This is an open invitation to any media researchers in the Arab world who might be interested in joining a network of other researchers across the world in a forthcoming study of the world reception of the films, currently being released, of J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Working in up to 30 languages, and recruiting responses to a specially-designed online survey (which combines multiple-choice with open-ended qualitative questions), the project has the serious ambition of recruiting over 50,000 responses. We are looking for partners in any Arab country, to complete a network which already reaches into all other parts of the world.

The project has at its heart a series of questions about: the role of fantasy in the lives of audiences in different countries and cultures; the ways in which a British story, turned into Hollywood films, takes on meaning in different places; and the ways in which people respond, not just as individuals, but as kinds of people feeling that they belong to (real, virtual, or imagined) communities. It builds on from a smaller but highly successful project conducted in 2003-4, which studied world responses to thefilms of The Lord of the Rings.

If you would like to know more about the project (timescale, tasks involved, benefits to those taking part, etc), please contact Professor Martin Barker, Aberystwyth University, UK (email: mib@aber.ac.uk).