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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines Coptic Orthodox music culture through a gendered lens. Specifically, it investigates how the repatriation of Coptic music transcriptions has facilitated women’s song activism in male-dominated contexts. Yet, as women increasingly sound their presence in the Coptic church, they are often complicit in some of the Church’s moral narratives in containing women’s bodies, voices, and comportment in the Orthodox community. While the use of Coptic music transcriptions impart expertise status to the women who use them, this chapter argues that transcription’s colonialist genealogies and accompanying discourses of modernity also reinscribe Coptic gender hierarchies within a specific ethnoreligious nationalism that closely mirrors that of the Egyptian state. In the end, the case study of Monika Kyrillos, one of the most popular Coptic singers in Egypt, illustrates how her performances both subscribe to and also challenge Orthodox gender subjectivities through her music activism.

Keywords: Egypt, Coptic Orthodox Christian, women, liturgical hymn, song activism, repatriation, ethnoreligious nationalism

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