Erasing and Reviving the Oriental: Dalida in France

Tuesday 6 May 2014, 5pm


Middle Eastern Studies research seminar, University of Manchester,                       Samuel Alexander A102

Dr Barbara Lebrun (French Studies, University of Manchester)

Erasing and Reviving the Oriental:

Dalida in France


The Cairo-born singer Dalida (1933-1987) had her career engineered in Paris from 1955 onwards and became, in France, the best-selling female artist of the 20th century. This commercial success was partly based on the construction of her star image as ‘exotic’ (through lyrics, music, performance), and this paper presents the contradictory ways in which she offered a sense of ethnic ‘difference’ in the French popular music industry. Specifically looking at the erasure of her more ‘Oriental’ features in the 1950s, during decolonisation, and the revival of her Egyptianness in the 1970s-80s, when the Middle Eastern market for cassettes boomed, it examines the uses and significations of ‘Oriental’ identities in France’s popular music culture.

Dr Lebrun is a French popular music specialist, the author of Protest Music in France (Ashgate, 2009) and editor of Chanson et Performance (L’Harmattan, 2012). She is currently working on a project on Dalida and the production and reception of ‘mainstream’ popular music.

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