It is the end of a more than a year project. We are presenting our findings and hopefully our stuff will be published next year. Here is the program schedule
Hopefully there will be updates during the conference at the Twitter hashtag: #CambAJ2017
This final conference brings together original research by two separate academic teams, one based in Morocco and the other in Turkey, who are engaged in the University of Cambridge-Al-Jazeera Media Project. Launched in 2013, the project’s first research programme, entitled “Media in Political Transition in the Southern Mediterranean”, focused its initial year of research on media in Tunisia after the Arab Uprisings. 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. The mid-study workshop brought their work together for the first time. The purpose of extending this research to Turkey and Morocco is 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 utilise the media for particularist purposes. By looking at Turkey and Morocco, a more complete picture is emerging of how government-media relations in the region have responded to new political tensions and shifts in popular narrative in response to the events of 2011 and 2013. Indeed, the strength of this project lies in the ability it offers to investigate change in three very different forms of state organisation – Turkey’s fast transitioning semi-democracy, Morocco’s monarchy, and Tunisia’s pluralistic post-revolutionary experiment after severe dictatorship as well as their interpretation of media as an instrument of state power and mechanism of social expression. This will provide original comparative analysis on the subject of the political-media nexus in these Mediterranean states, something that has not been conducted previously in any depth. Additionally, analysis of media as a reflection and tool of power (whether utilised by government, military, secret service, private sector or civic groups), sheds light on the structures and drivers of these states’ politics and modernisation processes from an important new angle.
Having the conference in Doha will add a unique dynamic to the project’s final period before realising the publication of a monograph in early 2017. The invitation of scholars, journalists and other relevant stakeholders based in the media/education hub of Doha, who will also give feedback on the respective papers, will contribute to building an outstanding network of media scholarship in the MENA region.