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AFS Review: Notes

Arts and Democracy Folk Culture

Monday, March 14, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Susan Eleuterio
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I recently participated in an international conference call on Arts and Democracy; particularly in Egypt, the Middle East and North Africa. More information and a link to the recording of the call can be found here.

The program was put together by the International Coalition for Arts, Human Rights & Social Justice. Here's a summary of the panel put together for the call:

On March 2nd 2011, the Arts & Democracy Project hosted a nation-wide conference call discussing the role of arts and culture in the extraordinary people’s movements in Egypt and Libya and the protests for democracy sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East. It turned out to be an international call with participants calling in from the Middle East including presenter, Dahlia Basiouny, a writer & theatre artist from Egypt. From her frontline observations from Cairo, along with contributions from Ahmed Issawi, Alwan for the Arts (NYC/Egypt) and Khaled Mattawa, poet & professor (Michigan/Libya), participants gained insight on Arab and Arab-American perspectives, and learned how artists and cultural organizers in the region and in the U.S. are participating and responding.The call was initiated by the Arts & Democracy Project. The call was co-organized by Andrea Assaf of Art2Action and Todd Lester of freeDimensional.

Of particular interest to folklorists was the El Mastaba Center for Egyptian Folk Music.

From the El Mastaba website:

El Mastaba played an active role in the Egyptian Revolution, bringing the groups under its umbrella to Tahrir Square to share their music in five evening concerts on the stages built in the square. The three bands that participated in the concerts were all chosen from the Suez Canal area, as their music has always been a symbol for peoples' resistance.

It would be great to see folklorists documenting the role of folk music, poetry, and folk speech in these revolutionary movements of our time.

Sue Eleuterio, Independent Folklorist

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