Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rai Rap Riots

Check out Marco Werman's short piece on the Cheb Mami (above left) and K-Mel duet "Parisien du Nord" (on Mami's Meli Meli). Werman is the first US journalist I've come across to suggest that anyone paying attention to Arab popular culture in France would not particularly be surprised by the current rioting by youth in the banlieues. The signs (alienation, hatred for the police, complaints about racism, etc.) have all been there for some time: in novels like Mehdi Cherif's Le thé au harem d'Archimède (Tea in the Harem) from 1983 or Matthieu Kassovitz's 1995 film La Haine or all the great French hip-hop of the last 15 years.

And let me put in a plug for the best US ethnography on the subject, by my friend Paul Silverstein: Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race and Nation (Indiana UP, 2004).

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