Dabke is traditional, nonreligious dance music from Greater Syria. In the 1980s, it went through a rapid transition from live into synthesized performance, allowing musicians to experiment with new available sounds that reached global electronic music dance floors. This article examines how the Palestinian electro-dabke bands Ministry of Dub-Key and 47Soul perform rooted authenticity in conjunction with cosmopolitan aesthetics to appeal stylistically to both local and foreign audiences. Whereas Palestinian cultural performance has focused in the past on heroic struggle or victimized suffering, Palestinian electro-dabke bands evoke both localized sentiments of national pride in refashioned cosmopolitan folklore and international political solidarity based on human similarity and the shared experience of joy. This dual message is further communicated through the centrality of active audience participation in dancing dabke. Although universal humanity can be used cynically to demonstrate cultural othering to Western spectators or to diminish support to Palestinian national liberation, the article argues that Palestinian electro-dabke musicians capitalize on universal, borderless, and stateless humanity to create international solidarity with Palestinian national struggle by performing rooted cultural expressions.
Research Article|January 01 2018
Electro-Dabke: Performing Cosmopolitan Nationalism and Borderless Humanity
Public Culture (2018) 30 (1): 173-196.