chapter  12
13 Pages

Sentimental gesture and the politics of ‘shape’ in the performances of Abd al-Halim Hafiz

WithMartin Stokes

This chapter offers, as a case study that seeks to mediate between these extremes, the sentimental gestural world of Abd al-Halim Hafiz. Abd al-Halim Hafiz was a crooner whose singing career was deeply implicated in Nasser’s revolution in Egypt (1952) – a revolution that was modernising, non-aligned, secular. A few quick observations might be made about Abd al-Halim’s gestures to set the scene. Firstly, they had a viral quality, mimicked and reproduced across various media. Secondly, they were reflexive and self-aware. The more he gestured, the more he was represented gesturing; the more he was represented gesturing, the more it seemed he gestured. Thirdly, they were entangled with the media system’s dispositif. The organisation of the Abd al-Halim Hafiz Qariat al-Finjan performances could be approached rather separately from the point of view of the music or the text.