NMIT Working Papers

Working Papers on New Media & Information Technology in the Middle East

Welcome to NMIT Working Papers

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

NMIT, a selection of “working” papers on new media and information technologies in the Middle East, has returned with

  • new data and findings from on-going social science research on uses and impacts of information technologies in work, leisure, education, commerce, media, development, local and regional identities, globalization and transnational ties in the Middle East
  • about changing access to communications, production and consumption of media, the evolving political economy of telecommunications, policy issues, and the cultural registers of information technologies in the countries of the region and the Middle Easts overseas
  • sponsored by the Arab Information Project at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

The goal of NMIT Working Papers is to enhance the circulation of initial findings Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet, Satellite Television, Telecos | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Blogging, Networked Publics and the Politics of Communication: Another Free-Speech Panacea for the Middle East?

Posted by meaningfulconnections on January 31, 2009

Jon W. Anderson

Revised, keynote address  for a conference on “New Horizons: Obama and the Global Media.” Department of Anthropology, Near Eastern Studies, School of Journalism
University of Arizona. Tucson, AZ – 23 January 2009

On December 10, the White House announced that President Bush would “commemorate the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights by meeting with activists who use Internet blogs and new-media technologies to promote freedom in countries with restricted media environments.” Two were from Iran and Egypt. Before celebration of blogging as free speech and ‘citizen journalism’ disappoints, like the Web in the 1990s or television in the 1950s, I want to consider how we might place a sounder social anthropology under media-minded constructions. How might such activities be grounded in what research shows about networked communication generally and specifically with globalizing media? As interest in global media turns to blogging, my concerns here are two. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Globalization, Democracy, the Internet and Arabia

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 15, 2008

Jon W. Anderson (Catholic University of America; CCAS Research Associate)
Revised from a talk given at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, 15 April 2007.

Democracy is the occasional necessity of deferring to the opinions of other people.
-Winston Churchill

In the 1990s, the notion of globalization as the macroscopic conception of contemporary change arrived with a primarily economic emphasis popularized through books like The Twilight of Sovereignty by Walter Wriston,[1] retired CEO of Citicorp, and a penumbra of celebrations from the management world. Through think tanks, it became the doctrine de jour for theorizing the end of the Cold War that updated belief in superiority of markets over planned economies to a more contemporary justification for expansion of open markets beyond bond-trading, where Wriston found it. Globalization seemed to predict what neoliberalism preached; so it is not surprising that searches for globalization moved into additional realms that liberalism had long privileged as drivers of socio-political change in addition to the political-economic.

Among these ‘higher order’ domains are media; and by the mid-1990s much attention had come to focus on new media, particularly of the Internet, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet, Telecos | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Development and Decision-Making in Arab SatelliteTV

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Naomi Sakr, University of Westminster
Edited transcript of a contribution to the workshop on New Media and the Reconstruction of Popular Culture in the Arab World, Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. May 17, 2006

In this talk I plan to focus on decision-making in Arab satellite TV as a way of assessing some of the ways in which it is developing. As a point of entry I will start with a little anecdote about how decisions get made in one rather exceptional set of circumstances. It comes from an article Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Print Press, Satellite Television, State Television | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cyberspace and the United Arab Emirates: Searching for Tunes in the Air

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Timothy N. Walters (Zayed University, Dubai, UAE) and Lynne Masel Walters (Texas A&M University)
Paper delivered at the Communication Technology and Policy Division, AEJM, August 2002

ABSTRACT: The United Arab Emirates is attempting to carve a piece of the future out its desert by erecting Internet City on the main road connecting the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This effort is fraught with contradictions. Emiratis are eager for the businesses and jobs that they expect to pull out of cyberspace. Yet, they are reluctant to make social and cultural changes. Policy makers are finding it difficult to deal with the competing demands of traditional religion, culture, and society on the one hand and modern freedom, information interchange and globalization on the other. How they resolve the conflict will determine whether the UAE and its sister countries on the Arabian Peninsula will join the new world or be buried in the old. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

New Media and U.S. Foreign Policy

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

William A. Rugh
Based on remarks delivered at workshop on New Media and the Reconstruction of Popular Culture in the Arab World. Georgetown University Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies. May 17, 2006.

During the course of the past 15 years, major changes have taken place in Arab media, principally with the emergence of Arab satellite television. Prior to 1990, almost all Arab radio and television channels were government monopolies, and most print media were under various forms of direct and indirect government influence. Arab journalists observed written laws, most of which contained provisions allowing state control of media content one way or another. They also observed unwritten taboos, and many practiced self-censorship. For many Arabs, the only alternatives to media dominated by their governments were foreign broadcasters such as the BBC, VOA & Radio Monte Carlo. The most important exception was found in Lebanon, where the political system fostered newspapers representing a variety of different views. But the electronic media tended to be very uniform and controlled in each country. [1]

That situation began to change in the early 1990s as Arab satellite television stations were established, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet, Satellite Television, State Television | Leave a Comment »

Convergence, Next Phase of the Information Revolution

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Jon W. Anderson, Catholic University of America

Revised version of a contribution to the workshop on New Media and the Reconstruction of Popular Culture in the Arab World. Georgetown University Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies.  May 17, 2006

Excitement over the revolutionary potentials of new media and information technologies in the Middle East that accompanied the advent of the Internet, satellite television and mobile phones in the 1990s focused on them as alternatives.  New technologies, alternative channels, and indications of alternative political and other discourses breaking into the public suggested transformation of a public sphere, in the main organized institutionally, not only with new voices but also new people.  The boundary-busting potentials of NMIT were seen first in terms of alternatives by those who welcomed them and by those with reservations.  Indeed, reservations – moral, cultural, political anxieties over new information and communications technologies and new media – seemed to confirm their status primarily as alternatives.

