Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Redefining Muslim Publics - Eickelman and Anderson

   In the reading by Eickelman and Anderson on "Redefining Muslim Public", they make it clear from the start how transglobal and accessible, information has become. This therefore influences political and religious authority. They state that the Muslim community whether they be the majority or minority, they have created their own public "sphere" or sector. The sector is operated by "civilians" and outside government control is nonexistent.
  They state that the fact that this technology and availability of it to new users is the cause of the spread of awareness within Islamic values, fostering different perspectives in a public space which is free from a regulated formal institution. In such case Eickelman and Anderson argue that new ideas are formed within community, leadership, and identity. They also mention how "states" or government has tried to control mass media or influence it because they are aware of the strength and power it has in order to systematize.
  The fact that media is not only used to spread information but plays a major role on the economy and other aspects as well and therefore since they're interdependent the restriction of their use could be fatal. Media has such a large impact that even Islamic law journals that are open to the general public encourage the exchange of views with the editors and consequently enlarge legal interpretation in many ways. The spread of Islamic faith has adapted through comic books, tv, novels, and even theater.
  They state that new media has blurred the line between public and private communication. New media has transformed the idea of the public into anonymous senders and recipients. Modern society is in conclusion more prone to meet in a common space through a variety of media forms, hence more likely to form a common opinion through dialogue and exchange of ideas.

New Media/New Jews - Shandler

This is Shandlers section on contemporary affects of media and the Jewish religion. He discusses that new media is often viewed as one extreme or the other in religious terms, either a miracle or a devil. People often jump to conclusions instead of just waiting it out and actually see the affects. One of his examples was the CD of the Talmud, in which one of his prof’s was certain would result in Talmud being out of a job, which was not the case, things are rarely that transformational. And although it also became online, this is digitalized form only goes so far. The Talmud is even available with podcasts and programs from websites. This online source has taken away the traditional study of the Talmud, to where a person had to know the entire book and remember details as small as where on the page was the information located, and on what page. Though digital forms take away this aspect, it does not remove the difficulty of the content of the book, and is still extremely hard to master. Therefore this digital form changed the ways of teaching and testing the students, not the actual mastery or job of the Professors of Talmud
Many positive views of new media encourage a change of the way of life. New media is different ways of socializing, connecting and engagement with others. It also serves as new ways to enter Judaism, and alters their spiritual journey. For example the book Judaism Online: Confronting Spirituality on the Internet by Zakar and Kaufmann, displays the media’s impact on converting to Judaism.  Open Source Haggadah is another example of this (Haggadah is text that you read before Passover Seder, a commandment of teaching your children the stories). Also Jewish forms of programs, matchmaking for dating and worship is available online and even a 3-D website of virtual Jews (Second Life) which has synagogues, holocaust memorials, museums, etc online. Second Life is an online world, a second realm for Jews and Non Jews to better understand, a way to reinvent themselves as Javatars as they call it. This program is intended to facilitate interest in Jewish culture and heritage, but its affects are yet to be determined.  Second Life also has a matchmaking business, but it is uncertain that those people seeking love are Real Life Jews.  Their purpose was to recreate the Jewish debate, and stimulate interest in the culture. For others, they claim they aren’t different between realms, and that Second Life simply offers and extension of the Jews they already are
Another virtual Jew are the ones in Germany, though they play Jewish music, do Jewish theater, etc they aren’t actually Jewish, developed by desire instead of actual facts or traditions.

Some may say that these medias inhibit information, and end humanity, but others argue that it enhances it, and “increases centrality of the body”, intensifies their life and culture and grows the Jewish network. However, Shandler wants to emphasize to not take extremes, and find peace “somewhere in the middle”, new media gives us options. A negotiation, a compromise in the community a way for the observer to play a role in participating/experiencing the Jewish life and obstacles, and see new possibilities for practices.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Digital Arabs" Sisler

