eArabic and the cyberspace: Minority Voices in the MENA region
The role, if any, of social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), satellite television (Al-Jazeera) and anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks played in the recent uprising in Tunisia, Egypt and in other regimes in the MENA region is a new research area that is attracting interest. Cyberspace, in particular is now viewed as having quickly overtaken satellite television in terms of its capacity to house and engender the discussion and expression of ideas and opinions that would not normally find their way to the public arena. These ‘marginalized’ groups with their diverse claims based on recognition are the focus of this book. Examples of these groups include, women, ethnic/religious minorities (e.g., Kurds, Berbers, Armenians, Shiites in Sunni-majority societies, Copts, Druze, Jews in Arab countries), LGBT, the socio-economically disadvantaged, to mention a few.
‘Arabic cyberspace’ is characterized by varying registers of the Arabic language and the incorporation of various dialects and borrowing from foreign languages. These various linguistic manifestations can be termed ‘e-Arabic’ and are a central theme of this book. This e-Arabic is a ‘new’ language used on the internet and mobile telephony which mixes, borrows and evolves, using numbers, Roman letters, Arabic script characters, emoticons and words from other languages, to engage not only with the globalised discourse, but also to highlight the specific ways in which the local frames the global. Blogging in particular, has become a popular way of reaching out to others with similar political, religious, cultural, social or economic interests and forming interest networks unrestricted by geographical boundaries. Recent findings published by the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University suggest that the largest dialectical linguistic groupings in the Arabic blogosphere were Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Kuwaiti, Levantine/English, mixture), Syrian and Maghrebi/French mixture. Thus, the usage of Arabic dialects is itself an important aspect of cyber discourses and provides a new area of inquiry for the assessment of the implications of diglossic manifestations in broader cultural forms.
The book seeks to explore the new language that is emerging in the Arabic-speaking countries. Possible Chapters/ideas include:
1. The Arab revolutions and the language used on the internet, particularly with minorities.
2. The role of e-Arabic in shaping various discourses.
3. Language choice on the Internet by Arab Internet users.
4. The role of the dialects in the new writings.
5. E-Arabic, dialects, Modern Standard Arabic: any change?
6. The Internet and the linguistic scene in the Arab World.
7. The internet, language, religion and identity in the Arab world
8. If you would like to propose a chapter, please send a short author(s) bio as well as a 750 word abstract with title to Anissa Daoudi (firstname.lastname@example.org). The deadline for receipt of all proposals is June 30th, 2011. I will notify all correspondents by 15th July 2011 regarding the status of their submission. Completed draft will manuscripts will be due by 30th August 2011.
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