Saturday, October 27, 2012

Taqwacore, the subculture of the Muslim punks

As I was researching about punk rock in the Middle East, I came across the Taqwacore subculture which I had no idea existed. Taqwacore is punk rock movement that has emerged following the publication of Muhammad Michael Knight’s 2003 novel, The Taqwacores, depicting a fictitious Islamic punk rock scene. The word has been derived by combining two words – “taqwa”, an Islamic concept of love and fear for Allah, and “hardcore”, the punk rock subgenre. In other words, Taqwacore can be viewed as a punk music with a Muslim connotation.

According to Hebdige, “spectacular subcultures express forbidden contents in forbidden forms. They are profane articulations and they are often and significantly defined as unnatural…” This can be applied to the Taqwacore subculture where express ion of forbidden content in forbidden forms is regular (e.g. expressing frustration of 9/11 attacks in their lyrics; women-led prayers). The basis of the subculture that is the merging of two seemingly incongruous identities contributes to the spectacular nature of the subculture. Punk rock, as a subculture and musical style actively resists mainstream society and embraces a marginalized identity and role in society. Punk rock blurs traditional boundaries between audience and performer and questions traditional or accepted norms and values. In stark contrast, Islam is a structured religion founded on a deeply personal and individual belief in God and is characterized by selflessness, devotion, and devout sense of social responsibility. From this we can call Taqwacore as a bricolage where the combination of various objects and ideas (in this case punk rock and Islam) appears nonsensical but makes perfect sense to the people involved in the subculture. For the Muslim punks, Taqwacore serves as a platform where they can embrace their own interpretations of Islam via punk rock and use internet to build communities and spread the message.Some of the popular Taqwacore bands are The Kominas, Al - Thawra and Vote Hezbollah.

For this blog article I will be examining the dressing styles and choices by the Muslim punks by viewing it from the two forms of incorporating a subculture – (a) the commodity form & (b) the ideological form. In the Subcultures Reader, Hebdige refers to the commodity form by mentioning that the subculture is communicated through commodities even if the meanings attached to those commodities are purposefully distorted. For the punk rock scene, this commodity form is represented in through the use of spikes, chains, mohawks and dyed hair. Interestingly enough, the Muslim punks combine both the usual punk rock associated styles (use of mohawk and spikes) and Arab traditional wear such as hijabs and the traditional Palestinian checkered scarves which can be seen in the below pictures.

The ideological form occurs when the subcultural style becomes more accepted through the labeling and re-defining of deviant behavior by dominant groups such as the media or the police, through various forms of communication technology. Before the use of pins and spikes on clothing was unheard of and would probably be labeled as fashion disasters. But now, it has become a part of mainstream media and hence has become acceptable. Even in the Qatari society, you can see young females wearing abayas with spikes and pins.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Naturalization in Sport

"Andrés Sebastián Soria Quintana, is a naturalized Qatari footballer who plays as a striker for Lekhwiya" This is the brief introduction of Soria's profile on most websites. Sounds weird? Sebastian = a Qatari name? Well, no, he is a naturalized footballer who now plays regularly for most of Qatar's national team matches and is also extremely popular at club level football. Turns out, that he is not the only one. At a football match that I recently attended in Doha, I noticed that many players had Christian names and did not look Arab as well. As a student of sociology, I found this particularly interesting since one would expect to see the best local players on the national team. So how did this major change happen? and Why?

Qatar's National Football team

Club football has contributed a lot to the exchange of players globally. Today, most major clubs world over have international players coming across the border to play for them. The major reasons for this of course are the financial benefits that they may receive and also, the feeling of being associated with a top of the league club. Globalization has had a huge impact on the sports arena. Players, professionals, staff, money and brands have all been and continue to be exchanged across borders at high levels. Football , or Soccer, has always been the number one sport in terms of fan following, television rating points and investments. As an effect of globalization, several players moved to different parts of the world where their talent could be harnessed and they had better opportunities to make money and develop professionally.

