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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.19
Hip hop and refugees in Poznań, Poland
A hip hop band in Poznań that unites Muslim performers with Yemeni background and autochthonous Polish youth, builds grassroots solidarities. NGOs, youth groups, social workers, an imam, and state authorities all play a role in countering Islamophobic stereotypes by supporting this activity, each in their own way. Three brothers with a Polish mother and a Yemeni father came to Poland as refugees from the civil war in Yemen. Residents of Poznań, they are regular attendees at the local Islamic Centre. The director of a reformatory school for juvenile delinquents invited the brothers to perform at the school and to teach residents to rap. Some of the residents have since joined the three brothers in an expanded hip hop band. Because of the brothers’ sharply anti-racist and politically progressive lyrics, the audience includes some of the town’s anarchists and other radical activists, but more “moderate” mainstream youth are also regularly present. Participant observation and structured interviews reveal that attitudes to Muslims and migrants have been positively affected by people’s exposure to the band. Yet in some cases Islamophobic attitudes persist, and simply see the “Yemeni” brothers as an exemption. We consider the activities of the band and their interlocutors as a set of small-scale, local moral practices by various actors whose interests do not always coincide. We also look at the higher-scale political, economic, and cultural contexts that can work in the opposite direction. Of these, the influence of right-wing, nationalist rap on some Polish youth is particularly relevant.