Discussing the analysis of media production in Syria: musalsalat and news websites

Thanks to the interest and the kind invitation of Yves Gonzalez-Quijano on the 26th of January the French Institute of Damascus IFPO is hosting the seminar “Discussing the analysis of media production in Syria: TV drama and news websites“.

I am going to present my PHD research on Syrian musalsalat with a particular focus on the methodological aspect of doing media studies in Syria. My Italian colleague Enrico de Angelis is studying Syrian news websites with respect to their links to a broader Internet culture and the challenges they present to traditional news-making in Syria. Our talks start at 6pm and are going to be in English (no translation).

On the same day, but starting at 2.30 till 5 pm, IFPO will host an interesting round table with Syrian journalists from news websites (in Arabic only).

Speakers are: Nabil Saleh (Al Jamal), Mohamed Abdel Rahim (Sham News), Firas Adra (DPress) and Mazen Bilal (Suryia al Ghad). The round table is organized by Enrico De Angelis and moderated by Yves Gonzalez-Quijano.

Re-enchantment of Arab Television

Just a reminder of this conference organized by Ehab Galal, my colleague at Copenhagen University, Denmark. Deadline is on 30 October so hurry up!

CfP:Re-enchantment of Arab Television

Copenhagen University, Denmark

The New Islamic Public Sphere Programme RE-ENCHANTMENT OF ARAB TELEVISION:

Call for conference paper and subsequent book proposals

The New Islamic Public Sphere Programme invites proposals for papers at the Conference on
Re-enchantment of Arab Television: Audience responses and identity constructions
to be held in
Copenhagen, 27 ­ 29 May 2011

The main issue of this conference is how Arab audiences respond to religion and
religious programming on Arab television. A focus on Islamic programming is particularly
requested, but also papers on audience responses to other religious programming are
encouraged. In spite of the common recognition that the effect of media has to be
understood in the encounter between media discourse and audience responses, very often
the Arab television audiences seem to be perceived as a passive, impressionable and
homogenous mass. This raises the need for further and critical reception and audience
analyses taking the heterogeneity and transnationality of the Arab audiences into
account. Thus, the main objective of the conference, and subsequent book proposal, is to
gain new knowledge about the Arab audiences and how they make use of TV in their
construction, negotiation and rejection of religious identities and practices.

The conference objective is to present and discuss qualitative and comparative studies
of Arab television audiences. This approach raises questions related to media and
(religious) identity formation as well as a number of methodological questions of
general interest for media and cultural studies. Concepts like meaning making and
individual identity construction are introduced as key notions in general but three
interrelated analytical approaches are suggested for further exploration. Firstly,
audience identification with religious identity as collective memory constructed through
storytelling. Secondly, audience use of religious programming as an instrument to live
and identify transnationally. And, thirdly, audience interpretation of religious
programming as basis for resistance towards political hegemonies.
These topics will be investigated at three seminar sessions wherein the following
questions might be examined:

•       How does tthe audience integrate the mediatised form of religious storytelling
in its own identity discourse and how does the audience construct collective identity
through media use?
o       Arab/Muslim audience as an analytical and theoretical concept with a focus on
theoretical discussions hereof.
o       Media theory on Arab/Muslim audience responses with a focus on methodological
and analytical questions.
o       Case studies on audience responses using cases related to television.

•       How is the transnationality of the Arrab television practiced and consumed by
the audience and what does this add to the transnational perspective as a theoretical
perspective on religious and cultural identity?
o       The Arab/Muslim Diaspora and its TV media practices.
o       The construction of transnational communities as spatial and/or virtual

•       How do Arabs/Musslims in different societal contexts make use of religious
narratives offered by the Arab television to negotiate, reject, and contest cultural and
political ideas, values and identities?
o       Arab/Muslim audience as a political public using religious television as source
for opposition and resistance.

Submission of proposals:
Abstracts (300 ­ 500 words) should be sent by 30th October 2010 too Ehab Galal at
(ehab AT hum.ku.dk).

Abstract, following this order: author(s), affiliation, email address, title of
abstract, body of abstract, short CV (max. 150 words).

A full draft paper of 8000 words should be submitted no later than 1st May 2011.

Selection of the papers will be made on the basis of quality and relevance to the
conference themes. Only accepted papers will get an answer by the date mentioned below.
Selected papers will be published in a special volume in English.

o       Submission of abstracts: 30th October 2010
o       Notification of acceptance of abstracts: 1st December 2010
o       Submission of full papers: 1st May 2011

Financial and other support:
All participants will be provided basic accommodation free of cost for a maximum of
three nights for participants within Europe; for participants outside Europe individual
arrangement will be made.

For additional information:
Organizer Ehab Galal
Assistant Professor in Modern Islam and Middle Eastern Studies
Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
University of Copenhagen
Snorresgade 17-19
DK-2300 Copenhagen S
E-mail: ehab AT hum.ku.dk

The conference will take place under the auspices of The New Islamic Public Sphere
Programme at the University of Copenhagen. For further information, see:

Internet Governance Forum to start in Cagliari next week

I am going next week to join this interesting event in Cagliari, the Internet Governance Forum (22-24 october).  Many issues will be tackled with different experts, one of them is the diversity issue. I am going to talk about the most recent web developments in the Arab world, the issues that the Arab world is going to face next, how the web is improving the Arab public sphere, self expression, public debate and of course social and cultural change. The Forum will re-open the discussion on the Internet Bill of Rights which is a very much needed international agreement that should contribute to keep the Internet as free and open to innovation and creativity as it always used to be.  Some recent developments in Europe like the French proposal on a very restrictive anti piracy law prove that we are in a urgent need of “a code of ethics” to keep Internet as a place for freedom of expression, innovation, creativity, diversity and pluralism, not for monopoly, control or restrictive access. For those who are around see you in beatiful Sardinia next week.