Culture in the Arab World!
Andrew. Pop Culture in the Arab World! ABC-CLIO, hardcover,
376 pages. ISBN: 1851094490, $85.
by Issandr El Amrani, TBS book reviews editor
The past decade saw
a boom of Arabic pop music both in the region, notably through
vehicles such as satellite television, as well as internationally.
In particular, the rise of sultry starlets and songstresses
(mostly from Egypt and Lebanon) has caused something of a social
and political upheaval. In recent years, parliaments in Kuwait,
Jordan, Egypt and Morocco (at least) habe debated whether the
dangerous curves and heaving bosoms of stars such as Heifa Wehbi,
Nancy Agram or Ruby -- seen in music videos that try to outdo
each other in brawen sexuality -- were a threat to national
security. Andrew Hammond's Pop Culture Arab World!
examines these phenomena, gets the backstories to the stars'
lives and the controversy around their careers.
An excellent guide to understand the contemporary landscape
of Arabic pop music in particular, it also has fascinating entries
on older stars from the 1950s and 1960s. There exists no English-language
book as comprehensive on the pop culture of the region in the
last 50 years. The only regret is that, since this book is part
of a series on different regions of the world, it could not
have taken a more idiosyncratic format, such as a collection
of essays or thematically linked chapters, instead of its current
dictionary form. There are many insights and ideas about contemporary
Arab culture here that deserve a more in-depth approach.