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Arab TV-Audiences

Negotiating Religion and Identity

Edited By Ehab Galal

Today the relations between Arab audiences and Arab media are characterised by pluralism and fragmentation. More than a thousand Arab satellite TV channels alongside other new media platforms are offering all kinds of programming. Religion has also found a vital place as a topic in mainstream media or in one of the approximately 135 religious satellite channels that broadcast guidance and entertainment with an Islamic frame of reference. How do Arab audiences make use of mediated religion in negotiations of identity and belonging? The empirical based case studies in this interdisciplinary volume explore audience-media relations with a focus on religious identity in different countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, and the United States.
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Maghrebi audiences: Mapping the divide between Arab sentiment, Islamic belonging and political praxis

Introduction

Extract



This chapter attempts to illustrate the ways in which the shift towards Arab satellite television has re/opened a number of questions related to identification, identity affiliation and belonging. Indeed, the advent of satellite television in the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria) has generated a number of new practices and has led to new identity affiliations, which call for careful analysis due to their impact on the ways people negotiate their beliefs, bring forth their identity affiliations (particularly their Arab and Islamic belonging) and define how to live together. This and other new communication technologies compel us to reflect on the ways identity affiliations are expressed and shaped. I draw on the work of various authors who view identity not as much as a starting point defined by an origin, but rather as multiple stations that the individual takes, or is compelled to take, while dealing with crossroad encounters in his or her daily life (Deleuze & Guatari 1980; Bayart 1996). In his seminal article, ‘Ethnicity and Identity,’ S. Hall (1991) gives preference to the term ‘identification’ over ‘identity.’ The processual functioning of the former prevents any pretention of a given fixed origin, and more importantly, precludes assigning and imposing identity to groups and individuals. This argument, which has gained consensus, is instrumental in supporting my approach toward Maghrebi people and the ways they construct their identity affiliations and belonging in relation to new media technologies.

Few works, if any at all, have been concerned with...

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