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From BBC Arabic to Al –Jazeera English: The Middle East in the Age of Globalized and Globalizing Narratives (Call for Papers for Journal)

Organization: Université de Lille
Event: Call for Papers for Journal
Categories: Interdisciplinary, Popular Culture, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2020-10-31 to 2020-10-31 Abstract Due: 2020-10-30 Abstract Deadline has passed

From BBC Arabic to Al –Jazeera English:
The Middle East in the Age of Globalized and Globalizing Narratives

Traditionally, discussions of the Middle East and Mass Media largely focus on the following topics: the lack of fully independent media in the Middle East, or the lack of objectivity by Western media networks in their representations of the Middle East. Studies demonstrate the ways in which the states in the Middle East tend to establish discouraging barriers in order to impede the development of an institutionalized, free and participatory media in the Arab world (Telhami 2013 and Alterman 1998). This remark of course can be easily extended to Iran and, more recently, Turkey as the latter’s leader is increasingly criticized for imprisoning journalists in the post-coup purges. Yet, as other studies demonstrate, the advent of satellite TV, and later the Internet, has seriously challenged the strict state monopoly. Increasing Arab and Persian channels broadcast globally and have enabled growing numbers of Middle Easterners to access information sources outside their state- controlled borders. These outlets are run either by diasporas (often funded by regional rivals of the home country) and opposition exiles, or belong to established media networks, such as the BBC, CNN, or Russia Today which often reflect and justify foreign policy decisions by incumbent administrations. In this sense, some have claimed, for instance, that it is Britain’s historical “colonial” interest in the region that justifies the BBC Arabic and Persian’s hefty budget despite the corporation’s continued financial struggle under constant Tory austerity.
In this context, the launching of the Qatari funded Al-Jazeera International in 2006 sought to provide an alternative to Western media corporations. The broadcaster has since been providing new perspectives not only on the interminable crises and conflicts that have come to define the Middle East, but also has aimed to extend its coverage to ones that beset liberal-democracies: Brexit, Trump’s election, and the rise of populism in Europe more generally. This attempt, however, has been met with mixed responses as the network has been accused of inciting religious divisions and instability in countries that have long been allies to the West, namely Saudi Arabia and, especially, Egypt under Mubarak and Sisi. During the Arab Spring, for instance, top journalists left Al-Jazeera and joined the competitor Al-Arabia which is funded and run by the Saudi royal family. The other major “alternative” that has emerged is Russia Today whose “information war” with the US and its Eurpean allies challenges the Western liberal hegemony. Like Al-Jazeera, the Russian funded media network also runs multilingual platforms (including Arabic), attracting a transnational audience across the globe.

The aim of this call for papers is to invite experts to address the ways in which the contemporary Middle East is constructed, represented, and contested globally in transnational and multilingual media networks. Scholars may choose to explore one or more aspects of media studies such as media language, media representation, audience and institution. Papers that can shed light on the roles these networks play in the international relations of countries within the Middle East as well as their relations with the West and Russia are also welcome.

Possible topics include:

Comparative study of the BBC and Al-Jazeera (but also RT, CNN, and France 24)
Comparative study of Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabia, and Press TV
Comparative study of the different BBC services (English, Arabic, Persian)
Comparative study of the different Al-Jazeera services (e.g. English and Arabic)
Comparative representations of the Sunni-Shia divide
The representation (or construction) of the Middle East as in a permanent state of crisis
The Middle East in the BBC since the Suez Crisis
The Arab Spring in transnational media
Representations of Brexit in Al-Jazeera (and/or other Middle Eastern media)
Media and Foreign Policy
the representation of the Iran-US conflict
Mediatization of the US and/or UK - Middle East relations
Talk shows and comedies as political satire and their potential and shortcomings as counter-

discursive tools
New media and the influence of “networked communications”

Paper proposals in English or French are to be sent to Dr. Mehdi Ghassemi (m.ghassemi@edu- istc.fr) and Dr. Boualem Fardjaoui (boualem.fardjaoui@univ-lille.fr) before October 31, 2020.


Dr. Mehdi Ghassemi