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Tunisia's street artist

Tunisia's street artist | Geography Education |

Following the uprising that toppled the government in 2011, he has become a well known graffiti artist hoping to revive and modernise the ancient art of Arabic calligraphy in Tunisia. He calls his style "calligraffiti".

Seth Dixon's insight:

This short BBC video demonstrated how cultures are dynamic and are built on past traditions to confront modern circumstances.  Cultures are performed both as resistance to and wider social influences and as a mechanism to adapt to those forces.  The street art of Karim Jabbari is an excellent example of the cultural patterns and processes by blending ancient North African calligraphy with modern Western street art to create an entirely new form of cultural expression.  This cultural production is still deeply rooted in place, but in not locked away in the past either.  After the Arab Spring, Tunisians were searching for new political identities and the street festivals sponsored in part by this artist are forging new political, cultural and urban expressions.  Watch this video to see him in action, shaping a cultural landscape and strengthening a community.    

Tags: Tunisia, globalization, popular culture, unit 3 culture.

Albert Jordan's curator insight, May 1, 2014 1:58 PM

Considering hip hop is a distinctly American born cultural phenomenon, this goes to show how something that was born of one nations deprived social class can leap to a nation that is very different and still put forth the same message, as well as be used in the same way. Just like in the Bronx when hip hop was just starting off it was used to get people together, in Tunisia it is being used in the same way. Graffiti itself, while seen by many as simple vandalism, can be a powerful symbol of social change. As this artist is doing, using themes from hip hop and taking old Arabic calligraphy, mixing these up and then applying them to the side of a prison which has personal as well as local symbolism - it goes to show that post Arab Spring some places are seeing real change.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 2, 2014 3:19 PM

Following the Arab Spring, Karim Jabbari is hoping to help rebuild and recreate Tunisia through his own form of cultural expression which he calls "calligraffiti".  Calligraffiti is a blend of Western Street art and North African Arabic calligraphy.  This artistic expression works to spread messages pertaining to the recreating of the social and political environment of the country and by attracting and empowering Tunisia's youth in this endeavor.  

Lauren Sellers's curator insight, May 28, 2014 11:24 PM

The video shows how Karim Jabbari, is able to combine folk culture (ancient arabic writing) in with the western graffiti art. He is able to use his art to express political ideals and beliefs

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The Politics of Culture

An NPR team begins a series of reports from North Africa, where last year's revolutions have Tunisia, Libya and Egypt writing new rules for their changing societies.


The Arab Spring has reworked the political landscape in Tunisia; this podcast looks at the cultural changes that have also taken place because of the political shifts.  How are culture and politics interconnected?   

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