Time and experience have outrun this paradigm, however.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet, Satellite Television, Telecos | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Negotiating Nationhood on the Net: The Case of the Turcomans and Assyrians of Iraq

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Hala Fattah, Royal Institute of Interfaith Studies, Amman.
Prepared for Going Native on the Net: Indigenous Cyberactivism and Virtual Diasporas over the World Wide Web, edited by Kyra Landzelius (forthcoming from Routledge) … November 2001 .

A central argument that has swirled around the contours of the Iraqi nation from its inception in the 1920s has migrated to the Internet. The argument pits the legitimacy of Iraq as a nation-state against that of a whole host of different “national” communities settled within the modern state. The claim has been Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Internet and the State: The Rise of Cyberdemocracy in Revolutionary Iran

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Babak Rahimi, European University Institute, Florence.
Paper delivered at the ISA Conference, Brisbane, Australia. Rev: January 2003.

It was not long ago, in the not so long history of information and communication technology (ICTs), that the Internet was hailed as an emerging new democratic medium to undermine authoritarian regimes. Whether considering the increase in competence of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on a global scale or the effect of information on local politics, cyberspace, understood as a digitally constituted means of communication, provided an exciting new frontier where political power manifested itself in a radical democratic way. Such cyber adventures into a virtual horizon anticipated Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

The Digital Revolt: Resistance & Agency on the Net

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Will Taggart, University of Arkansas
Adapted from a paper delivered at a symposium on “Indigenous Cyber-Activism and Virtual Diasporas over the World Wide Web. Gothenburg, Sweden. June 9, 2001.

I would like to open with a vignette taken from anarchist philosopher Hakim Bey:

“In the late 18th or early 19th century a group of runaway slaves and serfs fled from Kentucky into the Ohio Territory, where they inter-married with Natives and formed a tribe – red, white & black – called the Ben Ishmael tribe. The Ishmaels (who seem to have been Islamically inclined) followed an annual nomadic route through the territory, hunting & fishing, and finding work as tinkers and minstrels. They were polygamists, and drank no alcohol. Every winter they returned to their original settlement, where a village had grown.

“But eventually the US Govt. opened the Territory to settlement, and the official pioneers arrived. Around the Ishmael village a town began to spring up, called Cincinnati. Soon it was a big city. But Ishmael village was still there, engulfed & surrounded by “civilization.” Now it was a slum. “Hasn’t something similar happened to the Internet? The original freedom-loving hackers & guerrilla informationists, the true pioneers of cyberspace, are still there. But they have been surrounded by a vastness of virtual “development,” and reduced to a kind of ghetto. True, for a while the slums remain colorful – one can go there for a “good time,” strum a banjo, spark up a romance. Folkways survive. One remembers the old days, the freedom to wander, the sense of openness. But History has gone… somewhere else. Capital has moved on.” (Bey 1996)

On October 6, 2000, a group of Israeli hackers succeeded in shutting down the website of the Hizbollah, setting off an international cyber-conflict unprecedented in its scale and sophistication (iDefense 2001). Various transnational groups of hackers and “defacers” split along nationalistic, religious, and ethnic lines have joined the conflict in reaction to competing media accounts of the most recent uprising in the West Bank and Gaza, alternately known as the second or Al-Aqsa Intifada. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Invention (Ibtidaa’) or Convention (Ittibaa’)? Islamist Cassettes & Tradition in Yemen

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

W. Flagg Miller, University of Michigan
Paper delivered at the American Anthropological Association, November 2000.

In the spring of 1998, I was walking on the grounds of the University of Aden, in southern Yemen, just after classes had been let out. I went into a small university coffee-shop, and found this pamphlet laying on the glass shelves, free for the taking. [Show slide.] “Interview with a Famous Personality” (muqaabilah ma’ shakhsiyyah ma`ruufah). The alleged interviewer asks a series of questions to this “Famous Personality” in order to produce his “i.d. card”:

Name: “Mr. Satellite”. (And here is a picture of Mr. Satellite, busy at work reducing a fairly contemporary urban Yemeni house to rubble.)
Birth Place: “The lands of the Jews and Nazarenes (Christians)”
Address: “Atop the rooves of many Muslim’s houses”
Principle Occupation: “Undermining the morals of Muslims, and diverting them from their religion.” Then a verse from a chapter in the Qur’an warns those who might stray of the bond between the true believer and God.

Debate over the impact of satellite dishes in Yemen has become heated in recent years. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Music Tapes | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »