Wednesday, Nov. 13: Cosmopolitanism and Monoculture

Note: Don’t forget the screening of Ali Zaoua in Moody 126 Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 6:00 pm.

On this sunny, windy Monday morning we talked about controversies surrounding globalization of culture and indigenous rights. We focused on three basic topics: the dominant development paradigm, indigenous rights, and globalization as a hybridizing, cosmopolitanizing force rather than a homogenizing force. These topics will shape our understanding of the material we’ll be looking at next: the Egyptian graphic novel Metro and the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Here below are a couple of articles to read for Wednesday about comic book culture and science fiction in Egypt. I’m also throwing in a few other things to look at (at your leisure) related to some of the things we discussed on Monday.

First, read this article about Metro. Then read this article about science fiction and comic book genres in Egypt. Last, read this article about the controversy surround George Orwell’s 1984 in Egypt during the past week.

If you’re interested in some further reading, check out this article about Conflict Kitchen and this article about user experience design in Africa and this one about the underdevelopment of Africa following the Scramble for Africa in the 1880s and 1890s.

And last but not least, to get you ready for reading Metro, a Harlem Shake video shot in a Cairo Metro car.


Update for Wednesday’s class

The ethics of cultural appropriation haunt any discussion of cosmopolitanism and global monoculture. Arab-American novelist Randa Jarrar waded into this mess earlier this year with an article on “white belly dancers” and a followup article about the hateful response (see image below). These questions have also settled on popular culture with Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift being accused of exploitative appropriate of African-American cultural practices.

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Cultural appropriation is bidirectional (or multidirectional) anyway, and I like this French hip-hop video by MC Solaar as an illustration of that point:

So we’re discussing comic book culture in class and its appropriation as a form of expression in contemporary Egypt.

Here’s an example of a really fascinating one, Tok-Tok. I’ll bring some physical copies of it to class on Friday.


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