama of Arab countries in terms of protest music, related to today’s current social movements in their everyday environments, both wars (Palestine) and revolutions (Arab Springs onward), and demands for universal values (feminisms). We will focus more on independent musicians and bands within their own context rather than on bands and singers of mainstream music, marked by exaggerated elements of pop and hypersexualisation of its stars.

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