Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The 1001 Nights Podcast

The 1001 Nights Podcast is a collaborative online storytelling website featuring 25 retellings of Nights-related stories. They seemed to stop making new ones in 2015 but you can still listen to all of the old podcasts here  -

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

(De) Toppers - 1001 Nights

This is the Orientalist-out-of-control introduction to a (De) Toppers concert in 2013.

The song they intro with, "1001 Nights," was originally done by Dutch pop band Ch!pz as "1001 Arabian Nights."


If you'd like more, here they are in 1001 Nights' shirts dancing around Turkey, singing a version of Marc Anthony's song "Vivir Mi Vida" - 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Live-Action Aladdin Casting Controversy

Disney's live action version of its animated 1992 Aladdin is currently in production. Recently, the company announced who would be playing the various parts and it has provoked some controversy. In 1992 groups in the US and elsewhere pressured Disney to change the animated film because of its lyrics and portrayals of the "East" and some parts of the movie and its lyrics were changed after its initial release. 

That did little to erase what many saw as Disney's continued misrepresentation of race and culture. 

This Fortune.com opinion piece by Germine Awad aptly highlights some of the critical viewpoints that have been levied against the upcoming live-action version:

How Disney Blew a Huge Opportunity While Casting Aladdin - http://fortune.com/2017/07/21/disney-aladdin-cast-naomi-scott/

"With the recent backlash in Hollywood surrounding the casting of white actors to play characters of color, Disney went to great lengths to mount a large-scale, worldwide search to find culturally appropriate actors for the live-action reboot of Aladdin. Reportedly, more than 2,000 actors read for the parts of Jasmine and Aladdin. The process resulted in Mena Massoud, a Canadian Egyptian, being cast as Aladdin; and Naomi Scott, a woman of British and Indian heritage, landing the role of Jasmine. The casting call included a search for actors of both Middle Eastern and Indian descent, presumably to widen the net of potential actors that could realistically depict Middle Easterners.


The backlash against Disney for choosing Naomi Scott, a woman not of Middle Eastern descent, to depict Jasmine is partially a response to the notion that individuals of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent are interchangeable. This is not the first time that South Asians and Middle Easterners have been mistaken for one another. Shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, a Sikh man was murdered in a hate crime aimed at someone of Middle Eastern descent. Individuals of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent both experienced a rise in hate crimes post -9/11.

There is a psychological concept that explains this phenomenon called the outgroup homogeneity effect, where majority group members see the uniqueness and individuality within their own group, but see minority group members as homogeneous. In other words, the majority views the minority as all being the same.

In a climate that includes Muslim bans and general anti-immigration rhetoric, children of Middle Eastern descent are constantly bombarded with negative messages about Middle Easterners. Author and lecturer Jack Shaheen documented the longstanding negative media portrayals of Arabs in films and television. He noted that Arab characters tend to be terrorists; passive, oppressed women; rich oil sheiks; or brutes."

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Arabian Nights in the English Popular Press and the Heterogenization of Nationhood

Rasoul Aliakbari's new article "The Arabian Nights in the English Popular Press and the Heterogenization of Nationhood: A Print Cultural Approach to Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities" explores nation-building via Anderson, Edward William Lane, the popular press and The 1001 Nights.

It's a great read and fills some much-needed gaps in terms of popular renditions of the Nights and their relationship with understandings of nation.

If you have academic access you can read it here at Canadian Review of Comparative Literature -


Rasoul Aliakbari is a graduate student at The University of Alberta in Comparative Literature.

I've pasted the abstract/overview below -

I. Aims and Scope

This article investigates the popular print culture of the Arabian Nights1 in nineteenth-century England in order to challenge Benedict Anderson’s standpoints on modern nation-building in his now-classic Imagined Communities. There is a growing body of research on the Nights, its sources, its literary character, its cultural significance, its translations, its adaptations, and its continuing popularity in contemporary cultures throughout the world. Ulrich Marzolph’s website provides an extensive list of representative scholarship on various aspects of the Nights in its various pre-modern, modern, and contemporary contexts (The Arabian Nights Bibliography). However, reviewing the literature of the Nights on his website and elsewhere, one notices a relative lack of scholarship on the uses of print editions of the Nights to converse with theories of print capitalism and modern nation-building. Responding to this lacuna, this article mainly aims to investigate publications of the Nights for lower-class readers in nineteenth-century England, in order to offer a heterogenized picture of the formation of modern English nationhood.2 In particular, I will explore the print circumstances of Edward Lane’s translation of the Nights as well as some reproductions of, and responses to, the Nights in nineteenth-century British cheap popular periodicals, to develop a critical dialogue with Anderson.3 This dialogue includes revisiting, challenging, and complicating some dimensions of Anderson’s discourses on print capitalism, the formation of the modern nation as an imagined community, and official nationalism. By examining the uses of the Nights for and among British lower classes and the expanding bourgeois readership of the time, I will demonstrate that, unlike Anderson’s conception of nationhood as homogeneous, steady, and solid, the formation of modern English nationhood is heterogeneous, porous, borderly, and conditioned at the intersection of social classes and the oriental literariness of the Nights. In other words, rather than arguing for the impact of the Nights on European literary modernity or nation-building, this essay seeks to demonstrate some of the uses of this tale collection in the English enterprise of nation-building, including the dissemination of ‘wholesome’ reading matter and the establishment of British sovereignty over lower-class and mass readership in England during the nineteenth century.