[Air-L] New issue of CyberOrient journal published

Vit Sisler vsisler at gmail.com
Mon Apr 4 08:48:27 PDT 2011

(Sorry for cross-posting)

Dear colleagues,

the first issue of the renewed CyberOrient journal resulting from the
collaboration of the Middle East Section of the American
Anthropological Association and the Faculty of Arts of Charles
University in Prague is online.

CyberOrient presents original, peer-reviewed articles and books
reviews on the online representation of any aspect of Middle Eastern
cultures, Islam, the imagined "Orient" and the use and impact of the
internet in the Middle East and Islamic countries.

Vol. 5, Iss. 1, 2011

The Islam-Online Crisis: A Battle of Wasatiyya vs. Salafi Ideologies?
Mona Abdel-Fadil

Islam Online has been one of the most prominent and stable Islamic
websites since it was founded in 1997. However, in March 2010 Islam
Online suffered a major crisis, which has come to be known as 'the
IOL-Crisis'. This is a suitable case for exploring whether multiple
layers of authority are at play in online religious communities. At
the time of the crisis, I was conducting fieldwork with the social
team of IOL-Arabic. This article provides rich ethnographic detail
about the time before, during, and after the crisis – as experienced
by the social team. I outline how the social team made sense of the
crisis through producing crisis-narratives that draw on Islam Online's
institutional narrative. Moreover, I illustrate how narratives about
the crisis gradually shift to alternate explanations, in tact with new
developments of the crisis. I conclude with reflections on what types
of authority were drawn on during the IOL-Crisis.

Overcoming the Digital Divide: The Internet and Political Mobilization
in Egypt and Tunisia
Johanne Kuebler

Comparing the patterns of Internet use for political mobilization in
Egypt and in Tunisia, this article shows how the Internet as a
relative free space can be a vital factor in opening windows and
expanding the realm of what can be said in public. However, the
Internet as such appears not to be sufficient to radically transform
the society as a whole. Instead, the case of Egypt shows how
traditional media such as the press can serve as a bridge to the
general public sphere, helping to operate results of discussions
online and to transform the newly acquired space of discussion into
actual power on the street.

Beyond the Traditional-Modern Binary: Faith and Identity in Muslim
Women’s Online Matchmaking Profiles
Anna Piela

Finding a suitable partner in both diasporic and non-diasporic
settings proves increasingly challenging for young Muslims, especially
those unable or not wanting to search within their kinship networks.
At the same time, religious matchmaking websites are becoming
increasingly common especially among Muslim women. As studies of
Muslim matchmaking sites tend to focus on the ever-popular topic of
the headscarf and its associations in the matchmaking context, a much
more comprehensive study of the specificity of the online religious
identities and self-representation is required. This paper examines a
number of profiles of young Muslim women using online matchmaking
sites and discusses broad themes of faith, ethnicity and identity that
emerge in the analysis.

New Media and Social-political Change in Iran
Mohammad Hadi Sohrabi-Haghighat

The increasing penetration of new communication technologies into
everyday life has attracted a growing interest in the social, economic
and political implications of these technologies. Most studies have
looked at Western democratic societies and the literature on the
developing countries is unfortunately small in comparison. In 2009
Iran witnessed a political upheaval in the aftermath of the
presidential election in which the Internet was utilized effectively
by the political opposition. News and videos of police brutality and
repression were uploaded online, including onto social networking
sites, in what was called the ‘Twitter Revolution’. Expectations rose
on the capacity of new media to bring about democratic change in Iran.
Later developments, however, showed that ‘mouse clicks’ alone do not
produce profound political changes. In this article we look at the
role of the new media and the social and political functions it took
on in the post election period.

e-Islam: the Spanish Public Virtual Sphere
Arturo Guerrero Enterría

The increasing presence of Islamic content in cyberspace has made it
possible for an ever-expanding Muslim public space to be established.
In Spain, institutionalised Islam has found new routes for
communication, information and visibilisation with these new
technologies. However, as this paper will show, its strategy is based
on traditional mass media models of communication, namely the one-way
and one-to-many communication models. This leaves room for other types
of actors to use strategies based on different communication models:
two-way and many-to-many, taking better advantage of the potential in
new information and communication technologies to more easily find a
niche in Spanish Muslim cyberspace.

Book Review: Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace
Vit Sisler

With growing Internet penetration rates and the proliferation of new
media outlets in the Muslim world there is a simultaneously growing
academic interest in possible social and political changes endorsed by
these media. A recent contribution to this rapidly expanding body of
research has been provided by Mohammed El-Nawawy and Sahar Khamis.
They have co-authored a book called Islam Dot Com: Contemporary
Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace, which deals with the virtual Muslim
public sphere and the contestation of and deliberation over religious
authority and Muslim identity online.

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Feel free to forward or post this email online.

All the best,

Vit Sisler

Charles University in Prague
Faculty of Arts & Philosophy
Institute of Information Science and Librarianship
New Media Studies


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