Dr Farmanfarmaian writes an article entitled Trump and Iran: Scenarios of escalation, published by Al Jazeera, and in which she discusses "Washington's ill-conceived ploys, [arguing it] could intensify the conflict between Iran and the US, [when] one smart move could save it".
Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian and General Elazar Stern speak at the invitation of the Cambridge Middle East and North Africa Forum - MENAF
MENAF, a non-partisan and independent student organisation, received General Stern in Cambridge for an exclusive interview with academic and expert Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian, on February 2, 2017.
Annenberg School of Communication - University of Pennsylvania, publishes Dr Farmanfarmaian's report as part of their Iran Media Program
The Annenberg School for Communication's Iran Media Program publishes Dr Farmanfarmaian's timely report entitled Iran's Rhetoric Aggression: Instrumentalizing Foreign Policy Power through the Media.
Your comments and questions are welcome on our Twitter @U_Cambridge.
University of Cambridge - Al Jazeera Center for Studies Media Project Conference held in Doha, January 7-8, 2017
On January 7-8, 2017, the final Conference for the Media in Political Transition in the southern Mediterranean was held in Doha, the Al Jazeera headquarters.
The Conference brought together the eight academics from Morocco, and seven from Turkey, who make up the scholarly team for this second tranche of the research project.
Presided over by Director and Primary Investigator of the project, Dr. Roxane Farmanfarmaian, and by the Director of the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, Dr. Salah Eddin Elzein, the proceedings were moderated by Al Jazeera News anchors, and academic papers received commentary from respondents drawn from the academic community in Doha, including Georgetown University of Foreign Service in Qatar, and Northwestern University in Qatar. Read the Project's Findings here.
A celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Al Jazeera Center for Studies coincided with the conference, during which Dr. Roxane Farmanfarmaian received an award for service.
Please click here to view the Al-Jazeera Arabic news report on the Conference, in Arabic.
The Forum to be held on April 10, 2017 under the title "Democratic Resilience and the Media: The Effects of Policy and Communication Strategies on Community Cohesion in Times of Threat" will discuss how the media empower or exclude different citizen groups at times of crisis and what this implies for democratic resilience. Policies that protect freedom of expression, freedom of religious practice and freedom from hate speech all draw from the Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, the freedom to practice any one of these rights entails restrictions on practising any other, and thus engages aspects of policy. Social trust in the media’s ability to balance competing claims through distributed empowerment is a hallmark of democratic practice during periods of peace. However, when society is threatened, in what ways does the media’s balance waver, and in so doing, how does it erode democratic practice?
This Forum, based on research produced by the University of Cambridge-Al Jazeera Media Project over the past three years, will interrogate the relationship of media to policy, and the implications on community culture, social cohesion, and citizen fear in the UK.
The workshop will include scholars at the University of Cambridge, policymakers, media professionals, and representatives of faith communities. The Forum will also be part of the annual Philomathia Symposium in November 2017 (http://www.ssrp.cshss.cam.ac.uk/).
MPhil Candidate Nikta Daijavad, under the auspices of CIRMENA, organises first Iran Reading Group meeting in POLIS
On Monday 28th November 2016, the first Iran Reading Group meeting took place in POLIS to discuss Roger Hardy's 'The Poisoned Well' chapter on Iran. MPhil Candidate Nikta Daijavad, in conjunction with CIRMENA, will be organising regular meetings for the group. For further information, please contact email@example.com.
Final Conference in Doha, January 7-8, 2017 of the University of Cambridge - Al Jazeera Center for Studies Media Project
Principal Investigator, Dr Farmanfarmaian, and Director of AJ Center for Studies, Dr Salah Eddin Elzein, will host the final conference of the University of Cambridge - Al Jazeera Center for Studies Media Project (January 7-8, 2017, Doha), which will coincide with the 10th anniversary of AJ Center for Studies.
Academic teams from Morocco, Turkey and Cambridge totalling 14 scholars will be presenting to media experts and journalists drawn from the entire region. Papers will be published in The Journal of North African Studies and The International Spectator, in special issues on the media in Morocco and Turkey, and a collected volume will be published later in 2017 by Routledge, and translated and published in Arabic by Al Jazeera.
