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Bettina Gräf (Habilitationsprojekt)

From Print Media to Talk Show. Three Generations of New Media Practices in the Arab Regions

In the course of the Arab revolutions that took place between 2010 and 2012, many commentators spoke of Twitter and Facebook revolutions, so much so that one might have thought that the new communication technologies available in the region since the beginning of the 2000s were the main cause of the uprisings. Walter Armbrust characterised this approach in 2012 in terms of the technological determinism and presentism of Arab media studies. Following this, my approach is rather different. By investigating three generations of media practices in Egypt I merge the two perspectives of print and electronic culture.


I concentrate on the interplay of specific media technologies and social action from a historical perspective, starting with the introduction of paperbacks and the foundation of new publishing houses in the Arab regions in the 1940s. The developments within Arab media industries since the late 1980s, especially national and transnational satellite TV, serve as a focal point to help understand the dramatic transformations in Arab and transregional mediascapes.
The impact and meaning of each new media technology can only be understood in its specific context, the time and space in which it emerges. Each medium has its own specificities and its own momentum for supporting claims by political and social actors, but only for limited periods of time.
Electronic culture is most often associated with “the emergence of the screen as the central point of the communicative and aesthetic experience”, and thus with the blurring of boundaries on many levels, including those of the nation and nation-state (Druckery 1996).


My interest is to understand the links between political and social claims, media technologies, and actual social change within certain (moving) territories. The slogan “From print media to talk show” refers to the different practices of publishing and the extent to which one is visible/audible in public culture through time. Paperbacks thus relate to the idea of print culture, and TV talk shows to our notions of electronic culture and media industries.

 


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