The idea of capitalism is of course at the heart of all this change. Club football is probably one of the highest revenue generating form of sport today. Corporations spend millions of dollars on advertising and communication so that their brand gets noticed by the majority. Most major companies like McDonalds and Coca Cola are official sponsors of world class events such as the Olympics, FIFA World Cup etc. This gives them huge exposure which of course any major corporation would love to have. Corporations are known for their extensive support when it comes to subcultures and hence, sport is a major area of interest for all the big brands in the industry today.

                                   The usual sponsors at most events

The process of naturalization is not really new but its just that there is a lot of focus on it today since many countries are practicing it. Several countries today have naturalized players representing various national teams. In Qatar, most sports have naturalized citizens playing for them. In football, table-tennis, basketball, swimming etc. there are several players who are not originally from Qatar. While many players are born in Qatar and perhaps have lived in Qatar all their lives, they wouldn't have been granted citizenship under normal conditions. But, when it comes to sport, this exception seems to be made easily. In class this week, we discussed about variance. It is important to note here that variance can go in both directions. It doesn't necessarily have to be deviant. The idea of naturalized sports persons can also be seen as a form of variance. The team demographics in general isn't deviant in any respect, but there is a level of difference that seems significant. For instance, at the beginning of the national anthem in the Qatar-Japan game, there were hardly any Qatari players who were singing the anthem. The reason being that they probably didn't know them in the first place.

           The band ready for the anthems

But this is an accepted culture in the world today. The idea of dominant culture is key here. In this case, the dominant culture is the culture of FIFA, that sets the rules and regulations for international football. Players too seem to make the shift without any major issues since ultimately they benefit the most. We discussed the idea of tribalization and de-tribalization in class last week. Given the huge financial incentives, many players don't mind de-tribalizing from their original communities and seek citizenship in other countries.

Still, for varying political reasons, FIFA has deliberately kept eligibility rules rather vague. Its Article 18 reads in full:
1. Any player who is a naturalized citizen of a country in virtue of that country’s laws shall be eligible to play for a national or representative team of that country.

This culture has been introduced and to some extent supported by FIFA and so the other countries just try to adapt and thereby take advantage of the dominant culture and make it look like they are merely adhering to the broader culture. Communication needs to be clear and definite.  Statements such as these need to be more specific and clear. As per this statement, any country could grant citizenship for a period of time and have a particular player represent their country. The homology of FIFA has begun to take a different direction though. Recently, they have introduced strict regulations on the naturalization process. For instance, a player must play at least five years of club football in the country before he/she can represent the country. Qatar has done a great job with following the rules and developing a strategy. Players like Sebastian Soria and others have been around in Qatar for years and they played for Qatar only after clearing the eligibility requirements. The Qatari crowd today loves Sebastian and he is still a key performer in most matches for Qatar. The video below shows how the country embraces Sebastian as their player. Notice the commentator's support too!


While FIFA has set several regulations for this, there are other sports that continue to naturalize players for a short duration. This perhaps need to be re-thought and is in fact a complex debate since it deals with several socio-political domains such as nationality, ethnicity, religion, diplomacy, culture, belief and values. The global sporting arena would be interesting to look at in the coming years.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Once Upon A Subculture

Throughout the years the subculture of hipsters has evolved significantly. There has been resistance from society towards hipsters and what they embody and represent. I associate hipsters with being totally against the mainstream and conventional ideas. The phrase “don’t trust the system,” reminds me of the hipster style since it seems that the subculture strongly value nature, originality and freedom beyond the confinements of society. The hipster subculture is a culture within the larger culture. They have their own set of beliefs, values and interests. The subculture discussed is at variance with the larger culture. It seems to me that hipsters are completely against the materialistic way of life and the obsession with consumerism. However, that has drastically changed as the subculture has been accepted and incorporated into the larger culture.

Recently, hipsters have been made apart of the mainstream and larger culture. Websites like Tumblr has helped incorporate the subculture into the larger society. It has become the norm and popular to dress and have similar beliefs which were originally that of hipsters. Is it ironic that a subculture that is built on a belief that is completely against society become incorporated into the mainstream? Are we all hipsters at heart? Has the incorporation of the hipster lifestyle abolish the hipster subculture? All these questions formulated in my head when the hipster incorporation took place. It was confusing seeing a subculture resisted by the masses becoming a trend. However, further reading suggested that the taking on of a subculture by the popular media is a frequent occurrence.

