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Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies

Call for Conference Papers: Rethinking Media Through the Middle East

Organized by the Media Studies Program at the American University of Beirut and the Arab Council for the Social Sciences
American University of Beirut
January 12 & 13, 2017

Within the field of media studies, Middle Eastern media is often treated as a domain of interest only to area specialists. As Edward Said argued in Orientalism, the region popularly known as the Middle East is not peripheral but integral to European history, culture, and civilization. This subversive insight, however, has largely been treated as secondary to foundational claims in media theory. If knowledge about Middle Eastern media usually serves only to supplement dominant frameworks and paradigms, we are interested in thinking about the ways it can instead extend, qualify, or even explode them.
‘Rethinking Media Through the Middle East’ aims to create an interdisciplinary conversation to challenge this deficit. Taking a broad view of the Middle East that incorporates the Arabic-speaking world, Turkey, Iran, and various ethnic minority groups, this conference asks how the Middle East might serve to disrupt, interrupt, subvert, challenge, or transform our understanding of what media are and do. We are especially interested in papers that shift our focus to south-south comparisons and relationships or that challenge how we theorize US and European media. This conference aims to explore the study of media as an independent field, but one that interconnects, influences, and is influenced by other intellectual formations and traditions.

The following is a partial list of topics that papers might explore in relation to the conference theme:

Media and Political theory
-mediated populism
-charisma and authority
-critical perspectives on humanitarianism
-biopolitics, sovereignty, and governmentality
-queer theory and the state

Colonialism, imperialism, and historicizing global media
-early cinema
-transnational circulation before neoliberalism
-MidEast wars and news media
-postcolonial theory, decolonial theory, and critical race theory
-diasporic, migrant, and refugee communities

Area studies, and media and communication studies
-area studies and the history of the social sciences
-contemporary debates in social and cultural theory

Research methodologies
-activist research
-feminist methodologies
-archival access
-language and fieldwork

Questions of materiality 
-political economy, liberalization, and the state
-global infrastructures and the Middle East
-media archaeology beyond the study of design and invention
-economies of repair and breakdown
-affect, the senses, and technology

Other topics
-legacies of post-structuralism
-war, cultural memory, and the archive
-digital media and sexual cultures
-media studies futures

We invite abstract submissions (300 words) on the variety of topics listed above, or other topics that engage with the conference theme. Submissions should include author name(s), affiliation, e-mail address, paper title, and a brief bio, and be emailed to no later than July 15.

Decisions on acceptance of abstracts will be communicated to individual authors by August 15.

Modest travel subsidies may be available. Applicants should identify in their email if they would like to be considered.

For further information, please contact the organizers, the Media Studies Program at the American University of Beirut at


Media Studies Research Design Workshop for Graduate Students

Organized by:

The Media Studies Program at AUB and the Arab Council for the Social Sciences


Saturday, January 14, 2017


Graduate students in Media Studies (or whose research encompasses media) from across the Arab region

Confirmed Senior Scholars:

Marwan Kraidy, Helga Tawil-Souri, Tarik Sabry, Michael Curtin, and Joseph Oliver Boyd-Barret

This one-day workshop will give MA students at the thesis proposal stage and beyond, and early PhD students, the opportunity to work with senior scholars to develop their research design and methodology. Students will explore the close relationship between formulating a research question, defining an appropriate method of research, and forming an argument about research findings.

The workshop will consist of two parts. The first half of the day will be oriented to general issues related to designing and refining a research project in media studies. Students will be grouped according to the stage of their project. The second part of the workshop will involve discussion of participant’s projects in small groups and on an individual basis, through detailed feedback from senior scholars and other workshop participants.

To Apply:
Submit a 2 to 3 page detailed abstract, detailing your primary research topic, questions, and method.  Abstracts should also clarify what stage the project is at (drafting a proposal, beginning to write, or first draft).

When you apply, please also include the following information in the body of the email:

Personal Information

Name (Family Name, First Name):

Current Residence:


Degrees Awarded (with year):

Current Institutional Affiliation (MA/ PhD level):


Expected year of Graduation :


Deadline for submissions is September 2, 2016. Selection decisions are announced by September 30, 2016.

Accepted applicants will be required to circulate a full draft of their proposal or thesis chapter by December 15, 2016. Conveners will circulate a reading list in advance of the workshop.

Please note: This workshop is open only to MA/early PhD students from the Arab region. While the workshop will be in English, we will accept abstracts and papers written in Arabic.

Accepted applicants will also be invited to audit a conference on the topic ‘Rethinking Media through the Middle East,’ also organized by the workshop coordinators, held at AUB during the two days before the workshop.

Funding for accepted applicants from outside Lebanon (airfare and hotel) will be provided by ACSS.

Applications and queries should be sent to

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