In the fall of 2012 Palestinian hip-hop group DAM released a provocative music video titled, “If I Could Go Back in Time,” focusing on so-called “honor crimes.” Despite widespread support for their previous work, “If I Could Go Back in Time” drew considerable criticism for de-contextualizing, romanticizing, and by extension disempowering Palestinian women. Through a critical analysis of this music video as well as the ensuing debate surrounding its interpretation and reception, this article argues that the critical interventions made by politically engaged hip-hop artists, such as DAM, offer a unique vantage point with which to better understand the contested terrain of Palestinian activism. By tracing DAM's long history of political engagement this article examines the discourses that determine “acceptable” forms of activism among competing publics, and further demonstrates how the field of popular culture serves to shape (both positively and negatively) the potential impact of, and audience for, any activist intervention. Drawing from the recent release of the bi-national feature film, Junction 48, this article further explores how DAM front man, Tamer Nafar, has attempted to displace the compassionate gaze of international audiences, respond to colonial logics of elimination, and carve out autonomous spaces for self-reflection and radical vulnerability.
Junction 48: Hip-Hop Activism, Gendered Violence, and Vulnerability in Palestine
David A. McDonald is chair of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. A recipient of both the Chicago Prize and the Jaap Kunst Prize, he is author of My Voice is My Weapon: Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance (Duke University Press, 2013) and co-editor of Palestinian Music and Song: Expression and Resistance since 1990 (Indiana University Press, 2013). Since 2002 he has worked closely with Palestinian refugee communities in Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, and North America. Further correspondence is encouraged to firstname.lastname@example.org.
David A. McDonald; Junction 48: Hip-Hop Activism, Gendered Violence, and Vulnerability in Palestine. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 March 2020; 32 (1): 26–43. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2020.32.1.26
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