Hebdige brought up two ways in which this occurrence happened. The subcultural styles are incorporated into the mainstream culture by the commodity form and/or the ideological form. The commodity form is “the conversion of subcultures signs into mass-produced objects.” This implies that corporate companies use these subculture styles to create new trends. The ideological form is “the labeling and re-definition of deviant behavior by dominant groups.” The two forms can be applied to the diffusion of the hipster subculture into the popular media. Since culture is not fixed it can take on many different trends and continuously alter.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Souq Waqif - The Kebabization Experience

As a CDA for the dorms on campus I am required to program events each month that engage the residents with the local culture. Last weekend I took the residents on my floor to Souq Waqif for a program titled “Kebabization”. Initially, I intended this program title to be a pun on the various terms in academia that are created with the “ization” standard. However, visiting Souq Waqif was a different experience this time around because I actually had those terms (that I used to come up with “kebabization”) at the back of my head. This allowed me to look at this experience from a relatively new lens.
Souq Waqif, with its fascinating streets filled with budging tourists and locals was as lively as ever. The bus dropped us off in front of a falcon shop. The falcons in the shop were pretty expensive but the falcon shop and other similar “performances” of the local culture reminded me of Cole’s notion of performance in “Bedouiness”. I regard this as a performance, as this is similar to the attempts for the “revival of tradition” in Petra and part of the quest for “authentic” presentation of the local culture. These performances are visible all over Souq Waqif in forms of the many Arab restaurants whose hosts are dressed up in elegant traditional dresses, allowing the visitor to “buy hospitality” as suggested by Cole in the same article.
I have always noticed a particular group of elderly men with carts around Souq Waqif. This time around I found out that they are called the “Hamali”. In sociological terms I would regard this group as a subculture. This is because this group shares unique instruments (their carts), uniforms and space. This aspect helps them stand out in the crowd at Souq Waqif. I have not seen them anywhere else in Doha so far.
Walking around Souq Waqif and noticing global brands like Baskin & Robins present along with the Shujja Iranian Kebab place that we visited hints towards glocalization to an extent. Souq Waqif, as previously mentioned is an attempt to revive Qatari tradition. Cole also describes this as the change from “the Bedouin into wealthy entrepreneurs of international tourism”. This is a confluence of various sociological and modern communications phenomenon presenting a very interesting situation. The architecture of Souq Waqif has always fascinated me. It reminds me of the Prince of Persia games that I played during my childhood. This time, however, with the set of academic inventory with me I observed a certain bricolage in Souq Waqif’s architecture. This is a consequence of the fusion of the modern with the traditional. The traditional, however, in this case is the general Arab tradition because many critics regard the Qatari culture as still in the process of development. The modern, for one, in Souq Waqif’s architecture can be seen in the form of beautiful lighting across the traditional alleyways.
Souq Waqif at first may seem chaotic as any marketplace because there is a lot happening at a point in time. A closer look enabled me to apply the concept of homology, which helped me consider the myriad of micro organisations in the large marketplace. One such organisation is the act of trade. Almost every entity at Souq Waqif engages in some kind of trade; whether you are the buyer or the seller or just a simple visitor, you are definitely taking or giving something either in terms of material and non-material culture.
In conclusion, it can be said that a place like Souq Waqif helps us experience the modern and the traditional in one place. It is a highly recommended place for first time visitors and a definite recommendation for locals who want to relive what Arab culture is all about.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Speedcubers - The Famous Rubik's Cube

Over the summer, I went to Jordan for a family reunion. While I was there, I encountered a group of young teenage boys who dedicate several hours of their week simply to learning how to master the Rubik’s cube puzzle. The community of speedcubers is very small Jordan, however their size has not prevented them from meeting, competing and developing their skills. The young boys (no girls were a part of this group) meet every other week to compete and try to beat their previous records. They all have a collection of cubes that they have chosen to practice with. They have learned the technique behind solving the puzzle through YouTube videos posted by competitors around the world. They all carry their favorite cubes with them at all times so that they can practice regardless of where they are.