Twenty years ago, the media landscape was changed forever in the Middle East. On November 1, 1996, Al Jazeera went live and launched its first broadcast.
It has since expanded into a media network with several outlets, including the internet and news channels in multiple languages.
The English-language 24-hours news station Al Jazeera English followed in Nov. 2006.
Dr Farmanfarmaian will be speaking as part of a panel on 'New media, new possibilities, new dangers?' at the Festival of Ideas on Saturday, October 22
'New media, new possibilities, new dangers?'
Does the development of new digital technologies and instant access to the internet provide new opportunities or present new dangers? How can good journalism thrive in these new circumstances? With Professor Jane Singer, Mary Fitzgerald from Open Democracy, Roxane Farmanfarmaian from the University of Cambridge and Buzzfeed’s Luke Lewis.
To book a place, please click here.
Hazem Kandil presents his new book: 'The Power Triangle: Military, Security, and Politics in Regime Change'. ARB, room 119, October 21, 12-2pm
Hazem Kandil, Cambridge University Lecturer in Political Sociology
and Fellow of St Catharine’s College, presents his new book: The Power Triangle: Military, Security, and Politics in Regime Change.
Iran, Egypt, and Turkey all experienced remarkably similar coup-installed regimes in the middle of the twentieth century, and shared comparable state-building ambitions. Despite these similarities, each followed a different trajectory: Iran became an absolutist monarchy that was overthrown from below; Turkey evolved into a limited democracy; and Egypt metamorphosed into a police state. What accounts for this divergence?
Please join us!
October 21, 2016,
Alison Richard Building
Within the framework of the University of Cambridge – Al Jazeera Media Project, Dr Ali Sonay has completed his three month fieldwork on radio in Morocco. The qualitative study involved interviews with taxi drivers, youth, radio owners and programmers as well as relevant journalists, scholars and media regulation authorities. The research was conducted in Rabat, Casablanca, Fez, Meknes, and Tangier. Findings will be made public in project’s concluding conference in Doha in November 2016.
Dr Farmanfarmaian awarded a $3,000 grant from the Center for Global Communication Studies, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
Dr Farmanfarmaian has been awarded a $3,000 grant from the Center for Global Communication Studies, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, to produce a paper entitled: 'Iran’s Rhetoric Aggression: Instrumentalising Foreign Policy Power through the Media.'
The question it poses is: How has Iran mediated its foreign policy instrument of rhetoric aggression to project its power, protect its self-constituted image abroad, deflect attacks on Shi’ism and promote the idea of a strong Islam – and how has this differed in the period before and after the nuclear deal? For further information on the Iran Media Program, please click here.
She has also been invited to participate at the Annenberg-Oxford Summer Institute's Panel on: 'Media Systems, New Technologies, and Socio-Political Change'. This panel provides a comparative examination of the complex ways in which media systems and new communication technologies impact social and political narratives, guide institutional behaviour, form and reform constituencies, and spur or stifle moments of political action.
Panelists will review how the intersection between old media, digital media, and collective organization variably affects the political opportunity structure in established democracies, transitioning states, semi-authoritarian and authoritarian contexts. It will review the avenues for change that new technologies offer within diverging socio-economic and political contexts and challenge certain tropes associated with social media, political change, and "democratization".
Uncomfortable Truths, Unconventional Wisdoms: Women's Perspectives on Violent Extremism and Security Interventions
We are pleased to announce that the Centre for the Study of the International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa (CIRMENA) and the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies co-hosted an extraordinary public talk by Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini and Sussan Tahmasebi, founders of the International Civil Society Action Network, who discussed women’s perspectives on violent extremism and security interventions. Grassroots peacebuilders from Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria were present and provided invaluable insight and testimonies.
