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Money, Pride, and Soul-Searching
Author: Yuting Wang

Abstract

In this article, I examine a corpus of texts that address the 1973 war; these texts cover the period from 1981 to 2011, marking the beginning and end of Hosni Mubarak’s rule. Utilizing Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), I explore how Mubarak’s regime employed the war to legitimize its power and defend its policies by deploying longstanding culturally-embedded ‘macro themes’. These macro themes refer to the war as an overwhelming and undisputed ‘Egyptian victory’ and, more significantly, they portray Mubarak himself as ‘war personified/war personalized’. The analysis of linguistic and extra-linguistic features in al-Ahram newspaper (the mouthpiece of the state), among other media texts on the war, show how the discursive construction was made consistent, coherent and resonant in a managed context that characterized the political and media landscapes. Depending on unique access to those who produced, edited and even censored the texts under analysis, this method unravels a complex set of cultural messages and conventions about the war, and fills a lacuna in the literature by offering insight into the deliberate and well-coordinated process of shaping and reshaping a specific discourse for a specific purpose.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Between Churchification and Securitization
In Islam in Post-communist Eastern Europe: Between Churchification and Securitization Egdūnas Račius reveals how not only the governance of religions but also practical politics in post-communist Eastern Europe are permeated by the strategies of churchification and securitization of Islam. Though most Muslims and the majority of researchers of Islam hold to the view that there may not be church in Islam, material evidence suggests that the representative Muslim religious organizations in many Eastern European countries have been effectively turned into ecclesiastical-bureaucratic institutions akin to nothing less than ‘national Muslim Churches’. As such, these ‘national Muslim Churches’ themselves take an active part in securitization, advanced by both non-Muslim political and social actors, of certain forms of Islamic religiosity.

Abstract

Sharq al-Adna, or the Near East Arab Broadcasting Station, was a covert, British radio station that broadcasted in Arabic from 1941 to 1956, at first from Palestine before moving to Cyprus in 1948, where it posed as a commercial station but, in reality, was controlled by British Special Intelligence Services until the military commandeered it at the time of Suez. In the intervening fifteen years, its mainly Arab staff, loosely supervised by a small number of British personnel, broadcasted a mixture of music, drama, discussion, educational and religious programs, albeit with a subtle British slant to its news. In this article, which is based on archival sources, including the memoirs of some of those involved and some material originally published in Arabic, the author assesses the station’s contribution to British propaganda efforts in the Middle East and to the development of Arab broadcasting.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

Abstract

In this article I assess the convoluted relationship between Iranian popular musicians and the Western media. Iranian music is generally discussed within a framework of resistance and Iranian musicians are often presented as political ‘revolutionaries’. In this process, many contradictions emerge; musicians crave publicity and recognition, yet resist it in an attempt to present an image of themselves as part of a subversive Iranian ‘underground’, a highly-laden term which in itself is much contested among Iranian musicians. By examining specific media representations, interviewing musicians, and portraying them in an Iranian film marketed toward Western audiences, Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009) illustrates how Iranian musicians exist in a multi-faceted world, beyond protest and defiance. Musicians actively participate in their representation in the media by simultaneously perpetuating certain collective images and attempting to portray a unique sense of self-identity.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Author: Anna Vanzan

Abstract

In September 2013 the Iranian authorities inaugurated the Holy Defense Museum (Muzeh-i Dafa’-i Moqaddas) in the capital Tehran that also hosts a Martyrs’ Museum (Muzeh-i Shuhada) built in the early 1980s and later renovated. The new museum is part of a grandiose project to commemorate the sacrifice of Iranians during the war provoked by the Iraqi regime (1980–1988). The museum encompasses various aspects of the arts (visual, cinematic, photographic, literary, etc.) shaped to remember and celebrate the martyrs of that war. The 1979 Iranian Revolution and the following Iran-Iraq War produced an enormous amount of visual material; works produced during this crucial period that disrupted the balance of power, both regionally and internationally, constitute an important part of Iran’s recent history. Visual materials produced in that period not only constitute a collective graphic memory of those traumatic years, they also revolutionized Iranian aesthetics. The Islamic Republic of Iran (hereafter IRI) establishment has a long experience in molding contemporary art for political purposes and the Holy Defense Museum represents the zenith of this imposing project. In this paper, I present an analytic and descriptive reading of the museum in light of my direct experience visiting the museum, and I explore its role in maintaining the collective memory of the Iran-Iraq conflict, in celebrating the revolution and in aestheticizing war.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Author: Niloo E. Sarabi

Abstract

In this article, I undertake a critical analysis of Marzieh Meshkini’s 2000 directorial debut, The Day I Became a Woman, which won multiple awards at the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals, and I investigate the manner in which Meshkini’s visual aesthetics enable her to enrich vital debates about the veil, gender socialization and social mobility as well as female pleasure and jouissance in contemporary Iranian society and abroad. Through a close reading of the figurative film language and innovative cinematography in Meshkini’s film, including its novel play with different temporalities and its artistic approach to mise-en-scène and framing of various shots, I examine the extent to which Meshkini succeeds in conveying her compelling social message in terms of Iranian women’s experiences, more than two decades after the Islamic revolution.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

Abstract

Solmaz Sharif’s debut poetry collection, Look (2016), has been hailed by critics for its formal experimentation and as a searing indictment of war. Using various words from the 2007 Department of Defense (DOD) Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, Sharif highlights the sterility of the official vocabulary of the US military machine and the ‘war on terrorism’. The poet juxtaposes the DOD’s lexicon with reflections on personal relationships, family, love and loss along with traces of the multiple sites of home of an Istanbul-born, Iranian-American poet. In this essay, I argue that throughout the collection, the poet engages in a subversive, translative act; Sharif presents an intralingual mode of translation in which her poems destabilize the seeming neutrality and sanitizing effect of military vocabulary by consistently juxtaposing it with representations of the effects and consequences of violence, as well as images of intimacy, in order to articulate an anti-war stance.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

Abstract

In an interview, the Iranian painter Ahmad Esfandiari (1922–2012) related that he witnessed a particularly difficult time at the beginning of his career, when he did not know what direction his work might take. Slowly he overcame this fear of the unknown and discovered ‘the pleasure of uncharted paths’. But the critics did not see any social value in his work (Mojabi 1998: 155). In his testimony, Ahmad Esfandiari described the tumultuous 1940s, during which an innovative pictorial style called ‘New Painting’ appeared in Iran. Contrary to popular opinion, contemporary Iranian painting did not begin in the 1960s with the Saqqakhaneh group of artists. Its origins can be found in the 1940s. In this article, conceived as a manifesto, I introduce the first generation of New Painting artists and I argue against a canon that has overlooked them in spite of their innovative accomplishments and profound impact.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication