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Title: Munshidāt : female Sufi performers in Egypt
Author: Dunleavy, Wendy Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 3330
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2006
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Munshidät perform inshnd, which includes the recitation of poems and stories, as well as the performance of religious and popular songs, to mixed gender audiences at public Sufi celebrations and other religious, social and life cycle events, in Cairo and the Delta region of Lower Egypt. The public performance of music and song by women is highly contentious, generating heated debate amongst all strata of Egyptian society, yet munshidit have remained hitherto undocumented. My research on this subject has two main areas of focus. In the first instance it contextualises munshidit by framing it against the background of Islamic and social dictates on the public performance of women and briefly exploring the recent history of female performance in Egypt. It highlights the controversy generated by professional musicianship in Islam and relates this, coupled with contemporary shifts in the political, religious and social climate, to munshidit. Further to this, it identifies a stratum of Egypt's Islamic society in which women have the opportunity to perform in religious ritual and express musical creativity in the public domain. Secondly, by putting them in the context of Egypt's dominant religious and political discourses, this research presents an analysis of the performance practice and repertoire of munshidit. By referencing video footage taken by me in the field, it investigates the genres, styles and strategies used by munshidät to elicit audience responses and induce heightened emotions at particular points. Further to this, it illustrates the various strategies used in story telling, not only to raise emotional levels but also to raise the status of the performer, build a sense of community amongst audiences, and negotiate and comment on social dictates, politics and change. Finally, it explores commercial aspects of their performance and addresses issues concerning image production and self promotion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available