World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


The Changing Role of Media (144) - Panel

· Date: TUE, 20 / 5-7 pm

· Language: English

· Description:
Paper Presenter: Mohamed Zayani (Associate Professor, Georgetown University) “Arab Media Studies between the Legacy of a Thin Discipline and the Promise of New Cultural Pathways”
The rapid and substantial development of Arab media in the past few years has attracted increased research interest, turning what was a small and in many ways marginalized area of study into a burgeoning field. This relatively new field, however, remains unevenly developed partly because of the fragmentation of the subject of analysis and partly because of the lack of adequate theoretical frameworks for examining the emerging dynamics and thinking through the intricacies and implications of the engendered changes. Particularly challenging is the weight of disciplinarily which often delineates the field of study in narrow communication terms. A media-centric approach is likely to undermine the fact that media speaks of wider processes at work. In a richly-complex region like the Middle East, the tight connection between media, political communication, political economy, and in fact culture at large is not sufficiently emphasized. A cultural studies perspective can go a long way toward rejuvenating the study of Arab media and unravelling the unfolding of a region-specific set of dynamics for which the media are arguably only a pointed manifestation. An examination of recent noteworthy scholarship which weaves together the cultural, the anthropological and the socio-political can help situate rich possibilities for future interdisciplinary, theoretically-informed and culturally-attuned research on Arab media which eschews the more narrowly-conceived pursuits based on media-centric models characteristic of much of what is produced in the field.

Paper Presenter: Nisrin Abu Amara (Post-doctorante,INED-Institut National démographique) « Towards a Public Debate: Media representations of Violence against Women in Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian occupied territories”
Since the 90’s, we have witnessed the emergence of a controversial public debate on violence against women (VAW) in the Middle East. This new trend is related to local and international NGO’s and women’s networks activism in the Arab world, as well as to the recent debate on VAW crossing geographical and cultural boundaries. This awareness is followed and simultaneously fuelled by the publication of research and population surveys on the subject (such as DHS in Egypt, Al Haj Yahia in Palestine etc). Nevertheless, a little have been said on the way national and independent media handles the issue in the region, in the light of the ambiguous political context, and censorship practices. In this communication, we will deal with the following questions: How do these actors, including state organizations and journalists, shape the public debate on violence against women through the media? And secondly, what are the limits of this debate? For this purpose, we will expose our content analysis of several national and independent newspapers in the Middle East: (Al Ahram International (Egypt), Al Quds (Palestine), Al Ayyam (Palestine) and Jordan Times (Jordan). The main analysis was conducted on 148 press articles taken from the National Egyptian daily "Al Ahram International” between 2002 and 2004. The articles concerned different forms of violence such as so-called "honour" crimes (32 articles) and "marital crimes" committed by the husband (92 articles) and by the wives against their spouses (22 articles). Additionally, we will focus on recent websites managed by independent activists and NGOs, such as the Amman-Jordan website (Jordan), and Nysasi (Syria). As we will see, the debate on VAW in the region is extremely challenging because of the sensitivity of the subject which affects not only journalists, but also researchers who encounter difficulties during their field study. Nevertheless, the question is increasingly raised as we have seen in the numerous conferences and projects on the subject, whether in the media, political, or research field.

Paper Presenter: Sarah El-Richani (Universitaet Erfurt) “Lebanese media system goes comparative”
The focus of my paper is on the reportedly ''disoriented and fragmented'' Lebanese media system and to what extent this system 'fits', if at all, under any of the three 'ideal types' put forth by Daniel Hallin and Paolo Mancini in their seminal book 'Comparing Media Systems'. This endeavor, based on my ongoing PhD research, will use the Hallin and Mancini models as a scholarly springboard in an effort to take these models beyond the established democracies of Europe and North America. This study responds to a recurring call for comparative work and particularly for the application of the Hallin and Mancini model on other non-Western media models. In trying to apply the model to the Lebanese media system, this paper will therefore also assess the complex dimensions developed by the two scholars, both hailing from established democracies. It must be noted that Hallin and Mancini acknowledge the limitation of this system and explicitly admit that restricting themselves to Western Europe and North America was 'a limitation' and that the models should serve as an 'inspiration' for a process of re-modelling by adapting the models they put forth to a certain context or the total creation of new models. This study proposes to do just that. The paper presented, therefore, shall focus on the need of comparative studies especially in Arab media research, the Lebanese media system and suggested dimensions of a new model adapted to the Lebanese media system and similar nascent democracies in the Middle East region and beyond.

