Anonymous, 20 Jul 2018
Research on Middle East, Islam and digital media
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Violence and Visibility in Contemporary Syria: An Ethnography of the “Expanded Places”

This article reflects on the relationship between visibility and violence as redefined by the combined action of warfare and networked communication technologies. Drawing on the author's own ethnography conducted in Syria in 2010, and on anonymous YouTube videos, it introduces the concept of “expanded places” to look at sites that have been physically annihilated; yet, at the same time, they have been re-animated through multiple mediated versions circulating and re-circulating on the networks. Building on Rancière's work on the distribution of the sensible, the article argues that, at the intersection of those simultaneous actions of annihilation and regeneration, a new geography of visibility and violence is being shaped which rearranges the existing into a completely new political form and aesthetic format. Thriving on the techno-human infrastructure of the networks, and relying on the endless proliferation of images resulting from the loss of control of image-makers over their own production, expanded places are aggregators of new communities that add novel layers of signification to the empirical world, and create their own multiple realities and histories.
CyberOrient

The Shifting Nature of Cyberwarfare in Middle Eastern States

While some theorists make the claim that “kinetic and traditional military power are losing importance to symbolic and media power,” in reality the present military situation is complicated by the variety of tactics used by both governments and civilians in multiple and overlapping war zones. The Middle East has recently been the center of enormous military and media attention regarding the use of many forms of “new” media military operations. However, rather than arguing that online warfare has trumped physical encounters, cyber campaigns must be seen as being deployed in conjunction with on-the-ground military maneuvers. The use of online strategies disperses power and allows for an increasing role by non-state actors in both online and offline spaces of conflict. Drawing from the geographic literature on war, especially Derek Gregory’s concept of “everywhere war,” examples are offered from Syria, Iran, Gaza, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
CyberOrient

Islamophobia in Online Arab Media

What is Islamophobia? A popular term among many newspapers articles, politicians’ speeches and scholarly texts, it is rarely clearly defined. Although the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ is difficult to define it has been a source of heated discussion in academic work, public diplomacy, government policy and news media. Governments, social think tanks and various scholars have attempted to define Islamophobia in order to counter incidents of physical, legal or verbal abuse of Muslims, Islamic artifacts and symbols, etc. Those attempts tend to present Islamophobia as a global phenomenon, similar in all its occurrences and definable as a concrete observable fact. This article supports a move from Islamophobia singular to Islamophobia(s) plural by exploring notions of Islamophobia in Arab and Muslim online media. It is suggested that multiple, localized “Islamophobias” exist and that varying uses and understanding of the term may occur in that media. Furthermore, the article problematizes the emergence of the term and its sometimes over-simplified uses, stepping away from an ‘Us’ against ‘Them’ dichotomies. Through careful and thematic analysis of the sources, the political and religious apparatuses of “Islamophobias” are crystalized.
CyberOrient

Visual Representation, Propaganda and Cyberspace: The Case of the Palestinian Islamist Movements

The article analyzes the changing position of the visual representation in the context of Islam from the starting point set up in the Qur’an and more specifically in the prophetic tradition to the theoretical positions of Islamic reformism and radicalism and the practice of Islamism movements. To understand this changing relationship is crucial for the research of ideology and propaganda of the contemporary Islamist movement. In the second part, the article illustrates this new position of images in the visual representations of Palestinian Islamist movements, specifically of Hamas – The Islamic Resistance Movement and its military wing the Brigades of the Martyr ‘Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine and its military wing the Phalanges of Jerusalem and finally the Popular Resistance Committees and its military wing the Victorious Salah al-Din Brigades.
CyberOrient

Presenting the Glossy Look of Warfare in Cyberspace – The Islamic State’s Magazine Dabiq

Since Ramaḍān 1435 (June/July 2014), the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (dawlat al-islāmiyya, IS), the ‘State of the Caliphate’ (dawlat al-khilāfa), publishes a periodic magazine entitled Dabiq. This glossy outlet, produced and distributed by al-Ḥayāt, one of the movement’s media organizations, is widely disseminated on the Internet and forms part of IS’s advancement in the field of the media. Published in English and other European languages, it allows the movement to spread its messages to an international audience. This article analyzes and evaluates four issues of Dabiq published in English between June and October 2014.It argues that three aspects are crucial for framing the ideological justification of the movement’s warfare and help to rally support for their state-building project: the development and establishment of images of the enemy, the notion of ‘strangeness,’ and the call for emigration. Within this framework, the magazine intertwines textual and visual accounts of the movement’s physical and virtual battlefields and mediates these to a non-Arab speaking public. Thus, Dabiq is – chronologically, technologically, and ideologically – the most recent and very well elaborated attempt of the Islamic State at winning support among the broadest public possible on a global level. The article concludes that the magazine at large and the abovementioned aspects reflect both the ideological structure of the movement and its current situation in Iraq and Syria. Utilizing derogative images of their enemies helps the Islamic State both to maintain its claim for legitimacy and to position their adherents and opponents within a dichotomous ideological framework. On this basis, it calls its followers to immigrate to the land of the two rivers and the Levant in order to support the establishment of an Islamic State and eradicate nation state borders.
CyberOrient

