Anonymous, 22 Oct 2017
Research on Middle East, Islam and digital media
create content
Do you want to publish your call for papers or article on Digital Islam?
more
newsletter
Register for Newsletter
more

Middle Eastern Women’s ‘Glocal’: Journeying between the Online and Public Spheres

Despite the fact that the Arab Spring did not necessarily materialize with the political effects anticipated by some of its activists, it has brought into the spotlight the significance of the role of women in direct connection to the online space. In this respect, the article addresses the online world as Middle Eastern women subcultural capital in their traversal to the public sphere, which is otherwise rigorously enforced particularly on women. The hybridity of the private and the public exemplified in the online world in effect plays a pivotal role in rendering the visibility of Middle Eastern women in the political public sphere possible, where new media provides an effective vehicle for those women to establish social and political networks and organizations. Though the goals for those women activists might vary based on the nature of their countries, they have shown to have aptly journeyed between the online and public spheres in order to voice their glocal experiences.
CyberOrient

Saudi Women and Socio-Digital Technologies: Reconfiguring Identities

Drawing on research conducted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this paper explores the specific uses of digital technologies by Saudi women. It shows how these women – whose gender identity is strongly constrained by a host of social and religious norms characterizing Saudi society – make use of digital technologies, and particularly mobile telephones. The various applications available for mobile telephony open up to them a whole range of choices on how to communicate and use photography, thus enabling them to circumvent their assigned gender identity, at least at the margin.
CyberOrient

Science and Islam Videos: Creating a Methodology to Find “All” Unique Internet Videos

This methodology article explores the process through which we sought to catalogue videos addressing natural science and Islam on the Internet comprehensively. This data was then used to select videos for inclusion in the Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies’ Science and Islam Video Portal (www.scienceandislamvideos.com), which evaluates the videos based on their representations of science, Islam and history. As a growing body of research is demonstrating, Internet videos provide a window into the lives of both celebrity and ordinary Muslims and their critics worldwide. The article describes the methodological decisions of what to include and exclude from the study, framing them in a discussion of some of the key terms. We then step through the process of searching for videos and cleaning the data, providing flow charts with details. In the last section of the article, we discuss the results and their ramifications on our continuing research.
CyberOrient

Youth Activism and Social Networks in Egypt

The arrival of the Internet-based technologies has made the work of professional activists much more effective and has attracted the attention of society and observers, if only because their internal and external communications became much cheaper and harder to be monitored. The new social networking technologies have provided the youth with new channels for participation and empowerment. This became true in a part of the world where the older generations, in either government or opposition, controlled the traditional political and cultural arena and dominated the public sphere. However, the younger generations gradually launched creative initiatives using online media in recent years. The younger generations have engaged in public affairs by peaceful means to bring about a change and to influence the decision-making processes and policies. In this regard, the new social media played a facilitating role in the long wave of continuous politics in Egypt, although it is not a causal role. It basically helped in the mobilization and framing process aiming to delegitimize the regime and demoralize its policies. The ideas and ideologies spread in the public sphere, and, in addition to grievances, enabled the young activists to present new claims and to behave in ways that fundamentally challenged the authorities. Indeed the social media impact could not lead to real change without physical offline action in society. In this respect the most notable actions, such as the April 6 Strike in El Mahala 2008 and January 25 revolution, were triggered by the marriage between online and offline activism, particularly when activists moved smartly between online and offline activities to create real challenges to the regime and to escape from police repression.
CyberOrient

Constructing and Consuming Gender through Media

Gender is constructed, performed and consumed through media in multiple ways. In this special issue of CyberOrient, we aim to bring together research on a range of Middle Eastern and Muslim cultural media products. In addition, a couple of the articles and essays shed light on the ways in which gender and gender activism may be enacted online in a variety of ways. The overarching goal of this special issue is to examine how gender roles are constructed, transmitted, performed and negotiated, and at times put forward as part of lifestyle or ideological choices. At the same time, we are interested in how such media products are received, imagined, and consumed in the every day lives of audiences. This special issue focuses both on media practices and media cultural production in the Middle East as well as products intended for consumption by Muslim and Middle Eastern diaspora.
CyberOrient

Contextualizing Internet Studies: Beyond the Online/Offline Divide

This essay discusses the issue of contextualization in studies of online platform usage and online material. It argues that a separation between online and offline cannot be sustained, as social media users relate to many different online and offline contexts simultaneously. Why protagonists make use of online platforms, which platforms they use, how they make use of them, who they seek to reach, and so on, is all dependent on the various geographical and social contexts within which they work. At the same time, these users are also part of and are influenced by different online contexts that may be based on topic, identity, or geography, and which may be local, national, regional or international. When we study online material – be it activism, language use, discourse, or something else - we must do so with all these relevant settings in mind. Throughout the essay, I seek to illustrate these complex relationships between different online and offline contexts through concrete examples from Egypt and Kuwait. I argue that the material shows that we cannot generalize and simply assume similar patterns of usage of online platforms producing similar outcomes across different contexts. Still, research so far has provided insights that are important both in their own right and, not least, as methodological and theoretical considerations for future studies, and I conclude by suggesting three principles that should guide our investigations of online material.
CyberOrient

