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Considering the paradoxical position of al-raqs al-baladi or "belly dance" in Egyptian social life, as both a vibrant and a contested cultural form, this issue of Cairo Papers in Social Science considers the impact of wider socio-cultural and political forces on the marginalization of professional performers, on the one hand, and in defining the parameters for non-professional performances on the other hand. Through interviews with professional and non-professional female dancers in Egypt, it explores the relationship between al-raqs al-baladi and the dynamic cultural repertoire that produces notions of femininity and normative personhood in Egypt. As a dance that Egyptians learn in childhood, it exposes the cardinal relationship between culture and body movement. The study received the Magda al-Nowaihi Award for best graduate work on gender studies in 2010. Cairo Papers in Social Science 32/3
Noha Roushdy holds an MA in anthropology from the American University in Cairo. She is currently involved in research and advocacy on issues of gender and sexuality with local NGOs in Egypt.