Music, Gender, and Sexuality in the Middle East (MHI2252.01)

Joseph Alpar

This course will explore the construction and experience of gender and sexuality in the Middle East through a musical lens. Drawing on ethnomusicological, historical, sociological and anthropological research in the region, the course will examine music-making as a process of representation, assertion, and sometimes transgression of sexuality and gender identities. We will talk about men’s and women’s roles in specific musical practices and their historical evolution and will consider how music, gender, and sexuality relate to ethnicity, nationality, and religion. We will question stereotypes about femininity and masculinity in the region, highlighting modes of performance (music, dance, spoken word) that create new kinds of feminine, masculine, non-binary, and trans identities and spaces.  We will also pay special attention to Islamist mobilization, the experiences of LGBTQ performers and listeners, family, weddings, neoliberalism, women’s labor, and the role of women musicians in recent uprisings and social change. Some of our topics will include women’s empowerment in Algerian raï songs, queer performance at the Ottoman court, gendered hierarchies in Bedouin oral poetry performance, women’s music festivals in Iran, Lebanese indie music and LGBTQ rights, rap and resistance among Saudi women, performing masculinity in Arab musical films, bellydance and gendered spaces in Egypt, sentimental performance in Turkish pop, rave culture among young Palestinans and much more.

(“You are mine” featuring Chaba Fadela and Cheb Sahraoui, Algeria)

Learning Outcomes:

Delivery Method: Entirely remote (synchronous)
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 2
M/Th 3:40PM-5:30PM (new time as of 8/31/2020) (1st seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

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