Layla Murad, the Jewish-Muslim Star of Egypt

Professor Hammad discusses the life and legacy of Layla Murad, one of the most beloved and remembered Arab singing stars in the twentieth century, to analyze politics of sexuality, ethnicity, socio-cultural interaction between Muslims and Jews, and the crucial role popular culture played in constructing an exclusive Arab-Islamic Egyptian identity. Born into a Jewish family in 1918 and converting to Islam in the late 1940s, Layla Murad provides an excellent example to showcase that Jews of Egypt and the Arab East broadly lived within a web of emotional, social, and institutional relations thus with multiple and fluid identities, rather than a narrow religious identity.

Hanan Hammad is a Professor of History and Director of Middle East Studies at Texas Christian University. She received book awards from the National Women’s Studies Association, Association of Middle East Women’s Studies, and the Middle East Political Economy Project among others.

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