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Cairo CosmopolitanPolitics, Culture, and Urban Space in the New Globalized Middle East$
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Diane Singerman and Paul Amar

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9789774162893

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774162893.001.0001

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Egypt's Pop-music Clashes and the ‘world-crossing’ Destinies of Muhammad ‘ali Street Musicians

Egypt's Pop-music Clashes and the ‘world-crossing’ Destinies of Muhammad ‘ali Street Musicians

(p.513) 19 Egypt's Pop-music Clashes and the ‘world-crossing’ Destinies of Muhammad ‘ali Street Musicians
Cairo Cosmopolitan

Nicolas Puig

American University in Cairo Press

The suq al-musiqiyyin (the musicians' market) in Cairo refers to the social space of popular-class (sha'bi) urban music, the live music played at weddings but also at mulids (Sufi saint's festival). This is a vernacular genre that is defined in a distinctive realm of musical training, social affiliations, and professional practices. These musicians of the suq have developed a specific urban subculture concentrated in a few cafés of Muhammad 'Ali Street. However, these musicians are quite stigmatized by the rest of Cairo inhabitants as a group of outsiders with very low social status. Their presentation of musical styles or cultural promotions, results in the “folklorization” of rural music and the stigmatization of urban music and of popular-class musicians in general. It is this struggle for collective survival, recognition, and markets in a spatially fragmented and class-segmented city that this chapter discusses.

Keywords:   suq al-musiqiyyin, Cairo, social space, sha'bi, mulids, urban subculture, Muhammad 'Ali Street, folklorization, rural music, urban music

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