Mass Mediations examines popular culture broadly, in terms of economics, politics, conventions of taste and aesthetics, and performance. The “popular” is an integral part of a wide cultural spectrum, not a set of practices to be opposed to “elite” culture. High/low distinctions such as those commonly made in the West are sometimes part of cultural discourse in Middle Eastern societies, but they rarely operate in a strictly analogous fashion. Our focus, therefore, is less on what popular culture is than on what it does in its mass-mediated forms, namely, to create new scales of communication and, consequently, new dimensions of modern identity.
A wide variety of media are considered, including recorded music (as well as live performance), television, cinema, and print media ranging from mass-circulation weeklies to postmodern novels. All the material examined here is underrepresented in scholarship on the Middle East. This volume therefore helps to fill gaps in the regional literature. Growing excitement over new communications technologies makes it easy to overlook the historical depth of mass media in the Middle East. Consequently, we include several chapters that analyze historical dimensions of mass-mediated culture. Of course, the very idea of a Middle East is itself a political issue. We respond to this concern by addressing transnational dimensions of Middle Eastern identities that challenge conventional assumptions about the region and its relation to Western societies.
Relations between metropolitan societies and the colonized are an important part of contemporary history. However, on many levels the unfolding of modernity in colonial and postcolonial societies has scarcely been described or analyzed. The literature on Middle Eastern popular culture is so impoverished partly because concerns about Western power and Western representational practices have overwhelmed analyses of non-Western
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Publication information: Book title: Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond. Contributors: Walter Armbrust - Editor. Publisher: University of California Press. Place of publication: Berkeley, CA. Publication year: 2000. Page number: ix.
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