World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


COMMUNICATION, COOPERATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN THE MEDITERRANEAN REGION - 1/5: Media's role in the Social Construction of the Euro Mediterranean Region (028) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: MON 19, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Teresa Velázquez

· NOT_DEFINED language: English/Français

· NOT_DEFINED description: The contents of this Serial Panel deal with the following issues: the role of media in the Social Construction of the Euro Mediterranean Region, Information and Communication Rights in the Mediterranean Region, Media and Gender representation in the Mediterranean Region, Mediterranean as a Semiotic space and, finally, Training in Cross-Mediterranean Mediation. These contents contribute to show how mass media in the Mediterranean region reflect through their news the recommendations, agreements and objectives of international organizations, such as the Barcelona Process -Union for the Mediterranean, the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy and the Alliance of Civilizations, whose main concern is the Euro-Mediterranean space.

This serial panel aims to present research findings on how mass media, on a comparative basis, dedicate interest and importance to issues related to this region, and observe the selection of topics and their ranking among other contents. Therefore, one aspect linked to the main topic of Panel 1 is referred to a state-of-the-art on information and communication rights in the region. It focuses on both the access of citizens to new media and the freedom of press, which indicate the degree of civil liberties to which citizens are entitled in any democratic country and allows comparisons in the region. Cooperation and human development in the field of communication would be main topics of Panel 2. The relationship between gender and communication would be developed in Panel 3. Its aim is to evidence how mass media deal with this topic and examine how the recommendations, agreements and objectives of international organizations mentioned above are consistent with those identified in them. Panel 4 would focus on political and cultural representations in the region. The main topic would be their symbolic construction, analyzed by a semiotic perspective, which can show the relationship between cultural identities with political, ideological, religious in the region. The final panel would be dedicated to the role of education in relation to these issues. We do believe crucial how future socio-cultural mediators are educated from an intercultural perspective and the role of communication as a mediator in these processes.

Description: this session would focus on the contribution of media for the Euro Mediterranean space construction, considering the policies of the Barcelona Process-Union for the Mediterranean, the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy and the Alliance of Civilizations.

Chair: Teresa Velásquez, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Discussant: Juan Antonio García Galindo, Universidad de Málaga

Paper presenter: Tayeb Boutbouqalt, Université Abdelmalek Essaâdi, La politique du voisinage de l'Union Européenne à travers les medias marocains
Cette communication traite de la Politique de Voisinage de l'UE à travers la presse marocaine, aussi bien au niveau de l'espace rédactionnelle accordée à ce sujet, qu'au niveau du traitement de son contenu. L'interprétation des résultats obtenus à partir d'analyses quantitatives et qualitatives, effectués à partir de catégories préétablies, nous permettra de dégager un ensemble de facteurs explicatifs capables de nous éclairer sur l'étendue et les limites de cette politique de voisinage. Chose qui débouchera immanquablement sur de nouvelles hypothèses de travail plus adaptées.

Paper presenter: Carmina Crusafon, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Mediterranean TV productions and cultural dialogue
TV plays a central role in Mediterranean media ecosystem. It becomes a tool for cooperation between professionals and governments in the cultural field. This contribution aims to present an overview of television productions in the Mediterranean and how they could be one instrument for the cultural dialogue. The focus will be on the co-productions between producers from both sides of the Mediterranean and it will also analyze the impact of audiovisual policies in this geographic area, specially the one from the European Union. The analysis will be done under the perspective of Political Economy and Media Policies.

Paper presenter: Lucía Molina, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, The recommendations of the Alliance of Civilizations and the Media. The Syrian case
Taking as datum point the recommendations from the Alliance of Civilizations with respect to mass media, we considered to show to what extent the Syria mass media have incorporated significant changes channeled to diminish tensions in the relations between the Western world and the Arab-Islamic world in the last years. Our hypothesis is that a tendency in this line exists and that this one is manifested mainly in the language used by media. In the case of Syria, the most remarkable approach to the postulates of the Alliance of Civilizations is more shaped in the lexicon than in the content; not meaning with that the lexicon is not contained, but it is a consubstantial part of it.

Paper presenter: Fernando Sabés, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, The use of journalistic writing in the informative treatment of the Euro Mediterranean space social construction
The speech deals with a research on the way journalistic genres are used when dealing with information related to the Euro-Mediterranean Space. More specifically, it deals with the journalistic formats in press from both sides of the Mediterranean. Besides it aims to analysing the news coverage made by such media in the Euro-Mediterranean area. A comparative study of the different headlines allows for an in depth analysis of the different way events are perceived in the countries in this area.

Paper presenter: Naomi Sakr, Wetsminster University, Pan-Arab TV and its viewers in Europe: The Euro-Med space as construed in programming policies
Europe and the Arab world are neighbours, but the way their mainstream media represent each other is a perennial topic of concern on both sides of the Mediterranean. There is little published research about how Arab satellite news channels, which are a major source of current affairs information for Arab viewers, deal with events and issues in European countries. Even less clear is how much importance they attach to reporting on Euro-Arab relations as such, and on the various initiatives intended to promote and consolidate the notion of a shared Euro-Med space. This paper explores the policies of leading Arab satellite networks towards programming that can serve the information needs of Arabic-speaking communities in European Mediterranean countries and examines European initiatives to promote Euro-Arab good neighbourliness through Arab media.

Paper presenter: Valentina Saini Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, "European policies in the Mediterranean and the Media coverage of Islamism in the European and Arab press".
From Morocco to Syria, there are many socio-political groups in the countries of the Mediterranean Southern shore, which claim an Islamic identitary and symbolic framework through their discourse and action. Besides, in many of these countries, Islamist socio-political movements represent the most efficient and organized opposition. For this reason, and with the support of the international community in the context of the War on terror, Arab regimes strongly control and often repress Islamist movements. Neither the USA or the EU currently seem to have the will to recognize Islamist movements as legitimate actors for open dialogue, even when they are clearly and legitimately involved in the conflicts of the Mediterranean area which the EU, the Union for the Mediterranean and the Alliance of the Civilizations among others, are willing to solve.
Media play a fundamental role in the social construction of reality, and it is not casual that the Barcelona Process – Union for the Mediterranean and the Alliance of Civilizations formulated clear recommendation for the media to contribute to build a EuroMediterranean space of peace, security and dialogue in order to solve the many conflicts that affect this area.
Usually, Western media do not seem to make an exhaustive and thorough coverage of the Islamist phenomenon and of its many versions and discourses. They seem to focus on violent groups and language, on women repression and tend to represent Islamist actors as homogeneous and irrational. Yet, analyzing the discourse of the majority of these groups, it is easy to identify their demands, which are clearly political, economic and social demands, even though expressed in a symbolic language typical of the Muslim culture.
We will make an analysis of media coverage about Islamist groups comparing one European newspaper with an Arab one in order to verify whether they follow the recommendations of the Barcelona Process – Union for the Mediterranean and of the Alliance of Civilization for the construction of a EuroMediterranean space of peace, security and dialogue. The methodology that we will apply will be content analysis, and its results will be analyzed basing on the theory of the social construction of reality.