Writing on Kingdom Walls: Practices, Narratives and visual politics of graffiti and street art in Jordan and Morocco


Soufiane’s focus is a comparative study on cultural practices and narratives related to art production and its entanglement with resistance and visual politics in North Africa and the Middle East. By working on Morocco and Jordan, he mainly focuses on wall-writings, street art, and graffiti in order to understand what wall expressions do, the extent to which they have a particularly political place in society, and how they relate to socio-political transformations.

Bio statement:

Soufiane Chinig is a first-year PhD student of anthropology in the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität Berlin. His research in anthropology is on writing and painting on walls in Morocco and Jordan. He also holds an MA in Sociology and Anthropology from Hassan II University in Mohammedia, and a BA in Sociology from Mohammed V University. Alongside his academic work, he is also active in promoting Moroccan cultural heritage and evaluating urban policies in that country.


ABENANTE, P., & CANTINI, D. (2014). Introduction. Life-worlds and religious commitment: Ethnographic perspectives on subjectivity and Islam. La Ricerca Folklorica, No. 69, 18.

Abu-’l-Faraǧ al-Iṣfahānī, ʿAlī Ibn-al-Ḥusain. (2000). The Book of strangers: Mediaeval Arabic graffiti on the theme of nostalgia. Wiener.

Abu-Lughod, L. (1990). The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power Through Bedouin Women. American Ethnologist, 17(1), 41–55. JSTOR. https://www.jstor.org/stable/645251

Bayat, A. (2002). Activism and Social Development in the Middle East. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 34(1), 1–28.http://www.jstor.org/stable/3880166

Bayat, A. (Ed.). (2010). Life as politics. Amsterdam University Press. https://doi.org/10.5117/9789053567104

Bayat, A. (2017). Revolution without revolutionaries: Making sense of the Arab Spring. Stanford University Press.

Becker, C. (2016). Visual Culture and the Amazigh Renaissance in North Africa and its diaspora. In Islam and popular culture (pp. 102–120). University of Texas Press.

Becker, C. J. (2009). Art, self-censorship, and public discourse: Contemporary Moroccan artists at the crossroads. Contemporary Islam, 3(2), 143–166. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11562-009-0085-z

Belarbi, S. (2019). Les graffiti comme rhétorique de contestation. Le hirak du Rif. p.113-130. https://insaniyat.crasc.dz/index.php/fr/archives/88-85-86-2019/2136-les-graffiti-comme-rh%C3%A9torique-de-contestation-le-hirak-du-rif

Bourdieu, P. (1977). Sur le pouvoir symbolique. Annales, 32(3), 405–411. https://doi.org/10.3406/ahess.1977.293828

Bourdieu, P. (1980). Le sens pratique. Éditions de Minuit.

Bseiso, R. A. R. (2017). Revolutionary Art or “Revolutonizing Art”? Making Art on the Streets of Cairo. Arab Media & Society, Issue 23, Winter/Spring.https://www.arabmediasociety.com/revolutionary-art-or-revolutonizing-art-making-art-on-the-streets-of-cairo/

Clément, J.-F. (1993). L’image dans le monde Arabe: : INTERDIT ET POSSffiILITÉS. Annuaire de l’Afrique Du Nord., Tome XXXII(CNRS Editions).

Clifford, J. (2021). The Predicament of Culture. In The Predicament of Culture. Harvard University Press. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.4159/9780674503724/html

Clifford, J., & Marcus, G. E. (Eds.). (1986). Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, 25th Anniversary Edition (2nd ed.). ‎ University of California Press.

DeTurk, S. (2015). The “Banksy Effect” and Street Art in the Middle East. Street Art and Urban Creativity Scientific Journal. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324313999_The_Banksy_effect_and_street_art_in_the_Middle_East

DeTurk, S. (2019). Street Art in the Middle East. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781788317238

Dilworth, G. (2017). Jabal al-weibdeh: A counter-memory of Amman a case study in the resistance of memory. Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. https://digitalcollections.sit.edu/isp_collection/2666

Eickelman, D. F. (1976). Moroccan Islam: Tradition and Society in a Pilgrimage Center. University of Texas Press.

El Ayadi, M., Rachik, H., & Tozy, M. (2007). L’islam au quotidien: Enquête sur les valeurs et les pratiques religieuses au Maroc. Éd. Prologues.

Elansary, H. (2014). Revolutionary Street Art: Complicating the Discourse. Jadaliyya, 7.

Fabian, J. (1998). Moments of Freedom: Anthropology and Popular Culture. University Press of Virginia. https://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/2101

FERRELL, J. (1995). Urban Graffiti: Crime, Control, and Resistance. Youth & Society, 27(1), 73–92. https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X95027001005

Foucault, M. (1982). The Subject and Power. Critical Inquiry, 8(4), 777–795. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1343197

Hannerz, U. (2003). Being there. . . And there. . . And there! Reflections on multi-site ethnography. Ethnography, 4(2), 201–216.

