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FYI: Social Media, Cultural Practices and Arab Spring

Author: Najma Al Zidjaly

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

FYI Body: Call for book chapters on Social Media,Cultural Practices and ''The
Arab Spring:'' A Critical Linguistic and Multimodal Perspective

Chapter Abstract Submission Deadline: February 14, 2012
Chapter Submission Deadline: June 15, 2012

Social Media, Cultural Practices and ''The Arab Spring:'' A Critical
Linguistic and Multimodal Perspective

A book edited by Najma Al Zidjaly

Publisher: Oxford University Pres (OUP) has expressed interest in
publishing this edited volume (However, no commitments have been
made yet).

Background: The news and entertainment media have had a great deal
to say about the affordances of new media technologies (such as
mobile phones and the Internet) and social media, such as Facebook,
Twitter and localized media like Omani Sebla in Oman. Accordingly,
myriad claims have been made regarding the ''beneficial'' role that
social media (old and new) have played in facilitating political change in
''The Middle East'' and what has been termed ''The Arab Spring.''
Reciprocally, the popular press has made numerous claims about the
role of such technologies in quashing uprisings and maintaining
authoritative regimes. These unexamined views have led to a limited
understanding of the events that have taken place in the Arab world.
As the world marks the first anniversary of ''The Arab Spring,'' and in
the wake of new details that do not build such a rosy picture of what
has happened, it is incumbent upon scholars to empirically investigate
and offer academic understandings of not just the role of social media
in these events but also the reality of these events. Linguists, discourse
analysts and researchers in related fields need to examine, discursively
and multimodally, the social reality of “The Arab Spring” as experienced
by Arab people in various countries and across a multitude of contexts.
We need to critically investigate the role that new media technology
(and other technologies) have played, and continues to play, in not
just facilitating but also, perhaps in certain cases, pacifying or hindering
the Arab ''Thawrat'' or ''Youthquakes.''

Description/Premise: The edited book is built upon the premise that
social (and non-social) media are cultural tools used by social actors to
create action; as all cultural tools, they have not just affordances but
also limitations. Thus, this book, in contrast to other books on social
media and Arab identity, is not a celebration of social media or the
mainstream mono-view that portrays a simplistic and isolated view of
''The Arab Spring.'' Instead, its collective chapters examine how
intricately people in various Arab countries use or have used social
media, flyers and banners, other artifacts, discourse and language to
promote and/or pacify protests, and to negotiate their identities,
current, past and future. The volume’s purpose is to highlight the
agency of the social actors involved in the current events sweeping
across Arab countries, and to offer unique and nuanced perspectives
that do not take for granted ungrounded claims propagated by the
news media. It rather questions through analyzing discursive and non-
discursive data these mainstream views, highlighting human agency
and what people actually did/do in negotiating the current changes,
while simultaneously contextualizing the various experiences and
linking them to their broader societal local and global discourses and
ideologies. The fact that there are already various competing views
among Arabs on Arab streets about '' The Arab Spring'', makes the
point of the book all the more important because it is aimed to reveal
the complex reality of these important events instead of lumping all
Arab experiences under one vague umbrella.

Goals: The book has three main goals. First, it aims to demystify ''The
Arab Spring'' and highlight human agency by viewing and investigating
social and other media as cultural tools used by social actors. Second,
it intends to provide the most comprehensive depiction and
understanding of the current changes sweeping across the Middle
East. Third, it will demonstrate how multiple methods stemming from
linguistics and related fields reveal how both discursive and non-
discursive means through which protests, ''thawrat'' or ''changes''
happen are negotiated.

Methodology: Because of the complexity of the Arab situation or ''The
Arab Spring,'' the methodology ideally draws upon various qualitative
or/and quantitative social scientific and humanistic approaches,
including but not limited to discourse analysis (interactional
sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, mediated discourse analysis,
critical discourse analysis); multimodal approaches; ethnography; and
grounded theory. The data will ideally include examinations of
chatroom discourse, social media discourse, flyers, flags, official
discourse, TV discourse (Al Jazeera, Al Arabia or any other TV news
channel), newspaper discourse, real time discourse, interviews, face to
face discourse and/or any other form of data that relates to old and
new forms of social media use.

Topics: Ideally, we would like to include two articles on each Arab
region such as Tunis, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Oman, Yemen,
Jordan and any other Arab country going through political and social
changes. These articles preferably will present various views on ''The
Arab Spring.'' The role that Al Jazeera and other media as well as
other sources have played in igniting or otherwise shaping these
changes is considered also. Analyses of how using various media
technologies or social media sites as forums for social change or
resistance of change are encouraged.

Submission Procedure: Scholars are invited to submit on or before
February 14, 2012, a 500 word abstract explaining the point of the
chapter, data, methodology and summary of analysis or findings, if
possible. Authors should also briefly explain how their proposed
chapter fits in with the goal of the book.

Authors will be notified by February 28, 2012 about the status of their
proposed abstract/chapter and will be sent chapter guidelines. Full
chapters (7000-9000 words) are expected to be submitted by June 15,
2012. All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a double-blind review
basis. Contributors may also be requested to serve as reviewers for
the edited volume.

Important Dates:

February 14, 2012: 500 word Abstract Submission Deadline
February 28, 2012: Notification of Acceptance
June 15, 2012: Full Chapter Submission (7000-9000 words)
July 15, 2012: Review Results Returned
August 30, 2012: Final Chapter Submission

Inquiries and submissions can be forwarded by e-mail to:

Dr. Najma Al Zidjaly

Visiting Scholar at the Linguistics Department of Georgetown
University, Washington DC, USA (2012).

E-mail: najmaz@gmail.com

Permanent Address:

Assistant Professor
English Department
College of Arts & Social Sciences
Sultan Qaboos University
P. O. Box. 42
Al Khod, 123, Oman.

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