Sixth Brown Bag of the Semester – February 28, 2014

David McDonald, Assistant Professor, Departments of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University

Framing the Arab Spring: Hip-Hop and the poetics of reform in the Arab world

Despite an unprecedented level of interest in the popular culture associated with the Arab reform and revolutionary movements that began in December 2010, American news media to date have provided only a superficial and at times misguided depiction of the music performed during the protests, as well as its larger socio-cultural use and function. This depiction has focused almost entirely on transnational Hip-Hop at the expense of nationalist, political, classical, and folk song repertories indigenous to Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria.  In this talk I argue that this misinformed, partial, and superficial depiction of the protests, centered around hip-hop and social media, has strategically shaped the ways in which the uprisings have been framed within the American public imaginary, attempted to control the direction and outcome of the uprisings in the streets, and further served to impose a neo-orientalist discourse of American hegemony over forces of reform and democratization in the Arab Middle East.

Tamara Kharroub and Ozen Bas, Doctoral Students, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University

Protests and social media: An examination of Twitter images of the 2011 Egyptian revolution

This exploratory content analysis examined Twitter images of the 2011 Egyptian revolution in terms of visual content (violence, facial emotions, crowds, protest activities, and national and religious symbols). The analysis of 581 images shows more focus on efficacy-eliciting (crowds, protest activities, and national and religious symbols) content than emotionally-compelling (violence and facial emotions) images. Further, emotionally-compelling content decreased over time, whereas efficacy-eliciting content increased at times of instability and unrest. Violent content and protest activities were the best predictors of image re-posting. Finally, highly-influential users (“opinion leaders”) posted significantly more efficacy-eliciting visuals than images of emotionally-charged content. The findings are discussed in terms of the possible explanations for the content patterns and their potential impact on twitter users and viewers.

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