The History of Telephony in the Non-West

This special issue of CyberOrient deals with the history of telephony in the non-west. Although the comprehensive histories of different media technologies in the west have been well covered in the existing media and history literature, the roles that these imported technologies played in the non-west have not been elaborated in detail. The telephone as a technology of communication took up differing roles in private and public spaces. The socio-political changes it fostered both in private and professional relations should be regarded as a significant object of historical analysis.
CyberOrient

Review: Technology and National Identity in Turkey. Mobile Communications and the Evolution of a Post-Ottoman Nation

Technology and National Identity in Turkey is a social study of technology or, more precisely, of the cultural, historical, social, psychological and individual contexts, attitudes, and practices connected to and resulting from the use of mobile phones in Turkey. It also looks into the ways this technology has been 'domesticated' or 'nationalized' and links it to the shaping of national identity.
CyberOrient

The Introduction of Telephone into Turkish Houses: Private Space, Borders of the Neighborhoods and Solidarity

This essay is based on the data collected in a two-year research project (between 2010–2012), under the title Telephony And Turkish Modernization: Social History of Telephone Since The Ottoman Era (1881–2010), which was primarily concerned with the social history of telephone in Turkey during is peculiarly long history of implementation and dispersal. The project was conducted as oral history and archive research, and a comparative approach was adopted to identify and analyze the divergent nature of their findings. According to the findings of the researched archive materials (newspapers, comic and popular magazines), the implementation of telephone into the Turkish houses created complex feelings, which found its expression as both “emulation” and “intimidation” attached to the experience of telephone in a double system of representation. Whereas the oral history research findings are discordant in the sense that telephone is remembered as a symbol of “solidarity” and “sharing” in the narratives of telephone memories, and was accommodated into the traditional everyday life of the neighborhood. Through the case of telephone technology, this essay aims at pointing out the gap between the discursive construction of the elements of the experience of modernity and the actual experience of the historical subjects; and argues that this gap should be disclosed with more ethnographic studies for it also points a feeling of ‘lack’ that pervasively infuses itself into our present and finds its expression in the self-narratives of the oral history as a nostalgia for the past.
CyberOrient

Reflections on Oral History: Four Cities on the Social History of Telephone Technology in Turkey

Throughout the history of the Turkish Republic, the telephone has collectively been perceived as a technology of modernity, progress, wealth and cultural capital. Yet due to a deteriorated infrastructure, which has hindered penetration of the telephone to the entire country, only a small segment of society was able to install a telephone in their private dwellings as well as in their place of business. This article discusses the results of an oral history research, based on in-depth interviews with telephone users (and non-users) in Istanbul, Ankara, Kayseri and Diyarbakir, conducted during 2011–2012. Essentially, this article argues, that technology transfer does not necessarily translate itself into modes of social life as modernity, at least not uniformly so. On the contrary, our oral history study displays a variety of “modernities”, which existed side by side.
CyberOrient

The Telephone and the Social Struggles in Turkey: An Overview of a Social History of a Communication Technology

This essay presents an overview of social history of telephone technology in Turkey, by taking the user-perspective to its center. As part of the set of essays in this special issue dealing with the history of telephony in the non-west, this essay seeks to explore how the telephone has become part of social practices of people, how it has integrated into the social struggles of people and how it has been appropriated to convey the users' struggle to alter their positions in the social structure, assert their agencies and participate in the making of the modern throughout the history of modern Turkey. Rather than offering a detailed categorization, periodization and related narration of the life of the telephone technology in Turkey/Ottoman Empire, this article specifically focuses on some moments where the meanings and the uses of telephone in daily life practices and imaginations of people reflected and contributed to the mobilization of the social struggle in the form of class and/or ethnic and gender struggle.
CyberOrient
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