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Arab TV-Audiences

Negotiating Religion and Identity

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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Religious media as a cultural discourse: The views of the Arab diaspora in London



This chapter aims to contribute to the debate surrounding media as a cultural practice, focusing on Islamic channels and how they might contribute to enforcing the cultural identity of a selected sample of Arab diaspora in London. The term diaspora here is not a term that can be applied to any dispersed population who may be bound by the same ethnic identity. Rather, diaspora can denote a process that binds several communities around the world who engage in building an imagined community based on their ethnic or religious identity (see e.g. Brubaker 2005; Cohen 1997). This process of building a certain diasporan identity is communicated through debates about the characteristics of this identity and what it means for these communities across the world. Diaspora can be defined as ‘any minority community within a multi-ethnic polity’ and this community seeks ‘to reproduce inter-generationally a sense of identification within this group…Diaspora suggests a commitment to maintaining a sense of roots that lie outside of the country where one lives’ (Cheng and Katz 1998:72). Thus, diaspora is usually seen to rest on two coordinates: homeland orientation and boundary maintenance (Brubaker 2005). Muslim communities provide a good case in point in analysing diaspora communities of Muslims scattered all over the world, who are bound by one religious identity.

Media here plays a crucial role in articulating this identity through the subjective narratives of members of these communities. In these narratives, subjects engage in the process of (re-)identifying...

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