The panel addressed the diverse approaches of local women-led organisations to (1) the closing of civil society space as challenge to prevention of extremism, (2) the problems and potential of police, (3) the role of militias and militarisation, and (4) international interventions. The experience shared by participants illustrated the findings of 'Uncomfortable Truths, Unconventional Wisdoms: Women’s Perspectives on Violent Extremism and Security Interventions', the first brief issued by the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) based on consultations with over 70 women peace and rights practitioners in 15 countries across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
Roxane Farmanfarmaian and Ali Sonay's article "What next for the media in Middle East and North Africa?" published by Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera published article by Dr Farmanfarmaian and Ali Sonay entitled:
Al Jazeera Centre for Studies produces Arabic translation of 'Media in Political Transition in Tunisia', published originally in the Journal of North African Studies, December 2014, Volume 19, Issue 5
The Al Jazeera Centre for Studies has produced an Arabic translation of 'Media in Political Transition in Tunisia', published originally in the Journal of North African Studies, December 2014, Volume 19, Issue 5.
For more information on the translation, follow this link.
Second Tranche of Media in Political Transition in Full Swing
The University of Cambridge - Al Jazeera Media Project’s second research programme on media dynamics in Morocco and Turkey had its first conference on December 12th, 2015 at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. The workshop, entitled ‘Media in Political Transition: The cases of Turkey and Morocco’ brought together original research by the project’s two separate academic teams, one based in Morocco, the other in Turkey.
Launched in 2013, the Project’s first research programme focused on media in Tunisia post Arab Uprising. In 2014, the Project was extended significantly, as a result of the generosity of Al Jazeera Media Corporation, enabling two teams of scholars to conduct similar research on media in political transition in Morocco and Turkey.
This mid-study workshop brought our work together for the first time. The purpose of extending this research to Turkey and Morocco was to enable a comparative study of media systems along the breadth of the Mediterranean littoral, based on the same research definitions employed in Tunisia, and following many of the same themes: internet freedom and surveillance, political narrative, social media use, gender issues on television and within the larger public sphere, the professionalism and partisanship of the sector, the rise of Islamic media, and the internal competition of political elites to utilize the media for particularist purposes. Likewise, a thematic focus on three broad areas of investigation, namely, structure (the relationship of the media with laws and practices of government), function (the media as a commercial sector in relation to the market, both private and public), and agency (the media as an instrument of the public square, in terms of audience engagement and the construction of national narratives, including security, identity and religious practice).
The conference was opened with introductory words by Dr. Roxane Farmanfarmaian, the project’s Principal Investigator and Dr. Ezzeddine Abdelmoula the Director of Research at the Al Jazeera Center for Studies.
Professor Bouziane Zaid (Al Akhawayn University) presenting on 'Structure: Media in Political Transition, Morocco'
The panels were designed so that papers from both Turkey and Morocco addressed equivalent topics.
Panel I looked at the media structures in both countries and their historical transformations in the last three decades. They were followed by two papers on the evolution of social media dynamics and their embeddedness into the transitory framework.
Panel II analysed the media’s functional aspects. These were exemplified with two papers on contemporary radio broadcasting and its political and economic potentialities.
Panel III focused on the dimension of agency with case studies examining women talk shows, Islamist newspapers, and representations of ethnic conflict.
The concluding Roundtable aimed at summarising the conference insights and defining a follow-up research agenda. Professor John Naughton’s valuable introduction on the complexity of using theory as an initial method of approaching research questions, particularly when using prevalent concepts in our field, as transition (along the binary democratization-authoritarianism) and hybridity, was used as a chance to engage in the general approach to research questions and the role of theory thereby in our project.
It would be important not to postulate too much into the research questions and approach, thereby assuming possible findings as defining. The civil society-media binary would also be worth questioning, as media can only be meaningful through civil society.
We also agreed on the complex context- involving many variables- in which contemporary media are embedded and thus part of the continuing reproduction of political and socio-economic power relations and conditions.
In terms of organizational next steps an online workshop/roundtable and a mailing list including all participants were suggested in order to continue the discussion.
Yara Alnajjar and Ghassan Abu Hussein both based at the Al Jazeera Center for Studies will be contributing to the research project with a paper on how Al Jazeera has been covering media-related issues since the Arab uprisings in Tunisia, Morocco, and Turkey.
