MUSICULT '16: International Music and Cultural Studies Conference

MUSICULT '16: International Music and Cultural Studies Conference

DAKAM (Eastern Mediterranean Academic Research Center), Istanbul, Turkey

May 2016

Axis: Politics and Music

Conference paper presentation: "Youth Protest Music as Counter Discourse in Egypt"


The present study examines the dynamics of youth artistic activism in Egypt as realized in protest songs, produced accompanying key political events between 2010 and 2014. Guided by post-Marxist approach, the study highlights two social functions of protest songs: first, the articulation of shared political sentiments to contest regimes’ hegemonic authority during social movements, and second, the documentation of an alternative national consciousness that is reflective of the people on the social margin- a consciousness that is both national and popular. Central to this endeavor is the assertion that the above-mentioned functions are best understood through the socio- historical context of social action during which the selected songs emerged. The study is informed by Antonio Gramsci’s concepts of ‘hegemony’ and ‘national-popular’ to trace young Egyptian’s protest songs as alternative documentation of a counter narrative. In addition, the study endeavors to offer textual and stylistic analyses of selected protest songs to interpret the young artistic response to regime’s discourse. In so doing, the analysis engages issues of ideological hegemony, and youth artivism in Egypt, arguing for the power of youth protest songs, in specific, and youth artistic activism, in general, in defying state hegemony, social marginalization and political oppression.