The Rubik’s cube is considered to be the world’s best selling toy, with over 350 million cubes sold worldwide since its invention in 1974. Although the Rubik’s cube reached its height of mainstream popularity in the 1980’s, there are many competitors who still enjoy competing in solving the puzzle in the quickest timing. Out of the small group of speedcubers I met in Jordan, one of them turned out to be the FIRST PLACE SPEEDCUBER in the MENA region, according to the WORLD CUBE ASSOSIATION.

This community might be small in Jordan, and other Arab countries, however, through globalization and the availability of the Internet, they are able to communicate and compete with people across the globe. They share common terms and have a special “language” in which they discuss the timing, type and size of the Rubik’s cube. For example, “16.21 12.66 15.68 11.34 12.52. Average: 13.62 NR Cube used: Zhanchi” Although they are opposing the larger culture, they are considered a “deviant” or “variant” subculture. To have the dedication and time to study and master the technique is difficult, and only some have done it. All speedcubers seemed to have a polished sense of style – nothing very distinct, but they do look very put together and uniform.
The video below is of one of the contestants being timed by the association in his house in Jordan:

Corporations saw the popularity of this cube as an opportunity to create different accessories or items that are in the shape of the Rubik’s cube. The images below are only some of what is available. Also, they have created cubes in different shapes and sizes. Some cubes are now collectables. The mass production of these products goes back to the concept of capitalism – making a subculture mainstream!

Homology is when the structure of any particular subculture is characterized by an extreme orderliness. This evident in the way that these competitors meet and compete. They have strict rules as to how the Rubik’s cube needs to be shuffled, rules on how to time it and standardized scores to compare against.

Although some cultures are formed through "Bricolage" - where the artists make-do with what they have, this subculture was formed through consumerism and the Internet. However, being loyal to this puzzle and setting up regularities and  community around it has defined those who participate as a part of a  subculture.

One can argue that this subculture is a "Spectacular Subculture" because it is out of the ordinary and certainly amazing. When you want someone solve a puzzle that is very difficult in a matter of seconds it is very surprising!

The community of players escalated the level of challenge of the competitions by having under-water, in-air competitions etc. This has allowed them to grow the puzzle and have more records to beat.

