The Third International Conference on Music and Cultural Identity / المؤتمر الدولي الموسيقى وهوية الشعوب

The Third International Conference on Music and Cultural Identity /

المؤتمر الدولي الموسيقى وهوية الشعوب

The Faculty of Music Education, Helwan University, Egypt

March 2020

Conference Paper: "Hybrid Identities/Hybrid Music: The Political Aesthetics of Arab Youth Music Performances in Diaspora"



This paper analyzes the interaction between the musical productions, and the cultural identity of young Arab musicians in Western diaspora. The theme of ‘hybridity’ tackles questions regarding the national identity, particularly when the music performances in diaspora voice political struggles in the homeland. Bringing together elements of political aesthetics, multiculturalism, and ideology of nationalism, the present research examines the music performances of two Arab bands in Western diaspora. The first is ‘47Soul’, a London-based band of Jordanian and Palestinian origins that fuses the music folklore of the Levant, with electronic sonic systems, in songs articulating the Palestinian struggle. The second is ‘Nas Jota,’ a Sudanese music group and production platform, based in the United States of America. Nas Jota produces hip-hop music, mixed with African reggae, employing code-switching, and voicing political opposition against the dictatorship of the former regime in Sudan. The paper highlights the intercultural exchange between the features representing the national identity, and those representing the emerging identity in diaspora. As a result, the paper aims to illustrate that the musical fusions of the two bands are reflective of hybrid identities. The paper places the music performances in the cultural and political contexts of their composition and reception. Offering an interdisciplinary approach, the research argues that the hybrid identities of these young musicians are represented in the hybridity of their musical productions. In addition, the engagement of the music performances with national political struggles in the homeland reveals the close attachments of diasporic Arab youth with their national identity ties.


Keywords: hybrid identity, national consciousness, diaspora studies, musical fusion, political aesthetics, Sudanese rap, electro-dabke, music identity