Throughout the conference CIRMENA was tweeting together with the Al Jazeera Center for Studies using the hashtag #CAMAJ2015.
For more information please visit this page.
ESCR impact grants are designed to put research to work, to produce change, new thinking, and to broaden horizons. Received in 2015 by POLIS member and Principal Investigator, Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian, the grant enables Cambridge-generated research on the nexus between free expression, community security, and practices of belief to be shared with British law-makers, faith leaders and representatives from both British and Middle Eastern media, so as to draw out new ideas and understanding for use in policy, reporting and scholarly output.
This project is designed to open up debate on a difficult subject: A debate about freedom of expression and freedom of belief. It is a difficult debate because freedom of expression, freedom of religious practice and freedom from hate speech are all basic human rights. Yet the freedom to practice any one of these rights entails restrictions on practicing any other of these rights. To practice complete freedom of expression, for example, risks impinging on others’ freedom of religious dignity. How then to balance freedoms with protections, rights with limits?
This portal and a day-long workshop scheduled for 28 January 2016 at the House of Lords are designed to build on research conducted at the University of Cambridge and facilitate dialogue around the concept of freedom of expression in a religious context. It links the expertise of three research centres at the University: The Centre for the International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa (CIRMENA), the Woolf Institute of Interfaith Studies and the Centre of Islamic Studies. The approach is interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral, and aims to foster sober debate divorced of emotions. In a world being redefined by technological advancement and globalisation, it is imperative that we build on research to reach an understanding and respect for religious practice. After all, the biggest threat comes from the conversations that never take place.
Find more information on http://www.free-expression.group.cam.ac.uk
The Media Reading Group had a productive Michaelmas term, scheduling meetings for lively discussions about journalism, freedom of expression, and political responsibility.
The first meeting took place in No. 1 Newnham Terrace in Darwin College on October 28, 2015 from 16:30 - 18:30. Our first presenter was Dr Sophie Knowles, who talked about financial media and their failure, not least through collusion, to prepare the public for the 2008 market meltdowns - this being the subject of her PhD.
Our second Media Reading Group session, held on November 17 from 16:30-18:30 in Darwin College, focused on the recent restrictions on and threats to freedom of expression inside Britain itself, in particular the PREVENT strategy and all that it means for the right of universities to host speakers with views that don't subscribe to 'British values', of students and scholars to have the space to think at liberty, and of the media and the academy to investigate and research freely. The following article provided a basis for this discussion: http://bit.ly/1SDMKLq
Our third and final session of the Media Reading Group was held on December 8 from 16:30 - 18:30 in Darwin College. Michael Clark spoke on "Charlie Hebdo and the Arab Shia: Instrumental rhetoric and freedom of expression." Following the attacks on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015, statements were issued by both Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah, and Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist Movement. Yet, when these two seemingly similar Shiite Islamist figureheads spoke about the attacks, each was talking on two distinct levels. Their statements concerned not only those specific and terrible events in faraway lands, but also their own very pressing political dilemmas. Those situations both informed their discourse and represented its secondary-level subject, the statements of each speaker being made in order to advance his interests with respect to those situations. When the rhetoric of Nasrallah and Sadr on the Charlie Hebdo shootings are juxtaposed against prior, seemingly inconsistent statements on other perceived insults to Islam, one can appreciate a striking similarity in how each uses its discourse as an instrument to advance its interests and a fundamental difference in what those specific interests actually are.
For more information regarding the Cambridge Media Reading Group, please feel free to contact Mike Clark (mdc48)
The Tunisian economy is in turmoil. Nearly half of all Tunisians work as vendors in the informal – that is, illegal – economy.
In this ground-breaking new study entitled 'Merchants on the Margins: The political-economy of the Tunisian street', presented at the Alison Richard Building, University of Cambridge, on May 5 2015, Tunisia scholar Dr. L. Michalak drew links between the informal economy and informal politics in this post-Arab Spring state attempting to construct a politics of pluralism.
Based on years of fieldwork, the talk provided an ethnographic dimension to statistical studies of informality, while offering a powerful critique to the popular ‘formalizing the informal’ policy approach to solving the ‘problem’ of informal commerce.