The Meaning of Style and Subcultures in Qatar

For this blog post, I decided to visit a mall and, using prior knowledge about subcultures in Qatar and building off of what we had discussed in sociology class, see if I could determine if people were part of a subculture from how they were dressing, and to also observe if, and how, mainstream fashion and commercialized commodity play a role in Qatar’s subcultures or the lack of them.
Focusing on Qatari women, it was initially hard to determine if a person was just attempting to express individuality, a shift towards a subculture, or just a slight deviance from the dominant culture. After a lot of slightly creepy staring and observation, I began to determine who might fall where. There were some girls with huge hipster glasses and dip-dyed hair peeking out from their sheila, and some with ombre fishtailed braids and galaxy printed leggings in the changing rooms. Others had on abayas with huge studs, or studded belts around their abayas, and bags with studs, and bracelets with studs, and shoes with studs and even headbands with studs. To me, these all seemed to be women who were pulled into the commodity form of a subculture, most likely that of the reemerging mainstreamed hipster or grunge, and not belonging to it at all and probably not knowing the origins of such stylistic choices. However, there was one woman that I saw who stood out (and I apologize that I have no photos of this as the woman was very conservative). One woman who I saw without her abaya, in the changing room of H&M, had on a pair of creepers, I have never seen them sold here so I doubt they are part of the mainstream culture or fashion in Qatar. She also had a lot of short pink and blue hair and chains, which I had never seen on a Qatari woman before, and, from my knowledge on such things, seemed very punk rock in the way she was talking and carrying herself. When recalling this incident to a friend, she told me “she must have been a boya”.
In such a conservative society, it is hard for many women to express their subcultural interests without being labeled as a boya (a tomboy), or being too weird or different, or bringing shame to the family name. From my time spent observing different people, I noticed that it is very important to look at the dominant culture when discussing or examining youth subcultures. To have a spectacular subculture in Qatar that creates ‘noise’ and interference in the orderly sequence and leads to deviation from the cultural norms would be looked down upon with great distain and would probably be legally impossible. The types of subcultures that we see out in the open in more liberal countries such as punks, goths, emos, cosplayers, and grunge are all represented externally by a specific style that defines them as being part of that subculture. In Qatar, these representations of subcultures still exist, but are harder to determine as if one is not fully submerged in the style of a subculture and only partaking in minimal attempts to symbolize their choice are they part of the subculture at all? There are few groups of people who consider themselves as punks, emos, goths or grunge, and yet their styles do not reflect that of the general subculture, as in Qatar, to dress in full representation would be socially unacceptable. In Qatar, it seems as though those who wish they belonged to a more stylistically expressive subculture and could publicly display this are out of luck.
The concept of the commodity form comes into play in this context, as most people who wish to represent a subculture in Qatar end up buying into the commercialized and mainstream forms of it and missing the entire concept of being a subculture. Very few people often succeed in remaining original, mostly by creating their own original clothing or adapting the mainstream fashions back to representing their subcultures in a way that is not part of the dominant culture. Dick Hebdige refers to this commodity form in “The Meaning of Style”, The Subcultures Reader, stating, “as soon as the original innovations which signify ‘subculture’ are translated into commodities and made generally available, they become ‘frozen’. Once removed from their private contexts… they become codified, made comprehensible, rendered at once public property and profitable merchandise.”
Another way of examining and defining the stylistic choices of many Qatari women can be to look at it from the ideological form. As mentioned by Hebdige, the ideological form is when the subcultural style becomes more accepted through the labeling and re-defining of deviant behavior by dominant groups such as the media or the police, through various forms of communication technology. In Qatar, the wearing of studs and spikes on almost every visible surface of an abaya would, in the past, be unheard of and would probably result in many upset mothers, however, now that it is just part of the new mainstream fashion, it seems to be very acceptable. According to Hebdige, “the media, as Stuart Hall has argued, not only record resistance, they ‘situate it within the dominant framework of meanings’ and those young people who choose to inhabit a spectacular youth culture are simultaneously returned, as they are represented on TV and in the newspapers, to the place where common sense would have them fit.” This alludes to the idea that there probably was a group of Qatari girls who did wear spikes in the beginning - for a purpose other than to be cool and fashionable and were probably trying to express their allegiance to a goth or metal subculture.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Subculture? Not a Subculture?

What happened to the Bedouin’s identity? And what happened to the Hadar (urban) identity? In the past, Bedouins had different norms than the Hadar. They had different dialects. Some Bedouin still use these dialects today. For example, some of the people from Al-Hajri family end their words with “tess” when they are addressing a female. Bedouins had a different lifestyle and different tools that they used. In addition to poetry, they use the rababa, which is a musical instrument that looks like a violin. However, the rababa has only one string. While the Hadar were involved with trading and jobs related to pearl diving, the Bedouins were practicing different jobs and activities. These activities included falconry and taking care of their livestock. On one hand, the livestock represent their capital (Ras almal). On the other hand, the Hadar’s capital included ships and pearls. Because Qatar is a peninsula, the norm was to be part of the Hadar and live by the sea. The fact that the Bedouins had their own dialect, music, style and activities made them stand out as a spectacular subculture. Subcultures are groups of people who vary and differ from the mainstream in language, style, music and activities. It is a spectacular subculture because their practices are not hidden. Bedouins’ practice of poetry and falconry are activities that we can see. The spectacular subcultures are out of the ordinary, so they attract our attention as the Bedouins do with their practices.

