This paper explores the way in which hip hop artists Iraqi British Lowkey, Iraqi Canadian Narcy, and the Palestinian crew DAM deploy music to challenge narratives of terrorism that are constructed to achieve political objectives and consequently obfuscate geopolitical inequities. Central to these narratives is the figure of the terrorist who is often conflated with Arabs, Muslims, Middle Easterners, and those who express dissent against these narratives. All three artists use hip hop to deconstruct the narratives of terrorism in order to address the perspectives of marginalized groups and to problematize their use. Through their music, Lowkey, Narcy, and DAM contest definitions of terrorism that are differentially applied to certain communities and do not address the use of violence, specifically state violence, to achieve political objectives. These artists suggest an alternative framework where terrorism is not determined by a specific cultural, ethnic, national, or religious affiliation, the root causes of violence are considered, and the complex geopolitical landscape contextualized.
Refusing the Interrogation: Hip Hop's Challenge to Narratives of Terrorism
Reem M. Hilal is an assistant professor of Arabic language and cultures in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on Arab and Muslim experiences in literary and cultural production, specifically in diasporic representations.
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Reem M. Hilal; Refusing the Interrogation: Hip Hop's Challenge to Narratives of Terrorism. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 March 2020; 32 (1): 57–77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2020.32.1.57
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