Call for Papers: MESA 2013
Religion, Media and Politics in the Middle East: Anthropological Perspectives
The intersection of religion and media is a vibrant area of inquiry within anthropology. This literature understands religion as a form of mediation in addition to exploring how media are mobilized in religious contexts. Driving this scholarship is a key concern with the technological mediation of the sacred: with how media, in a very real sense, “make” religion, or at least make it possible in new ways.
This panel seeks to bring together contributions that move beyond an analysis of on-screen media content to ask about what it means to see/listen/feel “religiously” by exploring the intersections of media technologies, religion, and politics in the Middle East. At stake here is not just the creation of new forms of religious media, but also new ways of imagining what religiosity is, how it should be cultivated, and to what ends.
How does the location of religious media within regimes of entertainment, neo-liberalism, revolutionary nationalism, or ethical self-discipline rearrange the conditions of possibility for religious discourse, power, and authority? In what ways do the uprisings across the region articulate with the changing terrain of religious media, whether televisual, print or aural? How do the political economies of media technologies and infrastructures in the region map out and interact with religious media? In what ways do religious media travel across borders and within specific transnational religious communities in the Middle East? What strategies do media-makers imagine as effective in producing certain forms of subjects and not others? How do viewers/listeners/readers ignore, appropriate, resist or re-signify the intended effects of religious media in their everyday lives?
Other themes of interest include the intersections of religious media with sectarian tensions, human rights paradigms, class, gender, protest movements, competing notions of secularity and wider geo-political forces. We invite ethnographically-grounded papers addressing these themes and questions within the wide variety of religious traditions in the Middle East.