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Music, Politics and ‘Organic Artists’ during the Arab Spring

Contention vs. Status Quo in Tunisia and Morocco

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Author:
Amina Boubia
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Abstract

Music and politics have long been related. In the Middle East, the Arab Spring has shed new light on how artists can become involved as legitimate public figures taking part in crucial political developments. By looking at Tunisia and Morocco, where constitutional reforms took place with different outcomes in that context, I explore the extent to which the Tunisian and Moroccan music scenes contributed to the uprisings. On a theoretical level, I add to the theories of collective action and social movements by drawing on a re-interpretation of Albert Hirschman’s typology, and define an original concept inspired by Antonio Gramsci’s work, namely that of the ‘organic artist’. Relying on song-text and video-clip analysis, in this paper I examine the artists’ (re)actions to unfolding events, (re)actions which illustrate the challenges they faced. Hence, the fact that the music scenes in both Tunisia and Morocco strongly backed the uprisings reflects only part of the reality.

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