In Conversation with Widad Mjama aka Queen T and Cristina Moreno-Almeida
Date & Location
Dec 07, 2022, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
Queen Mary, University of London and Online via Zoom
About the Event
Widad Mjama is known in Morocco as the first female rapper of the country. the rap group Thug Gang. Daughter of an Arabic teacher and with a mother in the military, she joined the group Thug Gang and together they won the third edition of L’Boulvard (Festival du Boulevard des Jeunes Musiciens) in 2001, what soon became one of the most prestigious music festivals in the country. By the time rap became omnipresent in the Moroccan music scene in the mid-2000s, Widad and Walid, another member of Thug Gang, left Morocco to continue their studies in France. In France, she now leads together with Walid the extremely successful electro-Hip-Hop band N3erdistan. This conversation intends to draw a herstory of Moroccan Hip Hop through the eyes of Widad.
This is a collaborative event held as part of the workshop series ‘Sounding Memories in the Middle East and North Africa’ hosted at Queen Mary, University of London. See below for more information on the workshop and visit the event website. The interview will be streamed live from London via zoom. The rest of the workshop will be in-person only.
If you want to attend the interview online, please click on the RSVP link above to register and receive the Zoom details.
If you want to attend in person, then please contact Rebekah Vince at email@example.com.
Widad Mjama’s Biography
Morocco’s first female rapper, laureate of the Casablanca Conservatory in classical dance and dramatic art, Widad began her career in the underground scene in Morocco together with great local figures of Hip Hop culture. Alongside her higher education in France, she immersed herself in African percussion and the mystical universe of West African griots. With a master’s degree in project engineering and a working towards the integration of gender studies in public policies within German cooperation, in 2014 she founded N3rdistan with Walid Ben Selim. Together, they have traveled the world and shared their universe and their love for poetry. Passionate for words, she has been invited to several literary events around poetry and women such as Read My World and unlimited writers, where Widad brings life back to an ancestral oral tradition. “Aita mon amour” is the name of his new creation in collaboration with Khalil Epi. This project reinterprets classics of the Moroccan oral art of Aita, which means cry or lament, through the prism of electronic music. Widad’s overall artistic purpose is to use the stage as a field to change ways of thinking in the very masculine environment that is music.
Cristina Moreno-Almeida Biography
Dr. Cristina Moreno-Almeida is a Lecturer in Digital Culture and Arabic Cultural Studies at Queen Mary University of London and Fellow at the Queen Mary Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Her work looks at popular digital cultures and cultural production at the intersection of aesthetics, politics, and media with a particular interest in North Africa and the Middle East. Her first book Rap Beyond Resistance: Staging Power in Contemporary Morocco (Palgrave, 2017) challenges dominant narratives of cultural resistance when it comes to Hip Hop culture in the Arabic-speaking world. Her second book Memes, Monsters, and the Digital Grotesque (forthcoming with Oxford University Press) investigates the role of memes and other forms of digital cultural production in employing grotesque aesthetics to speak about contemporary monsters and politics online.
Memory in the Middle East and North Africa: Sounding Memories across the Mediterranean
Memory and music both cross borders across the Mediterranean, resonating with tradition, revolution, and transmission. This workshop will bring together perspectives from cultural studies and ethnomusicology to discuss the representation of the past through musical encounters across the Mediterranean. Through an analysis of contemporary rap, transnational dissemination, Jewish-Muslim musical collaboration, and the revival of Nahda music, we will explore the role of music in re-membering the past in Morocco, Algeria, and Lebanon.
The workshop is in partnership with the ERC-funded research project ‘Past and Present Musical Encounters Across the Strait of Gibraltar’ (directed by Dr Matthew Machin-Autenrieth) and the interview with … is part of their online series ‘Sonic Conversations in the Western Mediterranean’.
Speakers include: Dr Cristina Moreno Almeida (QMUL), Dr Stephen Wilford(University of Cambridge), Dr Maria Rijo Lopes Da Cunha (University of Copenhagen), Dr Vanessa Paloma Elbaz (University of Cambridge).
The workshop series on ‘Memory in the Middle East and North Africa’ focuses on archetypal sites of memory production – archives, museums, narratives, and music – to examine how memory is mobilised and contested across the Middle East and North Africa today. The workshops bring together academics in history, comparative literature, modern languages, and ethnomusicology alongside archivists, curators, writers, translators, and musicians to explore questions of preservation, curation, representation, and transmission.
Co-organised by Dr Hannah Scott Deuchar (Comparative Literature), Dr Afef Mbarek (History), and Dr Rebekah Vince (Modern Languages), and supported by funding from the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Queen Mary University of London.