Works-in-Progress: Neoliberal Orientalism and the Arab Uprisings: Art and Politics in the ‘Arab Street’

CRRC, ARISC and American Councils present the 20th talk of the Spring/Summer 2016 Works-in-Progress season!

“Neoliberal Orientalism and the Arab Uprisings: Art and Politics in the ‘Arab Street’” by Rayya El Zein, Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Adapted from parts of the author’s doctoral dissertation, in this talk she argues that a particular configuration of empire, capital, and media produces a framework of representing Arab youth in the wake of the Arab Uprisings of 2011-2013. Neoliberal orientalism marks particular ways of representing, accessing, and understanding Arab youth cultures and politics. Besides perpetuating orientalist stereotypes about Arab “others” and the political and social systems in predominantly Muslim societies, neoliberal orientalism is particular in how it depoliticizes by liberalizing Arab youth and emergent political expression. This talk identifies the frameworks neoliberal orientalist representation of Arab artists in particular, and works to unpack how they function.

Rayya El Zein holds a PhD from the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her dissertation focused on rap concerts in the Arab world and the frameworks of representation that determined politics for Arab youth in urban contexts in the Levant. Her work and reviews have been published in Lateral, Theatre Journal, Ethnomusicology Forum, ROAR, and on the e-zine Jadaliyya. She lives in Tbilisi.

W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the new office of CRRC at Chkhikvadze St. 1. It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public.

The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Would you like to present at one of the W-i-P sessions? Send an e-mail to