Paper Presenter: Fuat MAN / Cemal Iyem (Research Assistant-Sakarya University) “Invisible Poverty as a Reality: The Case of Turkish Press and the Poverty in Turkey”
In an uncertain age any social scientist has to think twice when he uses the term 'reality'. At first sight, the term seems as from a 'meta narrative' and as if it is not convenient to describe a current situation that generally has been located in a 'post-modern' era. But, what if there are some statistical data that show apparently bad living conditions of some parts of the population? Although statistical data are rarely supply accurate information, they give a hint on the 'reality' of this population. Doubtless there is certain poverty in great number around the world and in all countries. According to data of Turkish Statistical Institute the same assumption is also true for Turkey. Although there is a tendency to down for poverty rate recently, poverty is still a reality for millions of people. Yet, despite the fact that when we look at the agenda of the country by mass media, may be the most powerful tool to shape perception of population, we almost couldn’t see any track of this poverty. The number of report on poverty is in very small size in comparison with the report on political debates. This tendency of the media results in negligence of poverty or make poverty 'invisible', and this result doesn’t push government to taka action urgently. In this paper, we intend to scan several big Turkish daily newspapers in a period and follow the poverty tracks in their reports. Showing the reality of poverty, at first we will outline poverty in Turkey using some statistical data from Turkish Statistical Institute, and then scan the press and show the negligence for poverty.

Paper Presenter: Dr. Fahrettin Altun (Assistant Professor, Istanbul Sehir University) “Intellectual Roots of Left-Kemalism in Turkey: the Yön Journal (1961-1967)”
This paper seeks to examine the intellectual roots of left-Kemalist ideology, one of the main political readings of Turkish official ideology, through sociological analysis of Yön journal in the 1960s. In the current political realm of Turkey, Kemalism is very much alive ideological discourse with which different political actors try to justify their political programs and actions. However, only the leftist reading of Kemalism can create its own “discursive continuum” in the history of contemporary Turkish politics. This paper deals with this “discursive continuum”, main tenets of left-Kemalism and its major communication strategies in Yön journal which was the first attempt to formulate a nationalist leftist ideology by means of an authentic interpretation of Kemalism. As a politically Kemalist and ideologically socialist Yön has very much shaped the political culture in Turkey from that period up to the present. Yön has been a political and intellectual platform on which some essential concepts for Turkish politics such as Kemalism, socialism, etatism, populism, nationalism, development and democracy has been reformulated in line with its founding fathers: Jacobean understandings of politics and society. This paper mainly seeks to examine the journal’s founding fathers, raison d’être, main concerns and political purposes in association with the important socio-political developments of the time and sociologically resolve its construction of the language of communication and disclose the “political conservatism” in this language. Hereby, it looks into Yön, implicitly or explicitly referred to as “progressive” in the history of Turkish political thought, excluding the “progressiveness-reaction” dichotomy and takes it up from a different perspective. Accordingly, its ideas regarding democracy, nationalism, socialism, statism, Kemalism and contemporary forces will be set forth, its proposed ideology of modernization will be explicated and its contribution to the interpretation and popularization of Kemalism will be analyzed. This paper is grounded on the data acquired by critical analysis of all of the issues of the journal published between 1961 and 1967 except for a fourteen months stoppage.