Virtually Islamic Blog

Gary R. Bunt

'Cassette Tap Revolution'

New and noted article: Simon, Andrew. “CENSURING SOUNDS: TAPES, TASTE, AND THE CREATION OF EGYPTIAN CULTURE.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, n.d., 1–24. doi:10.1017/S0020743819000035.

"In this article, I argue that audiocassette technology decentralized state-controlled Egyptian media long before the advent of al-Jazeera and the Internet. By enabling any citizen to become a cultural producer, as opposed to a mere consumer, the mass medium and its users sparked significant anxiety in the mid-to-late 20th century, when contentious cassette recordings led many local critics to assert that “vulgar” tapes were poisoning public taste, undermining high culture, and endangering Egyptian society. This article breaks down these arguments and shows that audiotapes actually broadcast a vast variety of voices. Thus, underlying many criticisms of cassette content, I contend, was not simply a concern for aesthetic sensibilities but a desire to dictate who created Egyptian culture during a time of tremendous change. By unpacking these discussions, this article harnesses Egypt as a case study to enhance prevailing investigations of sound, popular culture, and mass media in Middle East studies."

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