Syria's radical dabka

Shayna Silverstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A clip circulating on YouTube begins with two sets of feet stepping on a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, defaced with a blood-red X and tossed on the ground. The mass demonstrations of 2011-2012 against the dirty work of Asad have similarly been energized by the rhythms of popular song and dance. With the sights and sounds of dabka, protesters in Syria appeal to public sentiment in ways that evoke the anti-war ballads of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan or, closer to home, the recasting of classic protest songs in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Outspoken, exuberant and youthful, the dancers subvert the staid, deeply ideological official culture that has afflicted Syria for decades. Their collective movement helps to sustain resistance to the state and to mourn the victims of its violence. Today's professional folk dancers similarly evoke the village as a site of cultural authenticity and popular consciousness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMiddle East Report
Issue number263
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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