Five Questions About Arab Women’s Activism Five Years After the ‘Arab Spring’

The Arab world witnessed unprecedented waves of revolt in 2011, which have taken the whole world by surprise, and led to many unexpected outcomes and varying results. Five years after this wave of revolt, it becomes necessary to examine its wide array of effects, especially on certain groups who played a significant role in the midst of these uprisings, such as youth and women. This article addresses a number of important points pertaining to Arab women and their future, such as the effect of the turbulent political environment in the Arab region on Arab women’s movements and their ability to organize; the impact of violations of human rights and the curbing of media freedom on Arab women’s online and offline activism; the implications of the prevailing environment of fragmentation and polarization in many parts of the Arab world on Arab women’s activism, both offline and online; rethinking the potentials and limitations of “cyberactivism” and “cyberfeminism” in terms of enhancing Arab women’s empowerment, activism, and inclusion; as well as coming up with a more inclusive and comprehensive approach, which accounts for different categories of Arab women, when rethinking the notion of “cyberfeminism.”
CyberOrient

Performing Piety and Perfection: The Affective Labor of Hijabi Fashion Videos

This article examines the work of a popular Muslim woman on YouTube, Amena Khan, who has attracted over 310 thousand subscribers to her channel and runs a successful online boutique. While Amena’s hijab tutorials and lifestyle videos might appear to be just about superficial topics like fashion or makeup, this article argues that she does actual labor to not only produce an aesthetic style but to also create an affective condition of what it means to be a Muslim woman living within a neoliberal context. Amena’s videos illustrate what Michael Hardt (1999) defines as “affective labor” within this neoliberal economy. Amena might sell hijabs online, but she does not actually produce physical objects. What she does produce is an affective state—feelings around how to properly act within this neoliberal culture while still maintaining Islamic piety. The space of YouTube also allows for Amena to blend different affects and aesthetic styles, such as neoliberal elements of aspiration, creativity and individuality with Islamic ethics like piety, modesty and submission. Ultimately, the reason why Amena can attract viewers and run a successful fashion business is because she works to produce an affective state that seamlessly moves between Islamic ethics and neoliberal values.
CyberOrient

Let’s Talk About Sex: Counselling Muslim Selves Online

Islam Online Arabic, and particularly the counselling service Problems and Solutions, received harsh critique for being too ‘open’ or even ‘un–Islamic’ in their views and dealings with sensitive topics, not least with regards to sexuality. The counselling service Problems and Solutions can be considered the emblem of Islam Online’s efforts to unite secular and Islamic perspectives and relate to contemporary Muslims’ real lives and problems. Counsellors argue that there is a total lack of sexual education in the Arab world, a problem which must be faced head on. Problems and Solutions questioners could ask the most intimate of questions without shame or embarrassment. This article provides an overview of the types of questions about sexuality and sexual relations that questioners sent to Problems and Solutions counsellors. Moreover, the analysis sheds light on: 1) the various aspects of contemporary Arab marriages and taboo–ridden sexuality which counsellors believe to be detrimental to marriages, and 2) a variety of proposed local remedies, including encouraging men to aspire to the ‘new man’ ideal.
CyberOrient

When Shaming Backfires: The Doublespeak of Digitally-Manipulated Misogynistic Photographs

This study examines the case of an iconic digitally-manipulated news photograph, a controversial product of political propaganda featuring Majid Tavakoli, a student leader of the Iranian opposition in 2009, human rights activist, and political prisoner. The photograph depicts Mr. Tavakoli wearing a chador, traditional women's clothing in Iran, and appears to be digitally manipulated with the help of image-editing software. Published during the "Green Movement" protests of 2009, it triggered controversy and the production of a series of political memes mocking the Iranian authorities. This study analyzes how misogynistic shaming tactics utilized to discredit Mr. Tavakoli failed, transforming his digitally-manipulated image into the symbol of resistance. Accounting for the role of social media in raising awareness about the public's discontent regarding gender inequality, human rights violations, and media censorship in Iran, the study extends the typology of standard photojournalistic icons (Perlmutter, 1998) by adding the dimension of credibility to categorize ambiguous digitally-manipulated photojournalistic content in contentious times.
CyberOrient
page 1 of 12113 items