For more information please follow link.
Our next event for the Cambridge Media Reading Group is the second for this term and will take place on Thursday the 21st of May from 4.30 pm to 6 pm in room 316, Alison Richards Building.
Ali Sonay will be presenting media-related parts of his PhD project (to be submitted in June) with the title ‘“We are not Politicians, but Revolutionaries”: The Egyptian April 6th Youth Movement and Contemporary Contentious Politics’.
Ali Sonay joined the University of Cambridge - Al Jazeera Media Project at POLIS in April 2015 as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate. His research interests focus on social movement dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa, and contemporary trends of political thought. His current research examines the relationship between media and politics in Turkey and Morocco.
All welcome, and do please spread the word to other university members who might be interested to join the group.
We look forward to meeting you.
Ali Sonay has been appointed as the Al Jazeera Post-Doctoral Fellow for the 'Media in political Transition: The Cases of Turkey and Morocco' project. He shall be joining our team on the 20th April 2015 and working closely with Dr Farmanfarmaian on the University of Cambridge - Al Jazeera Media Project.
Dr Ayşe Seda Yüksel is the new Field Researcher and Assistant in Turkey for the 'Media in Political Transition: The cases of Turkey and Morocco' project.
'Media in Political Transition: Focus on Tunisia' Research Publishes Findings in The Journal of North African Studies.
Following a year-long research project and a successful conference in July 2014, the joint project between the University of Cambridge and Al Jazeera Center for Studies publishes a series of articles in The Journal of North African Studies (Volume 19, Issue 5, Dec 2014).
Media in Political Transition: focus on Tunisia - Dr. Roxane Farmanfarmaian
Government–media relations in Tunisia: a paradigm shift in the culture of governance? - Professor George Joffé
The scissors and the magnifying glass: Internet governance in the transitional Tunisian context - Alexis Artaud de la Ferrière & Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez
Negotiating identity: gender and Tunisian talk shows - Zoe Petkanas
To understand events in the Middle East and North Africa as they rapidly unfold with widespread regional and international implications, nuanced analysis is of critical importance. To this end CIRMENA is hosting a series of occasional seminars that will provide scholarly insight and assessment based on local knowledge and long-time expertise.
CIRMENA Visiting Fellow Dr. Jamal Abdullah, Head of Gulf Studies Research at Al Jazeera Center for Studies in Doha will be speaking on 'Qatari Foreign Policy: Reorientation or Adjustment to the Rhythm?' on November 7, 2014 in the Alison Richard Building.
Big Data, Communications and Media Theory: Conceptual Challenges
A roundtable discussion convened by Cambridge Digital Humanities Network, the Cambridge Media Research Reading Group, and the Big Data Initiative
October 30, 2-4pm ARB
The production and consumption of ‘Big Data’ underlie many key aspects of media in contemporary society. At the same time, ‘big’ as well as ‘small’ media are contributing to a symbiosis between communication and Big Data that is rapidly scaling new frontiers. Advertising has been reshaped by the ubiquitous collection of personal data from digital services and devices. Analytics from websites and social media platforms influence editorial decision-making. The rise of online self-publishing and the rapid diffusion of easily-mastered digital content production and editing tools has blurred the line separating media producers and consumers, while in turn adding to the Big Data deluge.
Do these ever-rising ‘volumes, velocities and varieties’ of data and communication pose new challenges for scholarly analysis of the media? Are we facing a “hermeneutics crisis”, as Geert Lovink suggests,“…because theorists have not learned to code, and also in part because the objects of study are simply not available (think of all the corporate algorithms)… The message of the medium is its underlying structure, and both Google and Facebook are perfect examples of this law.”
This roundtable will explore the reflexive impact of Big Data on how we theorize the media, and visa versa. Our panelists will consider what concepts such as network, communication and medium mean in the Big Data era, and their new roles in defining community and the public sphere.