In the article Where Have The Bedouin Gone?, Donald Cole states, “I argue for seeing Bedouin as ordinary, everyday people.” In addition to that, the Bedouin identity blendes with the mainstream Hadar identity and vice versa. Some Bedouin have moved from tents to houses. A few of them live urban lifestyles while still practicing some of their Bedouin activities, such as falconry and poetry. Some of them speak like urban people. Some might argue that Bedouin’s identity is presented in their heritage and ancestry, but it is focused on ancestry more than heritage in Qatar. Currently, Bedouins still keep their livestock (capital). However, they hire shepherds to take care of them. Such practice is not associated with Bedouins only.
I visited a farm in which people hired shepherds to take care of their livestock. There was a tent made of goat hair. However, the tent had glass windows and a door. Inside the tent, there is a television and two air conditionors. There were chairs around the tent. The chairs looked modern, but were covered with old fabric. There was a rebaba on the side of it as a decoration. Outside the tent, there were camels, goats and parrots. The style of the chairs and the weird combination of livestock and parrots, reflect how modern life has affected the identity.

(Pictures I took at the farm)

After describing the place, it gives the feeling that this is a Bedouin farm. However, it is not. The farm belongs to a Hadar family. The Bedouins are no longer a subculture because their identity has merged with the Hadar identity to produce a national identity. Bedouin no longer dominate falconry, poetry and taking care of livestock.
When a subculture’s identity is becoming mainstream, it usually happens through two forms: Commodity and ideological. The commodity form draws the relation between the subculture and the other industries. Having a farm, livestock, and purchasing old tools became a commodity. There are many shops around Doha that are specialized in putting tents and selling falconry tools. Because these things can be sold, they became mainstream. The farm I visited was in an area of more than 50 farms owned by Bedouin and Hadar. The government owns the area, but it has rented it to people. Those who do not own a certain number of goats or sheep do not have the right to rent. As a result of the government’s encouragement for people to purchase land and livestock, the practices that were associated with Bedouin are parts of the Hadar identity too. There for, the ideology of how Bedouin were looked at as being Bedouin has changed. The ideological form deals with how the presentation of a subculture in the media change the way people perceive the subculture. During Qatar national day, the national television plays footage of camels and people doing Bedouin practices. This portrayal allows the Hadar to be more familiar with such practices, so they are more likely to accept them. This proves how the culture is not constant, but changeable. What was supposed to be a Bedouin thing or a Hadar thing is now just considered a Qatari thing.

Living in Qatar and seeing how many Hadar act Bedouin on some occasions, while Bedouin act like Hadar on other occasions, led me to this assessment. Although I’m part of the Hadar, I have cousins who practice falconry and hangout with Bedouin. This doesn’t make them Bedouins, but makes the Bedouin practices mainstream and not subcultural. The fact that Bedouin are not a subculture might be general to most of the Bedouin. However, there might be some extreme cases where Bedouin are more attached to their Bedouin identities.

(Picture from the archive of my cousin's falcon)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Is Bedouin heritage still engraved in Qatari Badu?

Qatar embracing Pearl diving heritage by the Dhow

Donald P. Cole defines Bedouins, in his article entitled “Where have the Bedouin Gone?” as “nomads and essentialized as representatives of segmentary lineage organization and tribalism.”

 Over 50 years ago, Qatar wasn’t what it is today. It was composed of tribes of Bedouins that traveled all around Qatar. They all lived off their farms, fishing, and pearl diving, which they would sell at a market. The order of the family was pretty similar to other Bedouins in the Arab world. In other words, the men would lead the household go to the market and sell their produce, while the women would take care of the house, clean and cook.
As Qatar evolved so did the Bedouins. The tribes started settling down in different areas of Qatar and Doha. For example; one area next to Qatar Foundation is called Al – Hawajer, because most of the family of Al-Hajri live there. A lot of areas in Qatar are named after certain families that have existed for generations and have helped the country become what it is today.
There are various similarities amongst Bedouins all over the Arab world; they all have a different dialect of Arabic, some families even have different dialects amongst each other, and from the rest of Qatari citizens. We can notice today who are the descendants of Bedouins by the way they pronounce certain words, such as “Shloonish,” which is the way the non Bedouin Qataris would say; “how are you?” The Bedouins pronounce it “Shloonik” or “Shloonis” depending on the families. Their clothing, and also Bedouin marriages are still very strict, in the sense that the groom can’t see the bride until the wedding night, even if they are married on paper, they can only see her after the ceremony, which are gender separated. Also they marry into the family, usually cousins.
When it comes to schools, most Bedouins families have their children go to non-mix gendered education institutions, especially young girls.
Although, youth Bedouins aren’t like they used to be before, they still embrace their heritage; for example, 4 years ago in ABP there was a poetry contest among youth. There were a lot of male young Bedouins having poetry “battles.” Today’s youth Bedouins are literate and get an education to take on their family businesses which have existed for generations, for instance families that had a farm that grow their own produce, opened “Jam3iayas,” which are small chains of food stores.

