Writing on Kingdom Walls: Practices, Narratives and Visual Politics of Graffiti and Street Art in Jordan and Morocco


Writing on Kingdom Walls: Practices, Narratives, and Visual Politics of Graffiti and Street Art in Jordan and Morocco

Soufiane’s focus is a comparative study on cultural practices and narratives related to art production and its entanglement with resistance and visual politics in North Africa and the Middle East. By working on Morocco and Jordan, he mainly focus on wall-writings, street art, and graffiti in order to understand what wall expressions do, the extent to which they have a particularly political place in society, and how they relate to socio-political transformations.

Soufiane Chinig is a first-year PhD student of anthropology in the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität Berlin. His research in anthropology is on writing and painting on walls in Morocco and Jordan. He also holds an MA in Sociology and Anthropology from Hassan II University in Mohammedia, and a BA in Sociology from Mohammed V University. Alongside his academic work, he is also active in promoting Moroccan cultural heritage and evaluating urban policies in that country.

This episode was recorded on July 31st, 2021 at the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM)

Download the Podcast:  Feed iTunes / Podbean

Posted by Hayet Lansari, Librarian, Outreach Coordinator, Content Curator (CEMA).

Suggested Readings

Abenante, P., Cantini, D. (2014). Introduction. Life-worlds and religious commitment: Ethnographic perspectives on subjectivity and Islam. La Ricerca FolkloricaNo. 69, 18.

Abu-’l-Faraǧ al-Iṣfahānī, ʿAlī Ibn-al-Ḥusain. 2000. The Book of strangers: Mediaeval Arabic graffiti on the theme of nostalgia. Wiener.

Abu-Lughod, L. 1990. The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power Through Bedouin WomenAmerican Ethnologist17(1), 41–55. JSTOR. 

Bayat, A. 2002. Activism and Social Development in the Middle EastInternational Journal of Middle East Studies34(1), 1–28.

Bayat, A. (Ed.). 2010. Life as politics. Amsterdam University Press. 

Bayat, A. 2017. Revolution without revolutionaries: Making sense of the Arab Spring. Stanford University Press.

Becker, C. 2016. Visual Culture and the Amazigh Renaissance in North Africa and its diaspora. In Islam and popular culture (pp. 102–120). University of Texas Press.

Becker, C. J. 2009. Art, self-censorship, and public discourse: Contemporary Moroccan artists at the crossroadsContemporary Islam3(2), 143–166. 

Belarbi, S. 2019. Les graffiti comme rhétorique de contestation. Le hirak du Rif. Insaniat. p.113-130. 

Bourdieu, P. 1977. Sur le pouvoir symboliqueAnnales32(3), 405–411. 

Bourdieu, P. 1980. Le sens pratique. Éditions de Minuit.

Bseiso, R. A. R. 2017. Revolutionary Art or “Revolutonizing Art”? Making Art on the Streets of CairoArab Media & SocietyIssue 23, Winter/Spring.

Clément, J.-F. 1993. L’image dans le monde Arabe : Interdit et possibilités. Annuaire de l’Afrique Du Nord.Tome XXXII. CNRS Editions.

Clifford, J. 2021. The Predicament of Culture. In The Predicament of Culture. Harvard University Press. 

Clifford, J., Marcus, G. E. (Eds.). 1986. Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, 25th Anniversary Edition (2nd ed.). ‎ University of California Press.

DeTurk, S. 2015. The “Banksy Effect” and Street Art in the Middle EastStreet Art and Urban Creativity Scientific Journal

DeTurk, S. 2019. Street Art in the Middle East. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. 

Dilworth, G. 2017. Jabal al-weibdeh: A counter-memory of Amman a case study in the resistance of memoryIndependent Study Project (ISP) Collection.

Eickelman, D. F. (1976). Moroccan Islam: Tradition and Society in a Pilgrimage Center. University of Texas Press.

El Ayadi, M., Rachik, H., & Tozy, M. 2007. L’islam au quotidien: Enquête sur les valeurs et les pratiques religieuses au Maroc. Éd. Prologues.

Elansary, H. 2014. Revolutionary Street Art: Complicating the Discourse. Jadaliyya, No 7.

Fabian, J. 1998. Moments of Freedom: Anthropology and Popular Culture. University Press of Virginia. 

FERRELL, J. 1995. Urban Graffiti: Crime, Control, and ResistanceYouth & Society27(1), 73–92. 

Foucault, M. 1982. The Subject and PowerCritical Inquiry8(4), 777–795. 

Hannerz, U. 2003. Being there. . . And there. . . And there! Reflections on multi-site ethnography. Ethnography4(2), 201–216.

Heinsohn, B. 2015. Critical Voices from the Underground: Street Art and Urban Transformation in Berlin. In J. E. Twark & A. Hildebrandt (Eds.), Envisioning Social Justice in Contemporary German Culture (NED-New edition, pp. 119–142). Boydell & Brewer; JSTOR. 