Sisler’s article “Digital Arabs: Representation in Video Games” is a great article highlighting the stereotyping done in various video games. He begins with the perception of representation as more than just the visual representation, but that the storyline, perspective and main characters play large parts in what the game represents. He goes on to cover the perspective most often displayed in military based games; the “self” versus the “other.” In American video games, the collective self is the American military and the other, who is the enemy, is often Arabic or Islamic. According to Sisler, “The enemy is depicted by a set of schematized attributes...headcover, loose clothes, dark skin colour.” This is a clear example of the stereotyping seen in almost all types of media in the United States. Also, as in the video games Full Spectrum Warrior and Delta Force, the “enemy” is most nearly demonized by the game in that the Arabic soldiers engage in cruel and inhumane actions. Most of the stereotyping, as in other forms of media, is in many ways a result of 9/11. However, those in Arabic countries who have seen their young people play these American games are concerned with the impact it has on their youth. In response, they have created their own video games. The only difference between their games and the American ones is the perspective from which the gamer plays. The premise is still us versus them, only the “us” side is made up of Arabic and Muslim characters and the “other” side is made up of Israeli people. In conclusion, I feel as though the stereotyping done in America towards Arabic people groups is not uncommon by any means. It should not come as a surprise that the collective self can be any group of people and the other, which is the enemy, is whoever the game designer wishes them to be. This article really shows how deep this tendency to stereotype a people group that is very misunderstood really is in both American culture and even Arabic culture.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Islam and Judaism in an age of Internet

In week 9 we will consider how Islam and Judaism have appropriated and adapted to the Internet. First we will investigate how Muslims have been framed in popular video games though reading Vit Sisler’s article called “ “Digital Arabs: Representations in Video Games”.  Then we will consider how different Israeli Jewish groups have responded to the internet by reading an article I have written entitled “Religious engagement with the internet within Israeli Orthodox groups”. Looking at these reports and arguments together we will seek to identify what factors influence different religious group’s positive and negative reactions to digital media and how digital culture shapes religious group’s response to media more broadly.

Abdallah-Post 9/11 Media and Muslim Identity in American Media Summary

In Abdallah's article titled. "Post-9/11 Media and Muslim Identity in American Media", Abdallah states that a main reason why that the Americans who hate Muslims and Islam do so because they are not fully educated on what Islam is actually about and where it comes from. He goes on saying that the American media has distorted facts and stories to the point where Americans have not been accurately informed that the news is showing the extremists and terrorists who use Islam as a cover or scapegoat instead of clarifying that that is not a true portrayal of what Islam is really about. After 9/11, some media sources hired more Muslim writers to provide a less-biased view of the coverage. Slowly, many Americans have begun to realize that Islam is not prominently in just the Middle East but in Africa and other places as well. In addition, many were surprised to discover that most Muslims abhor the violence and killings just as much as some Christian and Jewish communities. If the media can just move away from the stereotypes, Americans will be more able to form a solid opinion about how they feel about Islam and Muslims.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cohen “News Values, ideology and the Religion Story”

The Coen Article started of by introducing the supreme court case from the 1994 appeal of Playboy over broadcasting in Israel. The author stated that it is important that in understanding the "construction of religious news" we must understand the  "psychological and ideological news values" The article goes on building ground work by defining news as a "Crisis involving religion".  The article explains how news and  to many religions in israel is defined as something not only close to the audience geographically but also religiously. It also goes on to explain how Religious Icons (Rabbis)  are typically more prominent than other individuals in the news. The article goes on to explain how in 2000 when many media sources where polled it showed that 10% of the coverage was over religion in secular outlets. It found also that there where more television stories covering religion than news papers. Conversely in the United States, religion was more popular in the Newspapers. Cohen goes on to  write that politics and religion are the most covered subjects and that the most covered topics of the two are intact religious political parties. In the jewish media Cohen elaborates the elitism or elites in the religious sector such as chief rabbis take a large percentage of the religious media coverage. Cohen continues by stating that ultra Orthodox Jews count for a major percent of the news coverage but a small percentage of the actual Jewish population. In this section he continued elaborating how small sects took up large portions of the media coverage. In the next section Cohen explained how in areas of higher populations of different religious faiths that where larger than Judaism where found to be covered more in the news, for example the headquarters for the lutheran church in Minneapolis. Cohen goes on to talk about Ethical constraints and how there is no "tradition of complete freedom in Israel" like there dis in the U.S. The extent to what the news is restrained is based off of the Public and Official institutions as well as the influences of society. He goes on to discuss instances of ethical refute when one figure would do something 'un-ethical' like the case involving Dor Zadik and the questionable background. He also explained how the method of news being spread affected the public reaction using instances when Rabbis where accused of crime and how the public reacted differently to each. One was announced via a rumor, another by a group of Rabbis and finally by a newspaper. Cohen explains that Rabbis are often the center of news publications and scandals and that there is not a consensus among Rabbis on weather or not it is an ethical practice . He goes on to explain that Israeli law prohibits Damaging of religion or religious figures showing just how rooted religion and the Jewish faith are in Israeli society. One major problem that is being faced as explained by Cohen is the actual broadcasting of television and radio on the Sabbath. The article goes on explaining the pros and cons of the broadcast and explains how in wartime the benefits of utilizing the broadcast system to alert of rocket attacks would be invaluable. He goes on to articulate the moral and ethical dilemmas faced with broad cast and news. In all the Article explains how Jewish society handles the influences of modern media and how some have accepted it but many are still not on board. The article argues that media affects the way religion is perceived by outsiders and is poised to cater toward those religions that are more abundant geographically. The article also emphasizes how religion in israel in a sense controls media or the censorship of it via political and social power. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Interpreting Media Portrayals of Islam and Judaism

