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Migrant rap in the periphery

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Performing politics of belonging

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Abstract

Focusing on a YouTube performance by an emergent Finnish Somali rapper and the audience responses it has generated, this paper looks at ways in which rap music engages with the issue of belonging. Drawing on recent theorizations of belonging as a multi-dimensional, contingent and fluid process, along with sociolinguistic work on globalization and superdiversity, Finnish hip hop culture and popular cultural practices in social media, the paper investigates how belonging is performatively and multi-semiotically interrogated in its online context. It shows how rap can serve as a significant site and channel for new voices in turbulent social settings characterized by rapid social change and complex diversity, as well as provide affordances for critical responses to and interventions into xenophobic and nationalist debates and discourses of belonging.

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