Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture

Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture

Book Pages: 424 Illustrations: 19 illustrations Published: July 2005

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Middle East Studies

This important volume rethinks the conventional parameters of Middle East studies through attention to popular cultural forms, producers, and communities of consumers. The volume has a broad historical scope, ranging from the late Ottoman period to the second Palestinian uprising, with a focus on cultural forms and processes in Israel, Palestine, and the refugee camps of the Arab Middle East. The contributors consider how Palestinian and Israeli popular culture influences and is influenced by political, economic, social, and historical processes in the region. At the same time, they follow the circulation of Palestinian and Israeli cultural commodities and imaginations across borders and checkpoints and within the global marketplace.

The volume is interdisciplinary, including the work of anthropologists, historians, sociologists, political scientists, ethnomusicologists, and Americanist and literary studies scholars. Contributors examine popular music of the Palestinian resistance, ethno-racial “passing” in Israeli cinema, Arab-Jewish rock, Euro-Israeli tourism to the Arab Middle East, Internet communities in the Palestinian diaspora, café culture in early-twentieth-century Jerusalem, and more. Together, they suggest new ways of conceptualizing Palestinian and Israeli political culture.

Contributors. Livia Alexander, Carol Bardenstein, Elliott Colla, Amy Horowitz, Laleh Khalili, Mary Layoun, Mark LeVine, Joseph Massad, Melani McAlister, Ilan Pappé, Rebecca L. Stein, Ted Swedenburg, Salim Tamari


“[G]iven the enormous lack of studies on popular culture as a vital force in Israel/Palestine, the book certainly provides instructive reading and is a welcome addition to the field.” — Motti Regev, International Journal of Cultural Studies

“[T]he volume is certainly an important academic contribution and deftly introduces new directions for the study of Palestine, Israel, and the broader Middle East. . . . Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture presents new possibilities for interdisciplinary work that both utilizes and questions the tools of cultural studies, and also opens up new spaces for alternative and more heterogeneous narratives.” — Dina Ramadan, Arab Studies Journal

“In considering the ways that popular culture influences and is influenced by the political, economic, social, and historical processes of the region, Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture ought to be an indispensable addition to any Middle Eastern cultural studies library.” — Helga Tawil Souri, Journal of Palestine Studies

“Read together, these interdisciplinary essays challenge traditional paradigms of hybridity which often presume the coming together of two distinct identities at the expense of internal and external differences. The authors theorize how globalization simultaneously loosens and solidifies nationalism. Yet more than that, they seek to explain what this dual effect tells us about the politics of cultural production and consumption. Historically rich, the case studies contribute much to scholarship on Israel-Palestine and the broader field of Middle East studies. Theoretically insightful, the authors propose innovative models for conceptualizing representation. As a result, Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture is of the utmost value to anyone who traffics in representation.” — Sarah Rogers, Art Journal

“Rebecca Stein and Ted Swedenburg have edited an excellent collection of essays championing the importance and role of popular culture in the complicated political struggles of Israel-Palestine. . . . All of the essays are well written and well informed. Unlike many collected volumes, these essays are held together by two consistent threads: the politics of popular culture and Israel-Palestine.” — Avram Bornstein, International Journal of Middle East Studies

"[P]rovocative. . . . [T]he essays in this volume . . . imaginatively deconstruct aspects of popular culture still seeping across the walls erected through this long and intractable conflict." — Donna Robinson Divine, Digest of Middle East Studies

"Recommended." — D. Peretz, Choice

“Rebecca L. Stein and Ted Swedenburg’s volume Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture makes an invaluable contribution to the growing field of Middle Eastern cultural studies. Refusing essentialist understandings of culture, the editors and authors also transcend traditional Marxist paradigms. The volume insightfully illuminates the often marginalized issue of the politics of culture within the contested terrain of Palestine and Israel.” — Ella Shohat, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Cultural Studies, New York University

“This empirically rich, theoretically innovative, and unusually wide-ranging volume brings together a set of fascinating and insightful explorations of the popular culture and cultural politics of Palestine/Israel, including music, cinema, television, cyberculture, tourism, comics, and the role of Israel and the Jews in U. S. evangelical Christian eschatology. By demonstrating how culture has been a crucial and often formative domain of contention both within and between Arab and Jewish societies in Palestine over the past century and down to the present day, the contributors open up a great deal of extremely valuable terrain that has been sorely neglected until now.” — Zachary Lockman, author of Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism

“This theoretically savvy, eye-opening tour through popular culture in and about Palestine and Israel confirms at once the inherent inseparability of culture/politics and the gripping mutuality of Israel/Palestine.” — Lila Abu-Lughod, author of Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Rebecca L. Stein is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. She is a coeditor of The Struggle for Sovereignty in Palestine and Israel (forthcoming).

Ted Swedenburg is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He is the author of Memories of Revolt: The 1936-39 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past and a coeditor of Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Popular Culture, Transnationality, and Radical History / Rebecca L. Stein and Ted Swedenburg 1

I. Historical Articulations

Wasif Jawhariyyeh, Popular Music, and Early Modernity in Jerusalem / Salim Tamari 27

The Palestinian Press in Mandatory Jaffa: Advertising, Nationalism, and the Public Sphere / Mark LeVine 51

Post-Zionism and Its Popular Cultures / Ilan Pappé 77

II. Cinemas and Cyberspaces

Cross/Cast: Passing in Israeli and Palestinian Cinema / Carol Bardenstein 99

Virtual Nation: Palestinian Cyberculture in Lebanese Camps / Laleh Khalili 126

Is There a Palestinian National Cinema?: The National and Transnational in Palestinian Film Production / Livia Alexander 150

III. The Politics of Music

Liberating Songs: Palestine Put to Music / Joseph Massad 175

Dueling Nativities: Zehava Ben Sings Umm Kulthum / Amy Horowitz 202

Against Hybridity: The Case of Enrico Macias/Gaston Chrenassia / Ted Swedenburg 231

IV. Regional and Global Circuits

"First Contact" and Other Israeli Fictions: Tourism, Globalization, and the Middle East Peace Process / Rebecca L. Stein 259

Prophecy, Politics, and the Popular: The Left Behind Series and Christian Evangelicalism's New World Order / Melani McAlister 288

Telling Stories in Palestine: Comix Understanding and Narratives of Palestine-Israel / Mary Layoun 313

Sentimentality and Redemption: The Rhetoric of Egyptian Pop Culture Intifada Solidarity / Elliott Cola 338

Bibliography 365

Contributors 397

Index 401
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3516-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3504-7
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