In week 8 we will seek to interpret different media portrayals of Islam and Judaism, by comparing and contrasting how Muslims and Jews have been framed by mass media outlets. We will specifically look at news coverage of Jewish and Muslims groups.  Our first reading is a book chapter by Aslam Abdallah that looks at journalistic post 9/11 media and Muslim identity in American media.  We will also read and reflect on Yoel Cohen’s study of Israeli media coverage considering how news values and cultural belief frame coverage of religious stories about Judaism in the press. Together these help us identify the common narrative and essentialist notions of religion often communicated in press coverage about these religious traditions.

Monday, October 7, 2013

In Shandler's article "New Media/New Jews" we see how the emergence of the Internet for research and socialization is affecting the Jewish people. First and foremost, religious texts are now very much more accessible through CD or Internet articles. The Talmud notably is now readily available, which is a compilation of rabbi's teachings on all facets of life and the basis of Jewish law. Referred to as "The Oral Law" this text is the central instrument in the training and teaching of rabbis. This availability however does not make instructors obsolete, because to read, analyze, and comprehend the Talmud in the proper fashion is greatly assisted by the assistance of a professor rather than reading it on the Internet by yourself. Shandler's main focus in the article was the fascinating presence of an organized Jewish  community unmatched in real life in the character role playing game online titled Second life. In this alternate virtual reality people create avatars to their liking and can navigate an expansive world filled with other people from around the world ready to chat and socialize about real world and second life topics. There is a large community of what has been nicknamed "javatars" that frequent an area of the world that features Jewish temples, sites of remembrance, and even sites of Jewish affiliation that couldn't exist in real life. An example of this would be a sort of Passover theme park that users of the site have created. Not everyone who has a javatar is necessarily a Jew. This is really a representation of modern European culture though with people who aren't practicing Jews, but practicing Jewish culture in the medium of food, music, and theater.However, for many practicing Jews this alternate virtual reality is an outlet to extend their faith whether it is by conversing with people of similar backgrounds or creating Jewish temples within the site. This seems to be the general trend of the article being that while new technology changes access and networks of the faith for the most part new innovations are being used as tools to enhance people's religious lives. Shandler's seems to be very grounded in a theory of cultural midpoints where in technology new mediums of connectivity are opened in education and new Jewish online connectivity.      

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Jewish Responses to Media

In week 7 we will explore Jewish responses to media by investigating how different Orthodox Jewish groups have responded to television.  We will read a chapter from Jeffrey Shandler’s book, Jews, God and Video Tape-Religion and Media in America, and look at the impact of various media technologies on American Judaism. His chapter explores how the American Chabad community has used audio, video, and the Internet to transform their former leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, into a “virtual rebbe”. David Cromer’s short article, ”The Polluted Image: The Response of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism to Israel Television, reflects on a very different approach to media by religious Jewish communities, consider religious critiques of the use of television within Orthodox communities. Together these reading provide an interesting comparison of Orthodox embrace and resistance of media.

