Folk poetry, local knowledge, and resistance in Tunisia

Folk poetry, local knowledge, and resistance in Tunisia

Author: 
Rice, Laura
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2016
Record type: 
Responsibility: 
Hamdy, Karim, jt. author
Journal Title: 
The Journal of North African Studies
Source: 
Journal of North African Studies,Vol. 21, No. 2, March 2016, pp. 283-300
Abstract: 

In pre-Islamic times, Arabic poetry was a potent propaganda weapon among the nomadic Arabian tribes. More than 15 centuries later, not much has changed. In the twenty-first century, Arabic poetry is still used ritualistically to celebrate harvests, weddings, and other happy events, but also to put up a defensive shield against encroachments by outsiders, or to lament the loss of a loved one, the devastation by natural disasters, or the generation gap and loss of a traditional Bedouin lifestyle. The verbal prowess of Arabic nomadic groups led to a flourishing of poetry in both fu a/classical and darija/dialectical Arabic. This essay looks at Tunisian folk poetry - what might be called 'literature from below' - as a potent force sustaining political resistance and cultural identity. We focus on two features of folk poetry (mal un in darija) in southern Tunisia: poetry as resistance to authoritarian regimes, both before and after the January 14, 2011 revolution; and poetry as resistance to the consumerist onslaught, be it Beldi (urban) or neo-liberal, on traditional Bedouin lifestyles. In the context of the revolution in Tunisia, we also explore the reasons some poets composing in fusha share a poetics most often associated with folk poets.

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CITATION: Rice, Laura. Folk poetry, local knowledge, and resistance in Tunisia . : Taylor & Francis Group , 2016. Journal of North African Studies,Vol. 21, No. 2, March 2016, pp. 283-300 - Available at: http://library.au.int/folk-poetry-local-knowledge-and-resistance-tunisia