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Book Review: Muslim Rap, Halal Soaps and Revolutionary Theater: Artistic Developments in the Muslim World

Mark LeVine calls this volume, edited by Karin van Nieuwkerk, a tour de force of cultural analysis of the blossoming production of religiously oriented art, music, and theater in the Muslim world. The book, he writes, will "further the interdisciplinary development of Islamic studies, cultural studies, ethnomusicology and even, it is hoped, the usually drier disciplines such as political science or sociology, both of which could certainly use a bit more rhythm and color in their methodological repertoires in the wake of the region-wide protests and revolutions in which culture has played a powerful and as yet poorly understood role."

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Beyond Egypt’s “Facebook Revolution” and Syria’s “YouTube Uprising:” Comparing Political Contexts, Actors and Communication Strategiesf

Sahar Khamis, Paul B. Gold and Katherine Vaughn compare and contrast the role of social media in the Egyptian and Syrian uprisings, providing a comprehensive review of the tactics used by both activists and regimes. The ability of new technologies to effect political change, they argue, is determined by pre-existing social, political and communication structures.

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‘Not Ready for Democracy:’ Social Networking and the Power of the People–The Revolts of 2011 in a Temporalized Context

Robert Hassan argues that high-speed social networking technology disrupts the traditional rhythms of liberal democracy which, since the Enlightenment, have been based on the slower processes of print-based culture. Digital technology, he maintains, has propelled mass political action in the Arab world, but has left in its wake a political vacuum, with democratic processes struggling to catch up.

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Al Jazeera Television: Rhetoric of Deflection

Mahmoud R. Al-Sadi analyzes the “anti-establishment” discourse of Al Jazeera host Faisal al-Qasim, revealing a complex rhetorical style that deflects Arab radicalism, nudges viewers towards the pragmatism of Qatar’s foreign policy, and thus serves to reinvent Arab autocracy.

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Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Social Media Moment

Nadav Samin looks at the uprising in Egypt from the perspective of Saudi Arabia where an online attempt to initiate nationwide protest in March 2011 met with disinterest from a sector of the digital community. An assessment of social media’s role in the regional uprisings, he argues, must not overlook its ability to reinforce and amplify conservativism in some contexts.

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