Nathan Abrams, "My Religion is American": A Midrash on Judaism in American Films 1990 to the Present & Samantha Baskind, "The Fockerized Jew"

In Nathan Abrams' "My Religion is American": A Midrash on Judaism in American Films 1990 to the present, Judaism in American film history is closely examined. The way Jews have been portrayed throughout film and behind the camera has been steadily evolving with time. The article explains that before 1990, when Jews were starting to appear in movies, that their Jewish practices or beliefs were never the main storyline. Writers usually just stuck to small details of the faith here and there. As time passed and the somewhat close-minded population of America became more comfortable with the idea of Judaism, the more it was represented on the big screen. Flash forward to the year 1990. Abram argues that "the sitcom Seinfeld (NBC, 1990-1998) marked a shift in American visual culture in many ways." He goes on to explain the the show described Judaism not only in an ethnic way, but a religious way as well, with examples of conversion and bar mitsvahs. Abrams also mentions the movie "Meet the Fockers" which leads in to the next article, "The Fockerized Jew", by Samantha Baskind. In this article, Baskind focuses on the more humorous side of Judasim and expresses how the movie "Meet the Fockers" brings a new light to Jewish people that many may never have thought existed. In the movie, the not-so-typical Focker family, are certainly not what people would envision as "normal" Jews. Roz, the mother of Greg aka Ben Stiller, played by Barbra Streisand is a sex therapist for the elderly (very uncommon for a Jewish woman), and the father, Bernie, played by Dustin Hoffman is basically a hippy. Though unconventional they still seem to exude certain Jewish qualities such as the Yiddish slang used by Roz and Bernie's habit of keeping and showing off all of Greg's old tenth place ribbons from grade school. As a whole, this article basically explains the now "coolness" of Jews, and how filmmakers are becoming more open and honest with all aspects of Jewish heritage.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Fockerized Jew

In the article ‘The Fockerized Jew’, Samantha Baskind demonstrates how movies such as Meet The Fockers portray Jews as being ‘cool.’ Meet The Fockers does not shy away from referring religious practices, however American entertainment normally discriminates, stereotypes or hides a characters Jewish heritage. In the 60s and 70s television and movies had a few Jewish references however they were not considered cool. Instead they were found interesting, never appealing. However now in the 21st century Jews can be seen as ‘cool,’ much like how black culture is popular amongst white teens. Most movies which involve Jewish characters normally play on stereotypes such as an overbearing mother, a high maintenance daughter who is very materialistic. Although these families are said to be ‘jewish,’ religions never plans a vital part in their daily lives. The characters in Meet The Fockers, on the other hand are the opposite of these stereotypes; Roz, the mother, has no problem with her son marrying out of the families religion and her husband Greg is not the main breadwinner and allows his wife to hold great power in their house. The Fockers also embrace their Jewish heritage and celebrate all the holidays. There are many TV shows and other movies such as Keeping the Faith that have made Judaism look ‘cool.’ Despite these shows, there are still movies that show the money hungry stenotypes of Jews. Ben Stiller who is Jewish, normally plays characters who are Jews. Interviewers often ask him about his heritage and his appearance wondering if he is embarrassed however he is not. He looks very Jewish and he is okay with this as in todays culture looking different is okay, we no loner have a cookie cutter shape for what people must fulfill. Some critics believe that Meet The Fockers is a film portraying the difference between liberals and conservatives, while others believe that it shows how it has now become an ‘in’ thing to portray your religion. Never the less Baskind believes that for once Judaism is shown as being supreme. When compared to the WASP Byrnes family, the Fockers come out on top. They are the ‘cool’ ones at the end of the day showing how society is changing by accepting new cultures and identities.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Presentations of Judaism in Media

In weeks 6 we will explore presentations of Judaism in Media. Specifically we will consider how religious Jews have been framed in popular films and how these characterizations and the messages they send have evolved over time. We will read and discuss Nathan Abrams, article entitled’ “My religion is American”: A Midrash on Judaism in American Films 1990 to the Present’, which provides an overview of framings of Jews in cinema over the last three decades. Then we will focus on the images and messages communicated about Judaism in the 2004 film "Meet the Fockers" through reading Samatha Baskind's article entitled The Fockerized Jew?: Questioning Jewishness as Cool in American Popular Entertainment. As you read please reflect on what seem to be the dominant narratives told about religious Jew in film and what shifts, if any there seem to be in the representations of American Judaism