Imbert, F. 2019. Espaces de liberté et contraintes graphiques dans les graffiti du début de l’islam. In C. Pinon (Ed.), Savants, amants, poètes et fous: Séances offertes à Katia Zakharia (pp. 161–174). Presses de l’Ifpo. 

Johnson, N. 2017. The Writing on the Walls: Street art as a site of participation in discourse and a platform for voice in the Moroccan public sphereIndependent Study Project (ISP) Collection

Laroui, A. 1977. Les origines sociales et culturelles du nationalisme marocain: (1830—1912). Maspero.

Latour, B. 2002. What is Iconoclash? or is there a World Beyond the Image Wars? In Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art (p. 26). MIT Press.

Lukens-Bull, R. A. 1999. Between Text and Practice: Considerations in the Anthropological Study of Islam4(2), 21.

MacGillivray, L., & Curwen, M. S. 2007. Tagging as a Social Literacy PracticeJournal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy,50(5), 354–369.

Mcauliffe, C. 2012. Graffiti or Street Art? Negotiating the Moral Geographies of the Creative CityJournal of Urban Affairs34(2), 189–206.

McAuliffe, C. 2015. Young People and The Spatial Politics of Graffiti Writing. In N. Worth, C. Dwyer, & T. Skelton (Eds.), Identities and Subjectivities (pp. 1–23). Springer Singapore. 

Medina, J. 2011. Toward a Foucaultian Epistemology of Resistance: Counter-Memory, Epistemic Friction, and Guerrilla PluralismFoucault Studies, 9–35. 

Nicoarea, G. 2012. Cultural Interactions in The Graffiti Subculture of The Arab World. Between Globalization and Cosmopolitanism.

Oinas, E., Onodera, H., & Suurpää, L. (Eds.). 2017. What Politics? – Youth and Political Engagement in Africa | Brill(Vol. 06). Brill.

Ortner, S. B. 1995. Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic RefusalComparative Studies in Society and History37(1), 173–193.

Ortner, S. B. 2005. Subjectivity and cultural critiqueAnthropological Theory5(1), 31–52. 

Powers, L. A. 1996. Whatever Happened to the Graffiti Art Movement? The Journal of Popular Culture29(4), 137–142. 

Reisner, R. 1971. Graffiti Two Thousand Years of Wall Writing. Cowles Book Co. 

Rogan, E. L. 1986. Physical Islamization in AmmanThe Muslim World76(1), 24–42. 

Ross, J. I., Bengtsen, P., Lennon, J. F., Phillips, S., & Wilson, J. Z. 2017. In search of academic legitimacy: The current state of scholarship on graffiti and street artThe Social Science Journal54(4), 411–419. 

Salois, K. 2016. Fleas in the Sheepskin: Glocalization and Cosmopolitanism in Moroccan Hip-Hop. In K. van Nieuwkerk, M. LeVine, & M. Stokes (Eds.), Islam and Popular Culture. University of Texas Press.

Schacter, R. 2008. An Ethnography of Iconoclash: An Investigation into the Production, Consumption and Destruction of Street-art in LondonJournal of Material Culture13(1), 35–61. 

Schielke, S. 2010. Second thoughts about the anthropology of Islam, or how to make sense of grand schemes in everyday life2.

Schielke, S. 2016. Can poetry change the world? Reading Amal Dunqul in Egypt in 2011. In K. van Nieuwkerk, M. LeVine, & M. Stokes (Eds.), Islam and popular culture. University of Texas Press.

Schielke, S. 2018. A City of Walls. A Photo Essay on Writing on Walls in Alexandria, 2011-2017Égypte/Monde Arabe, No 17, 157–191. 

Schielke, S., & Winegar, J. 2012. The Writing on the Walls of Egypt. Middle East Report, No 5.

Schindler, L., & Schäfer, H. 2021. Practices of Writing in Ethnographic WorkJournal of Contemporary Ethnography50 (1), 11–32.

Smith, N. R. 2020. Spatial Poetics Under Authoritarianism: Graffiti and the Contestation of Urban Redevelopment in Contemporary ChinaAntipode52(2), 581–601. 

Ter Laan, N. 2016. “Islam is There to Make People Free”: Islamist Musical Narratives of Freedom and Democracy in the Moroccan Spring. In K. van Nieuwkerk, M. LeVine, & M. Stokes (Eds.), Islam and Popular Culture. University of Texas Press.

Tsilimpounidi, M. 2015. “If These Walls Could Talk”: Street Art and Urban Belonging in the Athens of Crisis. Laboratorium7(2), 18–35.

Van Nieuwkerk, K., LeVine, M., & Stokes, M. (Eds.). 2016. Islam and Popular Culture. University of Texas Press.

Winegar, J. 2006. Creative Reckonings: The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt. Stanford University Press.