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Hashish and the 'Carnivalesque' in Egyptian Cinema

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This paper focuses on the ever-growing popularity of scenes depicting and referring to hashish and marijuana use in Egyptian cinema. It argues that a shift in attitude and in the overall depiction of these substances has emerged in more recent films, those produced in the 1990s and after. It suggests that whereas in older cinema these substances were always associated with social and political ills, almost all negative connotations and associations have disappeared in favor of an acceptable and playful depiction. Drawing on the theoretical framework of the carnivalesque developed by Bakhtin, and the work of other scholars such as Gilles Deleuze and Walter Benjamin, this paper suggests that the depictions of smoking hashish and marijuana are subversive moments that ultimately aim at escaping rigid social structures and power hierarchies while providing commentaries on repressive social and political realities.


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