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Judaism 101 & and the Media

In week five we will be discussing Judaism and its relationship to media. In class we will be unpacking some of the core beliefs and practice related to religious Judaism and how they inform their response to and perceptions of various media technologies and context. Drawing on a book chapter entitled "History and Media Tradition: Discovering Baselines for Religious Approaches to New Media" we will consider how the history of Judaism provides a backstory of how and why religious groups, especial within Orthodox Judaism have responded to the media in particular ways. It argues that by paying close attention to how religious groups define their community, authority structure and negotiate their relationship with the printed word provide a basis for a particular group’s media values and tradition. Happy reading and I look forward to hearing your comments in class.

Walter Armburst's "The Riddle of Ramadan: Media, Consumer Culture and the 'Christmas-ization' of a Muslim Holiday"

               Walter Armburst’s article “The Riddle of Ramadan” focuses primarily on the Fawazir Ramadan, a television program that tells a riddle each night of the month of Ramadan. It includes dances, caricatures, and jokes in a very surreal indescribable way, and gives a prize to the correct guesser of the riddle. Then, interludes, such as a Christmas carol-like song sung by a woman who is not properly hijabed, emphasize a more modernized, Christianized Islam. The show does not specifically mark the end of fasting for the day, but it does mark the beginning of socializing. The show is not technically Islamic, but it still has importance due to its structure around Ramadan. Armburst compares it to the way Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer do not contain Christian stories, but are still heavily associated with the holiday. Although the Fawazir began as a way to entertain children, it has manifested into promoting corporate and state interests, made evident by the prizes given to those who can guess the riddles. While the fasting during the month is meant to install piety and humbleness in those who abstain during daylight hours, Armburst argues that the materializing of the Fawazir encourages a more materialistic worship. When people are more focused during their fasting on what they’re going to eat and what prizes they could win, instead of how the poor and unfortunate are struggling, it takes away the important significance of Ramadan. People are not meant to overeat after fasting and show off their wealth during Ramadan, rather the holiday is meant to instill an understanding of the poor and the hardships they face. 
                Armburst compares this phenomenon to the way Christmas is becoming more and more centralized on materials and corporate gain, rather than the birth of Christ. People who want to see the holiday more Christ-centered dislike how the focus of the holiday is not on how God gave his only son to die for us, and the miracle of his birth, but instead upon what gift to get and give, and what kind of sides to serve with the Christmas turkey.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Anderson: The Internet and Islam's New Interpreters

Anderson's article about the integration of media into Muslim culture shows how the media can be both a good and bad source. But more than anything Anderson highlights how with increased access to media comes increased responsibility on Muslims to represent their faith in the correct light. One century ago books were the new media, but now the people of Islam are beginning to adapt their views on modern technology see that the internet can be a useful tool in allowing them to address and reform the image of Islam. The networks that are created online are promoting religious and political conversation, expression, and representation of the Islam that has previously been confined from the public eye. Also, Muslims are using webpages to reach out to both believers and seekers creating a wider audience and network for knowledge to be spread. The internet has allowed the use of websites,  news groups, email lists, and bulletin boards, but other technologies have helped bring Islam into the age of modern technology as well. Muslims now have easy access to Education material such as the Quraan App on their phone, self help/ advice hot lines, prayer timer apps, maps with mosque locations, cassette sermons, etc. 
However, in this modern world many Muslims are having to find the balance between trying to live a Muslim life in a non Muslim society. It can be hard to interpret religion in a world of competing voices, authorities, and legitimacies. And although media is allowing a broader range of people to view Islam their interpretation could easily be skewed by miscommunication. The responsibility of the new generations of Islam is heavy in the sense that the public eye is watching their every move. Anderson writes that "interpreters, emboldened by confidence in and command of the channel" of media must be careful not to overstep the line between what is an appropriate and respectful debate and what is not. Not only that, but whether or not the author of the information that is now public is representing Islam in a way that will be interpreted correctly. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

