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Producing the Middle East: New Directions in Regional Media and Politics (Day 2 – March 26)

Emir of Kuwait at podium, Child at protest, Women with newspapers

Panel 3: Mediating the Sacred

Friday March 26, 2021 1:00pm – 2:15pm


Marwan Kraidy: Islamic State Media and the Age of Pyropolitics

Yasmin Moll: The Idea of Islamic Media: The Qur’an and the Decolonization of Mass Communication

Bilge Yesil: Mediating Muslim Victimhood: An Analysis of Religion and Populism in AKP’s Global Communication

Moderator: Melani McAlister

Panel 4: The Politics of the Popular

Friday March 26, 2021 2:30pm – 3:45pm


Niki Akhavan: Spies Among Us: Justifying the Security State in Popular Iranian Media

Rayya El Zein: Sot Ramallah: Tracing Trap in Palestine

Heather Jaber: Suspicion and pleasure, Hidden Worlds and Hell Houses: Restaging the moral panic in transnational Arab media

Moderator: Elliott Colla


  • Marwan Kraidy is Dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar, the Anthony Shadid Chair in Global Media, Politics and Culture at Northwestern, and Contributing Editor at Current History. Previously he was the Founding Director of the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication, Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania, where he was also Anthony Shadid Chair and Associate Dean for Administration. His major works are Hybridity, or the Cultural Logic of Globalization (Temple, 2005), Reality Television and Arab Politics: Contention in Public Life (Cambridge, 2010), and The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative Insurgency in the Arab World (Harvard, 2016), which received four major prizes. He has received Guggenheim, NEH and ACLS fellowships. This project was funded by a 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He tweets @MKraidy

  • Yasmin Moll is an anthropologist of religion and media with a focus on the Middle East. Her upcoming book explores Islamic television channels in the revolutionary Egypt of the 2011 uprising. Her recent journal articles have focused on subtitling on Islamic television as a form of critique (Public CultureOpens in a new window), on what debates over new forms of Islamic media reveal about shifting theological evaluations of the religious and the secular (Cultural AnthropologyOpens in a new window), and on how the conceptual history of Islamic media provincializes Euro-American decolonizing projects (International Journal of Middle East Studies)Opens in a new window. Her research and writing has been supported by numerous grants and fellowships, including from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright Commission, the Henry Luce Foundation and the American Council on Learned Societies.

  • Bilge Yesil is Associate Professor of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island, and Faculty of Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her research interest is in global media and communication with a particular focus on Turkey and the Middle East; global internet policies, online surveillance and censorship. She is the author of Video Surveillance: Power and Privacy in Everyday Life and Media in New Turkey: The Origins of an Authoritarian Neoliberal State. She is also a co-editor of the forthcoming Handbook of Media and Culture in the Middle East.

  • Melani McAlister Melani McAlister is Professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University. A cultural historian focused on the US in the world, she has recently published The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals (Oxford, 2018). She is also co-editor of volume 4 of the forthcoming Cambridge History of America and the World. Her other books include Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and US Interests in the Middle East (Univ. of California, 2005, o. 2001) and the forthcoming co-edited volume, Global Faith, Worldly Power.

  • Niki Akhavan is an assistant professor of media studies at the Catholic University of America. Her research interests include new media and transnational political and cultural production; international cinema and national identity; state sponsored and oppositional propaganda; documentary and social change; post-colonial and critical theory; Iranian cultural studies. She is the author of Electronic Iran: The Cultural Politics of an Online Evolution (Rutgers, 2013).

  • Rayya El Zein is a cultural ethnographer and scholar of performance and media in the Middle East and diasporas. Her multi-sited research focuses on the embodied aesthetics of live performances and activist practices, while exploring the cultural politics of contemporary media debates. Her interdisciplinary work rethinks representations of Arab and Muslim youth and proposes different models of subjectivity and agency attuned to lived experiences in the contemporary Middle East.

  • Heather Jaber is a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania where she is also a doctoral fellow at the Center for Advanced Research for Global Communications (CARGC). She also holds an M.A. in media studies from the American University of Beirut (AUB). As a doctoral candidate, she analyzes moral panics in the Arab world, focusing on the role of particular emotions and affects in the study of geopolitics and popular culture. She draws on religious studies and theories of affect to understand the economies of pleasure and shame which power practices of exposure. She is interested in practices of exposure and the way that spectators are pulled into national spectacles which channel, amplify, and transform publicly felt emotions and affects. She has published work in Critical Studies in Media Communication, The International Journal of Communication (IJoC), and Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research.

  • Elliott Colla is Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. He is author of Conflicted Antiquities: Egyptology, Egyptomania, Egyptian Modernity, and essays on modern Arab literature, culture and politics. He has translated works of contemporary Arabic literature, including Ibrahim Aslan’s novel, The Heron, Idris Ali's Poor, Ibrahim al-Koni's Gold Dust, and Rab‘i al-Madhoun's The Lady from Tel Aviv. The television adaptation of his 2014 novel, Baghdad Central, is streaming on Hulu.