Heinsohn, B. (2015). Critical Voices from the Underground: Street Art and Urban Transformation in Berlin. In J. E. Twark & A. Hildebrandt (Eds.), Envisioning Social Justice in Contemporary German Culture (NED-New edition, pp. 119–142). Boydell & Brewer; JSTOR. https://doi.org/10.7722/j.ctt16173h9.9

Imbert, F. (2019). Espaces de liberté et contraintes graphiques dans les graffiti du début de l’islam. In C. Pinon (Ed.), Savants, amants, poètes et fous: Séances offertes à Katia Zakharia (pp. 161–174). Presses de l’Ifpo. http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/13413

Johnson, N. (2017). The Writing on the Walls: Street art as a site of participation in discourse and a platform for voice in the Moroccan public sphere. Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. https://digitalcollections.sit.edu/isp_collection/2630

Laroui, A. (1977). Les origines sociales et culturelles du nationalisme marocain: (1830—1912). Maspero.

Latour, B. (2002). WHAT IS ICONOCLASH? OR IS THERE A WORLD BEYOND THE IMAGE WARS? In Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art (p. 26). MIT Press.

Lukens-Bull, R. A. (1999). Between Text and Practice: Considerations in the Anthropological Study of Islam. 4(2), 21.

MacGillivray, L., & Curwen, M. S. (2007). Tagging as a Social Literacy Practice. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(5), 354–369.https://www.jstor.org/stable/40015478

Mcauliffe, C. (2012). Graffiti or Street Art? Negotiating the Moral Geographies of the Creative City. Journal of Urban Affairs, 34(2), 189–206.https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9906.2012.00610.x

McAuliffe, C. (2015). Young People and The Spatial Politics of Graffiti Writing. In N. Worth, C. Dwyer, & T. Skelton (Eds.), Identities and Subjectivities (pp. 1–23). Springer Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-4585-91-0_15-1

Medina, J. (2011). Toward a Foucaultian Epistemology of Resistance: Counter-Memory, Epistemic Friction, and Guerrilla Pluralism. Foucault Studies, 9–35. https://doi.org/10.22439/fs.v0i12.3335

Nicoarea, G. (2012). Cultural Interactions in The Graffiti Subculture of The Arab World. Between Globalization and Cosmopolitanism.https://www.academia.edu/2219214/Cultural_Interactions_in_The_Graffiti_Subculture_of_The_Arab_World_Between_Globalization_and_Cosmopolitanism

Oinas, E., Onodera, H., & Suurpää, L. (Eds.). (2017). What Politics? – Youth and Political Engagement in Africa | Brill (Vol. 06). Brill.

Ortner, S. B. (1995). Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 37(1), 173–193.https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417500019587

Ortner, S. B. (2005). Subjectivity and cultural critique. Anthropological Theory, 5(1), 31–52. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463499605050867

Powers, L. A. (1996). Whatever Happened to the Graffiti Art Movement? The Journal of Popular Culture, 29(4), 137–142. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-3840.1996.137454.x

Reisner, R. (1971). GRAFFITI TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF WALL WRITING. Cowles Book Co. https://www.abebooks.com/first-edition/GRAFFITI-TWO-THOUSAND-YEARS-WALL-WRITING/602872808/bd

Rogan, E. L. (1986). Physical Islamization in Amman. The Muslim World, 76(1), 24–42. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1478-1913.1986.tb02768.x

Ross, J. I., Bengtsen, P., Lennon, J. F., Phillips, S., & Wilson, J. Z. (2017). In search of academic legitimacy: The current state of scholarship on graffiti and street art. The Social Science Journal, 54(4), 411–419. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soscij.2017.08.004

Salois, K. (2016). Fleas in the Sheepskin: Glocalization and Cosmopolitanism in Moroccan Hip-Hop. In K. van Nieuwkerk, M. LeVine, & M. Stokes (Eds.), Islam and Popular Culture. University of Texas Press.

Schacter, R. (2008). An Ethnography of Iconoclash: An Investigation into the Production, Consumption and Destruction of Street-art in London. Journal of Material Culture, 13(1), 35–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359183507086217

Schielke, S. (2010). Second thoughts about the anthropology of Islam, or how to make sense of grand schemes in everyday life. 2.

Schielke, S. (2016). Can poetry change the world? Reading Amal Dunqul in Egypt in 2011. In K. van Nieuwkerk, M. LeVine, & M. Stokes (Eds.), Islam and popular culture. University of Texas Press.

Schielke, S. (2018). A City of Walls. A Photo Essay on Writing on Walls in Alexandria, 2011-2017. Égypte/Monde Arabe, 17, 157–191. https://doi.org/10.4000/ema.3858

Schielke, S., & Winegar, J. (2012). The Writing on the Walls of Egypt. MIDDLE EAST REPORT, 5.

Schindler, L., & Schäfer, H. (2021). Practices of Writing in Ethnographic Work. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 50(1), 11–32.https://doi.org/10.1177/0891241620923396

Smith, N. R. (2020). Spatial Poetics Under Authoritarianism: Graffiti and the Contestation of Urban Redevelopment in Contemporary China. Antipode, 52(2), 581–601. https://doi.org/10.1111/anti.12607

ter Laan, N. (2016). “Islam is There to Make People Free”: Islamist Musical Narratives of Freedom and Democracy in the Moroccan Spring. In K. van Nieuwkerk, M. LeVine, & M. Stokes (Eds.), Islam and Popular Culture. University of Texas Press.

Tsilimpounidi, M. (2015). “If These Walls Could Talk”: Street Art and Urban Belonging in the Athens of Crisis. Laboratorium, 7(2), 18–35.

van Nieuwkerk, K., LeVine, M., & Stokes, M. (Eds.). (2016). Islam and Popular Culture. University of Texas Press.Winegar, J. (2006). Creative Reckonings: The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt. Stanford University Press.