Organised by: Woolf Institute, Cambridge & Centre for Cultural Literary and Postcolonial Studies, SOAS, University of London

Venue: SOAS, University of London Brunei Gallery, room B102

Date: 12 June 2015

Conference rationale

Thanks to modern mass communication media and commercial entertainment, popular culture has increasingly become a large industry geared for massive consumption while engendering and contesting national and communal identities. Since late nineteenth century, Middle Eastern minorities have contributed to the making of popular culture industries as public performers, producers, writers, filmmakers, musicians, etc.  Meanwhile, popular culture has been a crucial tool in constructing public imagery of both majority and minority ethnic and religious communities. Thus, popular culture has been a site of contradictions and contestations.

This workshop aims at exploring the contribution of all religious and ethnic minorities to the popular culture industries and how popular culture products have represented minorities and dealt with the minority question in modern Middle East during the twentieth century and at present. The workshop hopes to examine national, regional, and cross-regional case studies covering the area from Iran to Morocco, from Turkey to Sudan and beyond. Comparative and diasporic studies are particularly welcome.

Themes may include but are not limited to:

  • Histories of the contribution of ethnic and religious minorities to music, cinema, popular press/ publications, theatre, and TV productions
  • Representation of ethnic and religious minorities in music, cinema, theatre, popular press and TV productions in past and present
  • The treatment of minority question in entertainment industry
  • Nostalgic trends in popular production to good old days of ethnic-diversity in Middle East
  • Jews, Arabs, and Arab-Jews in Israeli popular culture
  • The Arab-Israeli conflict in popular culture
  • The dynamic of contemporary Christian media in the Arab world
  • Popular culture and the LBGT communities
  • Gendering minorities in popular culture
  • Popular culture and racialising minorities
  • State’s engagement of popular culture production to other or integrate minorities

Further information:

Submission deadline:

Please submit 200 word abstracts to: by December 12 2014. Those accepted for the workshop will be notified by early February.