cartoon crisis

Cartoon Crisis

This Article focuses on the infamous depiction of Muhammad that appeared in the Jyllands-Posten article "The Face of Muhammad" in Denmark on September 30 2005. The image depicted the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, which obviously was viewed as horribly offensive by the Muslim community. The image lead to backlash as Danish embassies were burnt down in the Middle East and Terrorist attacks were encouraged by Osama Bin Laden. It was Denmark's worst political crisis since World War Two.
The Muslim community viewed this image not only as blasphemy, as the image of Muhammad cannot be shown, but also as a attack on the religion itself. the image of Muhammad with a bomb implied that not only are all Muslims terrorists or have the capacity to become one, but also that Islam is a religion of violence and aggression and that Muhammad is used as a symbol to incite violence and persecution. The text referred to the image as "one of the most severe examples of hatred for islam. It can be said that this image was a attack on the Muslim faith due to comments a month before the article was released stating that a "medieval" muslim culture would never be held as valid as Danish culture. Many Danish politicians have also spoke out against muslims, calling them "cancer".
Although this can be viewed as an attack on Islam, it can also be viewed as freedom of expression. Even if it is offensive to some it should still be able to be expressed. This is similar to how in the United States the KKK is allowed to have riots and demonstrations, even though they are obvious attacks on minorities and are incredibly offensive. 
The author concludes by stating that the EU should not attempt to adopt Denmarks policies and to do more to stop racism. He also states that downplaying religion and culture in social integration would do wonders for acceptance of Muslims into socket

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Islamic Responses to Media

In week 4 we will consider how Islamic communities have responded to the use of various forms of media, paying specific attention to the ways media can be used to present religious beliefs and rituals and the debates surrounding religious media practices. The reading by Walter Armburst on “The Riddle of Ramadan: Media, Consumer Culture and the ‘Christmasization’ of a Muslim Holiday” looks at media use during Muslim festivals and debates about how religious media messages may impact perceptions of religion. The article by Jon Anderson on “The Internet and Islam’s New Interpreters “will help us reflect on how the presentation of Islam online may challenge traditional religious structures and authority roles. Come prepared to discuss how media may both help and challenge religious communities’ communication and behavioral practices.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Poole Part 2, Media Literacy

The second part of the passage written by Poole, is focused on media literacy and how three groups interpret the media that they read. The people represented were categorized intro three groups, Muslims, Contact, and Non-contact. Poole shows how these people interpret the media that they read and what is "important" to them in the text, specifically their knowledge of media bias, and the misrepresentation of Muslims in the media.

Depending on which of these three categories that the person can be placed in, how they used the media to support their "claims" varied (Poole 233). For non-Muslims that were part the non-contact group, meaning they have no contact with Muslims, relied on a certain media source heavily for their information. They displayed "selective perception" where they would choose on quote form the text to focus on and make it fit to their needs or claims (Poole 233). Though the groups presented different ways of using the information, they all had the mistake of misreading articles in common. They all have a tendency to skim read something if it is of no significance or value to them, which results in only pulling information they need that most appropriately fill the blanks they need for their view of the event.

A major part of how informed a person is has correlation to what they read. For example, participants that read regularly, but only picked up a tabloid were far less informed. People who showed little interest in reading news, listening to news, or watching the news had little knowledge about current issues (Poole 237). Some cultures have such close ties to their newspapers, that the papers only printed what that particular group of people wanted to read. Little historical knowledge, as well as the inability to argue for their readings was extremely evident in the non-contact group. For shear lack of any minority groups, there was a since of the "Other" group and the issues plaguing them (Poole 238).

Poole wants to reiterate that we are not only influenced by the media, but our ability to decipher the media and recognize the bias in it, as well as, the direct influence around us directly affects our perception of a particular group of people, particularly Muslims in this case.

Reaction/Summary of Poole's "Media Representations of British Muslims" Part I

I went over 300 words, but I feel this is the best I can do for such a long article (46 pages).

