Hip Hop & Diaspora: Connecting the Arab Spring (Arab Media & Society)

Published in: ARAB MEDIA & SOCIETY, ISSUE 13, SUMMER 2011

May 31, 2011 (Arab Media & SocietyOriginal Link): Since the self-immolation of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi in December 2010 unleashed the pro-democracy movements now popularly known as the “Arab Spring”, the clamor for change and opportunity has continued to sweep through the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Citizen journalism has allowed for a near-constant stream of images of bloody uprisings from Libya to Syria, as people throughout the Arab world seek to redefine their relationships to the state apparatus and their rights as citizens. From the outset, these movements have been accompanied by a very strong musical component, from troubadours in Cairo’s Tahrir square to the adhans uniting in both faith and protest. Yet it has been hip-hop that has become the most iconic and widespread soundtrack of the Arab Spring and, interestingly, it is having the double effect of helping to mobilize activists in the countries directly impacted by the pro-democracy movements while also solidifying links between Arab diasporic communities in the West with those still residing in the ‘homeland.’