Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt by Lila Abu-Lughod

By Lila Abu-Lughod

How do humans come to consider themselves as a part of a kingdom? Dramas of Nationhood identifies an exquisite cultural shape that binds jointly the Egyptian nation--television serials. those melodramatic programs--like cleaning soap operas yet extra heavily tied to political and social concerns than their Western counterparts--have been proven on tv in Egypt for greater than thirty years. during this e-book, Lila Abu-Lughod examines the moving politics of those serials and how their contents either replicate and search to direct the altering process Islam, gender family, and lifestyle during this center jap nation.Representing a decade's worthy of study, Dramas of Nationhood makes a case for the significance of learning tv to respond to greater questions on tradition, strength, and smooth self-fashionings. Abu-Lughod explores the weather of developmentalist ideology and the visions of nationwide growth that when ruled Egyptian television--now experiencing a difficulty. She discusses the proclaims in wealthy element, from the prevalent emotional traits of television serials and the depictions of genuine nationwide tradition, to the debates infected by way of their planned recommendations for scuffling with spiritual extremism.

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Most radio and television around the world has been state controlled or in the hands of culture industry professionals who, as Stuart Hall (1980) has argued, tend to share the “dominant codes” of the nation-state. Censorship and anticipatory selfcensorship are the norms. Whether to create loyalty, shape political understandings, foster national development, modernize, promote family planning, teach privatization and the capitalist ethos, make good socialists, or innocuously entertain, mass media have been viewed as powerful tools for Ethnography of a Nation 13 social engineering.

They brought out their little television set. They apologized, as they fiddled with its homemade aerial, because it was black and white. And they invited me to come watch with them any evening, pitying me for not having access to a television set of my own. Television bonded us. And this bond began to separate me from other foreigners, people who generally, as the villagers knew, did not follow the Egyptian television melodramas they loved. thick description, still . . 4 But it needs some creative stretching to fit mass-mediated lives.

Yet I also want, in this chapter, to begin to show why the study of television, especially in places like Egypt, where it is tied up with national projects, encourages an anthropology that engages not just with academic questions but with other social fields of the world in which we work. cultural texts and “multi-sited” ethnography 25 In January 1996, when I was on a short visit to the Upper Egyptian village I had been working in intermittently since 1990, I watched with various friends some episodes of the current television serial, Ummahat fi bayt alhubb (Mothers in the house of love), which is set in a retirement home for women.

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