Speakers: Dr. Wendy Pullan Department of Architecture,
Dr. John Naughton: Director Wolfson Press Fellowship Institute,
Dr. Sharath Srinivasan, Centre of Governance and Human Rights
Moderators: Dr. Anne Alexander, Digital Humanities Reading Group;
Dr. Roxane Farmanfarmaian, Cambridge Media Research Reading Group
The next meeting will be held the week of November 10. Date and Programme to be announced soon.
This fortnightly seminar, held Thursdays in Pembroke College and organized in partnership with the Centre of Islamic Studies at Cambridge, addresses current developments in the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the Arab Uprisings. After the initial roseate glow in the media and in Western academic circles surrounding the upheavals of 2011, there was a residual anxiety as new governments began to emerge and political Islam became a new force in the regional political landscape. The Turbulent World seminars consider the manifold uncertainties that confront the Arab world and its neighbours today, engaging the wider, interested audience throughout the University and beyond.
Thursday, 24 April
Masters of their Destiny or Destined to be Mastered? Kurdish Political Strategies in Iraq.
Professor Gareth Stansfield (University of Exeter)
Thursday, 8 May
McCarthyism and Counter-Revolution: The Gulf States and the New Regional Order
Dr. Toby Matthiesen (University of Cambridge)
Wednesday, 14 May
Shaykhen but not Stirred: Prospects for Gulf Societies Ambassador Stuart Laing (University of Cambridge)
Thursday, 22 May
Comparing Palestinian and Syrian Revolutionary Experiences Professor Yezid Sayigh (Carnegie Middle East Center)
Dr. Roxane Farmanfarmaian receives £480,000 grant renewal from Al Jazeera Center for Studies. The grant, to last into 2017, will fund research in Turkey and Morocco as part of the University of Cambridge – Al Jazeera Media Project. It follows a successful first year, in which research on ‘Media in Political Transition’ focused on Tunisia, and culminated in a Conference in collaboration with the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, in Cambridge in July 2014. A special issue of the Journal of North African Studies on ‘Media in Political Transition: The Case of Tunisia’, and accompanied by an Al Jazeera Paper of the same name with the articles translated into Arabic, will appear at the end of 2014.
The Conference will focus on the multiple changes experienced by the Media as Tunisia undergoes significant political change in the post-Ben Ali period. Focusing on shifts in structural relationships, concepts of public and private, and the development of new political and social narratives, the conference likewise will engage debate on political and media transitions in the region since the uprisings of 2011.
Further details here.
The Media Research Reading Group had its first meeting in May 2014. Centre of Islamic Studies Visiting Scholar and PhD student (University of Utrecht) Omar Sayfo presented his research on Arab animated cartoons. The presentation was not only scholarly as well as thoughtful and amusing, but inspired a wide-ranging discussion.
"Arab cartoons: production, context and message" by Omar Sayfo (University of Utrecht)
The second Media Research Reading Group meeting took place on Tuesday June 10 at 7pm. PhD student Ozan Asik presented his research on 'The Representation of Turkey's Other: Kurds and Arabs in the news production process in Turkey', to be followed by refreshments and discussion.
"The Representation of Turkey's National 'Other'- Kurdish and Arabs in the News Production Process in Turkey" by Ozan Azik (Sociology, University of Cambridge).
On March 18-19, CIRMENA members Professor George Joffe, Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian and Management Committee Chair Professor Yasir Suleiman, presented papers at a two-day international conference titled “Perspectives on Middle East Studies” at Qatar University (QU). As part of a new project, Cambridge in Qatar, the conference, organized by the Centre of Islamic Studies at Cambridge University, and the University of Qatar Gulf Studies Centre, drew about 200 participants from the diplomatic community, academia, and government.
Other Cambridge University delegates included Master of Corpus Christi College, Stuart Laing, and Dr. Paul Andersen of the Centre of Islamic Studies. University of Qatar’s Gulf Studies Centre director, Dr Abdullah Baabood said: “Dialogue and collaboration such as this are critical not only for Qatar and the Gulf but also worldwide.” The event also featured presentations from academics, researchers and experts from Hamad Bin Khalifa University, University College of London - Qatar, Northwestern University Qatar, and University of Sarajevo.