 You would think that the old style of living of Bedouins extinct, but not really, most Bedouin families still have their farms, but not the whole family dedicates it’s life to it. The farms are usually located along side the highways from Doha to other parts of Qatar such as Fuairit and Zikreet. While I was picking a friend up from his house, located next to QF, I came along this tiny “farm” that had sheep. 
It was shocking to see that some families still have farms within the urban city.

Pictures I took in a neighborhood by QF
In short, despite the fact that Qatar evolved, along with its citizens (Bedouins and other Qatari citizens,) Bedouin heritage is still engraved in Qatar’s culture. Simple examples where that heritage is embraced; Souq Waqif, the dhow port (traditional Qatari boats, used to be fishing boats,) when you go to sealine there are a lot of tents by the sea, which belong to certain families. They usually go there during weekends for a family getaway. QIT, a tourism agency, have regular trips to the desert for tourists, expats, and for anyone who is willing to experience staying in a “Kheima” (tents), where they can enjoy the beach, the traditional food, the camel rides and the cold night bonfires.
Bedouin tents today.

What makes Bedouins in Qatar a subculture are, their different dialects, their different ideologies of marriage and education, their way of living, their traditional wear and their strong religious beliefs.

Traditional Badu women wear.
I believe that Bedouins became part of a subculture quite recently. It wasn’t before urbanization, that they became a minority. As most of Bedouins families moved to the city and started living amongst civilization. However, not all of them abandoned that past. Some Bedouins families still embrace their rich heritage and can be considered as part of a subculture.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hipsters i.e. the new punks

Hipsters started out, as having a “unique” sense of style that made them stand out, but lately seeing hipster-related fashion has become the norm in our everyday lives. We see the thick-framed ray ban eyeglasses, dip-dyed hair, studded clothes and galaxy printed clothes everywhere lately, thanks to the media.
Hipsters incorporated some elements of hippies and punks into their style, such as the long hair and studded shorts. This process of mixing styles and ideas together is known as bricolage. The subcultures bricoleur is typically the author of a surrealist collage and usually juxtaposes two incompatible realities, such as the mixing of spikes and jeans.
Hipsters were initially seen as a spectacular subculture since their style of life was seen as deviant and opposing to the dominant culture. Having different colors at the top and bottom of your hair used to be seen as a hair dye job gone wrong but these days it has been labeled as the must have hairstyle. Ombre and dip-dyed hair can be seen everywhere from tumblr to fashion magazines and celebrities. Ombre hair is less daring, as it appears to be a bit more natural than dip dying. Dip dying has gone to new extremes as people try their best to “make it their own”.
Ripped jeans are back in fashion, except now its jean shorts with spiky studs on the sides. Ripped t-shirts have also become the new fad and there are numerous videos on YouTube to show you how to rip your T-shirt in different ways. Nail polish has also become part of this hipster subculture and there are numerous creative styles that keep emerging.
Subcultures are concerned with consumption, as it through their commodities that they communicate the meanings attached to these commodities. When their purpose and style is normalized and becomes mainstream, their purpose is ruined. It is through the process of recuperation that the straying away from the dominant culture is somewhat repaired and the subculture is incorporated in the dominant culture.
There are two characteristic forms in the process of recuperation: The commodity form and the ideological form. The commodity form is the conversion of subcultural signs, such as clothes, music, into mass-produced objects. Corporations, clothing companies, benefit from this by incorporating these new styles into their market and gaining profit. The ideological form is the labeling and redefining of deviant behavior by dominant groups, such as the media. After the media normalized the concept of dip-dyed hair and socially constructed people into thinking it is fashionable, parents are more understanding to the idea, and there are more people doing it.