It has long been argued (including by me in my article “Making Global News”) that once frames are fully established and widely disseminated, it is extremely difficult to write outside them.
According to this article, which analyzes terrorism coverage in Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, even these news programs can’t escape the “Muslim as Terrorist” trope, which implies (falsely) that most, if not all contemporary terrorists are Muslims.
The best they can do is counter it with an additional (true) message: that the majority of victims of terrorism are Muslims.
Here’s the abstract:
This study examines the coverage of terrorism in two leading Arab news websites, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya from 11 September 2009 to 10 September 2010. It finds that the stereotype that ‘the terrorist is a Muslim’ continues in terrorism coverage, despite the fact that some terrorists are non-Muslims. However, the two sites manage to send out the message that ‘the majority of terrorism victims are Muslims.’ In addition, the findings reveal that too much media focus is placed on disseminating and supporting official positions and decisions, and humanitarian sufferings from terrorism are seldom brought to the attention of the public.
Peterson, Mark Allen. 2007. “Making Global News: ‘Freedom of Speech’ and ‘Muslim Rage’ in U.S. Journalism” Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life 1(3): 247-264.
Zeng, Li, and Khalaf Tahat. 2012. Picturing terrorism through Arabic lenses: a comparative analysis of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Asian Journal of Communication 22(5): 433-448
What is it like to be a man in the Middle East?
Raising three daughters in Cairo, I spent a lot of time observing differences in child raising not only between between Egyptians and Americans, broadly conceived, but between various intersections of class, religion and sex. Some of my discoveries are articulated in the fourth and fifth chapters of Connected in Cairo.
Over and over again I heard boys and young men’s behavior regulated with admonitions like “Khalik gada!” (Be a man!). Ruguula, manhood, is a central life problematic.
With her new book Live and Die Like a Man: Gender Dynamics in Urban Egypt (Stanford, 2014), Farha Ghannam has offered an extended ethnographic exploration of masculinity in the Middle East. It’s a wonderful, readable account that will become a standard work on gender in Egypt.
This book is important for a number of reasons, of which I’ll emphasize two:
First, the study of gender in the Middle East — as in most places– has been largely approached by focusing on women. While this work has helped counter many stereotypes of women as passive and powerless, it has had the unfortunate consequence of rendering masculinity unproblematic. Male becomes the “unmarked category,” the norm against which the female other is assessed.
Second, this approach ignores the ways in which gender is mutually constructed. Both masculinity and femininity are shaped by general structures of patriarchy but the agents through which this structure shapes individual males and females in particular ways are people, and usually the people closest to you: it is not only fathers but mothers who make their sons men; brothers not only watch and watch over sisters, those sisters’ speech and actions help form the brother’s behavior in both broad and subtle ways (indeed, the very act of “watching over” a sister forces men to confront their own masculinities in various ways).
Farha Ghannam approaches this problem of masculinity in two ways.
Leslie Lewis reflects on the nature of women’s personal piety and how it can be an agent of political and social change in an article in the most recent issue of Anthropology News.
The pious Muslim women she studied in 2006 sought to discipline themselves, and one another, to make themselves better people in the eyes of God. Besides dress, comportment and prayer, many devoted time to caring for the poor. In the process, they transformed Egyptian society “toward greater gender segregation, public expressions of piety, and social conservativism.”
We can learn a lot, Lewis says, from thinking about such women, and what they accomplish.
Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” first appeared in the soundtrack of “Despicable Me 2” but he’s done a lot with it since. It’s been an global hit, and nominated for an Academy Award for best song.
When he released the single version, he also unveiled the website 24hoursofhappy.com offering “the world’s first 24 hour music video“. This consists of the four-minute song repeated with various people dancing and miming along including a number of celebrity cameos including Steve Carell, Miranda Cosgrove, Jamie Foxx, Magic Johnson, JoJo, Jimmy Kimmel, Sérgio Mendes, Ana Ortiz, Odd Future and Kelly Osbourne. Williams appears every hour, and the minions from “Despicable Me 2″ also make multiple appearances.
An official four-minute edit of the video was also released on YouTube.
Making “Happy” Videos
The site, and the 4-minute official video, inspired people around the world to produce their own local versions. “We Are Happy in …” videos have appeared from Moscow, Paris, Krakow, Hong Kong and dozens of other places.
Including the Maghreb.
I first heard about them in Tunisia on PRI. Magharebia News site says the first was shot shot in Bizerte. A quick search on-line revealed additional videos filmed in Tunis, Carthage, Sousse, Monistir, Issep Kef, Nabeul, Beja, and Kairouan.
Here’s the one from Bizerte:
There’s also a Moroccan version:
What about Egypt?
Here on this blog, and in two forthcoming papers, I have been writing about the spirit of Tahrir Square during the 18-days of uprisings in 2011 using terms from anthropological theory such as antistucture, liminality and communitas, non-space and so forth.
There’s another theoretical tradition in anthropology that seeks to understand phenomena analogously with other phenomena from the same cultural system. This is the approach taken by Amira Mittermaier in a new article in the journal Cultural Anthropology.
Entitled “Bread, Freedom, Social Justice: The Egyptian Uprising and a Sufi Khadima” the article does as the title suggests: seeks to understand Tahrir Square and the spirit of the uprising in terms of the Sufi notion of a khidma, “a space, often close to a saint’s shrine, where food and tea are served and guests find a place to rest or sleep.”
The khidma is not only a model of the kind of qualitative space that Tahrir was, but it also articulates forms of interactivity–sharing, cooperating, seeking justice–that were definitive of Tahrir as a “utopian” cultural space. She argues that