(Call for Papers proposed by Sara Tafakori, LSE and Sabiha Allouche, SOAS for Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication - MJCC.)
This call for papers responds to the affective turn in media and cultural studies and addresses the relative inattention to the mediation of emotions and affect in the Middle East. It thus invites contributions which investigate the relation between digital technologies and the politics and cultures of emotions and affectivities in the Middle East, especially papers which problematize translocal and transnational mediations. It invites explorations of the ways in which the (im)possibilities of emotions and of embodied ‘being’ in the region have been mediated, shaped, restricted and challenged, through 1) historicizing and locating the distinctive affective epistemologies of coloniality; and 2) examining the locatedness of emotionalities across and/or within borders, and what such positions of dividedness or convergence imply for scholars, often working within what is branded as ‘area studies’, with all its political and academic implications of peripherality (Mikdashi and Puar 2016).
Utilising emotion as a lens, we suggest, yields new insights into the relation of the macro-political to everyday life in global media spaces. We see emotions, as practices and subjectivities, as operating differentially across geographical and racialized and gendered contexts. For us, emotions are embedded in particular histories, shaping who we identify with and who we are less likely to identify with, framing the potentialities of forging solidarities, and whose bodies are and are not seen as vulnerable. We are therefore interested in approaches which reflect on and problematise ideas around emotions as universal (Lutz and Abu-Lughod 1990, Pedwell 2014) and which are situated within the broad framework of decolonising affect studies. This special issue poses the question: to what extent is the ‘turn to affect’ predicated upon an orientation towards Western and Eurocentric epistemes? To put it another way, how far have Middle Eastern societies and media, and those of the Global South more generally, been excluded from affect and emotion studies?
We propose, then, that although the ‘affective turn’ has been discussed as a phenomenon across the humanities, social sciences and sciences for the past decade or more, consistent intersectional and postcolonial interventions are needed. In this vein, we construe steady feminist engagements with affect and emotion as developing indispensable perspectives, which, at their best, pay particular attention to intersections of the affective with embodied, gendered, racialized, and classed subjectivities, contexts and histories in their relation to structures of power. As Anu Koivunen points out, for feminists, ‘[a]ffects have become an object of interest both as articulations of culture, language, and ideology and as a force field that questions scholarly investments in those terms’ (Koivunen, 2010, p.9).
Where the Middle East is concerned, well-known studies around the uprisings of 2011 situated emotions of outrage and hope on social media in relation to optimistic teleologies of modernisation (Castells 2012, 2015; Papacharissi, 2015). Yet recent, detailed studies of social media usage in the MENA countries, particularly in the wake of the crushing of the uprisings of 2011 and the repression of the Iranian ‘Green Movement’ of 2009 (Rahimi 2011, Akhavan 2013), identify widespread patterns of fear, distrust and disillusionment among ordinary citizens in relation to social media and the potential or actuality of the recuperation of digital spaces of contestation by the state (Belghazi and Moudden 2016, El-Issaei 2016, Lynch et al 2016, Zaid 2016, Moreno-Almeida and Banaji 2019). Hence, ‘media affects’ or ‘affective media’ have become objects of scholarly interest most often in relation to broadly identifiable patterns of revolt and reaction in the region, rather than, for example, to emotional narratives of the ordinary and the ‘banal’.
It is here, we suggest, that a refocusing on mediatised spaces of political debate, firstly, around emotions as everyday online practices, and secondly, in their relation to affective/emotional ‘communities’ may yield deeper insights into the relation between politics and collective attachments and belongings, what Benedict Anderson calls the ‘affective bonds of nationalism’ (1991, p.64), and the dynamics between online and offline communities and their performative identifications (see Ahmed 2004; Ferreday 2011; Heaney and Stam 2014; Hutchison, 2014, 2016; Edensor 2002).
We encourage submissions which explore aspects of these and other problematics of affect and mediation, through bringing to bear a critical attention to issues of racialized and gendered inequality, to questions of universality and particularity, and the relations between local, national and global in the circulation of affect on media networks in the region. We particularly encourage contributions from junior and early career researchers.
Instructions to Authors/Tentative Timeline
- Extended abstracts (500 words) to be submitted by 15 July 2019. Abstracts must clearly state the author’s central question, main contribution, and methodology.
- Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by 7 August 2019 and asked to submit a 7000 words manuscript by 24 December 2019, to be sent for peer review (double-blind).
- The provisional date for the publication of the special issue is July 2020.
- If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org