Communication and Culture | Performance, Culture, and Power in the Middle East and North Africa
C422 | 13318 | Goodman, J.

MTuWTh, 10:20 AM-11:00 AM, C2 100

Fulfills College S&H Requirement
Fulfills College Culture Studies Requirement (List A)

Instructor: Jane Goodman
Office: C2 227
Phone: 855-3232

This is an especially important moment in global history to develop
a more nuanced understanding of Middle Eastern societies. In this
course, we will explore the complex relationships between cultural
values, power relations, and communicative practices among various
populations of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).  Taking an
ethnographic perspective, we view performance not only in terms of a
formal display for an audience but also as the range of events and
practices through which cultural values are negotiated and social
relations are organized.  In other words, Moroccan marketplace talk,
Bedouin women’s love poetry, or the listening practices of young
male consumers of Algerian rai (world beat) music will be as
important to our inquiry as the staged concerts of a national
Egyptian star.  As we ask what it is that people are up to when they
engage in communicative practices, we will also problematize
what “communicative practice” entails and how it has been variously
theorized. In moving from what scholars of performance have called
the interaction order (face-to-face communication) to global media,
we will necessarily be engaging with a range of theoretical models,
drawn from fields including anthropology, performance studies, and
cultural studies.

The focus of the course is on how communicative practice is
organized in the societies of the MENA rather than on how these
societies are represented by Western media. At the same time, we
acknowledge that the authors (mostly Western) whose works we will be
reading have their own positionality with regards to the locations
of their research, and we will also attend to their representational
practices and politics.

The course format features structured discussions, minilectures,
small group work, and video and audio presentations.