Simply put, this text by Elizabeth Poole (pt. 1) is the analysis of various groups of British people surveyed based on their reactions to four different articles regarding Islamic faith in the media. The people surveyed were aligned into different groups: Muslims divided by gender, non-Muslims who experienced interaction with Muslims, and non-Muslims who experienced no interaction with Muslims. They were all British from around the same area of Leicester and aged 16-18, however, socioeconomic statuses and education levels varied among the participants. Muslims were economically disadvantaged but educated, the contact-group possessed a higher economic status and more liberal views, and the non-contact group held more conservative views and were wealthy also. The articles these people were asked to respond to dealt with Islam in marriage, blasphemy, education, and fundamentalism.

Results from the survey showed that Muslim men had more political knowledge to base their arguments on, and there was less fear in giving “right” answers, whereas the Muslim women surveyed gave more reserved answers centered around “portraying a reasonable face of Islam” and answers were less about explaining their own opinions (p. 203). The Muslim people of both genders both shared equal concern about how the media often failed to explain their values accurately and how this affects the majority population’s opinion. In this case, the concern was often Islamic violence in other parts of the world and how the media’s coverage of these stories threatened the image of British Muslims. The contact group of non-Muslims showed more hostility toward Muslims than did the group with no contact with Muslim people, despite the fact that the group with contact to Muslims were more liberal (associated with tolerance, in my opinion). The texts states that “non-Muslims who have no contact with Muslims are more likely to discuss Muslims positively than those with contact” (p. 198). It seemed as though there was a gray area dealing with the sentence prior, for as I continued to read through the report, the conservative group of non-Muslims with no contact were portrayed to have a lot more racism and prejudice than the more liberal non-Muslims with contact. The opinions from the Muslim participants were predictable, but I can’t help but feel like the hostilities toward Muslim people should be switched between the liberal and conservative samples.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Perceptions of Islam in Media

In week three we will be exploring how Islam is framed and perceived within mass media news outlets and the implications of these framing for public understanding of Islam.  There are two set readings. The first is Elisabeth Poole's exploration of how Muslims have been framed by news media in her chapter “Representing Islam in theory & Practice” from the book. The second focuses is a reflection by Tim Jensen on the Danish Cartoon Crisis of 2006 of a controversial political cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed that resulted in international protests and debates regarding the treatment of Islam by media and the West.  Please read and reflect on the arguments these articles make about the perception and presentations of Islam in news media.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Considering the relationship between religion and media

In this course we will be looking critically at the relationship between Jewish & Muslim communities and the media. This includes identifying the assumptions different parties carry and promote both about the role media plays in society,  and how religion is conceived and understood. It is important that we when studying the relationship between media, religion and culture we carefully reflect on how media outlets promotes certain view about religion, as well as how religious groups may frame media with certain assumptions.

Potential conflicts and misunderstandings between religion and media were exemplified in early August when Fox news aired an interview with Religious Studies Scholar Reza Aslan. While the interview was slated to be a review of his controversial new book "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" the encounter between Aslan and the Fox Anchor highlighted a number of tension and stereotypes about how religion is understood and should be communicated about in media culture.  One of the key issues emerged in the news reporters objection that someone from a Muslim background could speak and write about another faith tradition. Their exchange highlighted a number of stereotype and assumptions about how religion should be viewed and engaged with in the public sphere Please review this article about the event "Video: U.S. scholar Reza Aslan’s book no.1 after botched Fox interview" and its featured video interview. 

Please watch the Fox interview and reflect on the following questions:

What assumptions does the Fox reporter have about Islam and the field of religious studies?
What assumptions does Aslan stress about religion and the role of religious scholarship in society?
What does this clip illustrated about the relationship and possible tensions between religion and media in popular media culture?

Please post your thoughts on these issues in a 50-100 word response as a comment to this blog, and come prepared to discuss these and your classmate responses at the next class meeting.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Welcome to study of Judaism, Islam and the Media

Welcome to the blog for the Freshman Critical Thinking Seminar exploring Representations and Response related to Judaism, Islam and the Media held at Texas A&M University during Fall 2013. The aim of this class is to will explore Jewish and Muslim groups  relationship to mass and new forms of media. In our readings and discussions online and in the classroom we will explore how Jews and Muslims are represented in popular media and how these framing influence religious communities perceptions and responses to different forms of media.  This blog is a space for student reflection on issues raised in the class as well as the space where you will post your weekly questions and "aha moment" observations on assigned reading. I look forward to a great semester of learning together.  -Dr Heidi Campbell