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"Secrets" and "Closed Off Areas": The Concept of Tarab or "Enchantment" in Arab Popular Culture

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This article seeks to unravel how defining the concept of tarab or "enchantment,, in Arab popular culture is fraught with ambivalence by those who attempt to do so. I argue that the description of this concept as a "secret,, or "closed off area,, may in fact strategically act as a deterrent to fixing the definition of an aesthetic that is specific to the appreciation of artistic accomplishment in Arab culture. The subsequent discussion on Edward Said, Vikram Seth and Naguib's Mahfouz's invocation of tarab in their work shows to what extent this remains a concept that is central to any discussion of music and cultural icons and is a concept through which virtuosity is, often subjectively, measured.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2007


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