MENA Migrants and Diasporas in Twenty-First-Century Media

MENA Migrants and Diasporas in Twenty-First-Century Media, guest-edited by Waleed F. Mahdia for Mashriq and Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies, vol 9, no. 1, 2022, pp. 1-193

Call for Papers:

The first two decades of the twenty-first century put the 1990s accounts of globalization, multiculturalism, clash of civilizations, and transnational mobility of peoples and ideas through the rigorous tests of the 9/11 attacks and the global war on terror, the information revolution, the Arab uprisings, the “migration crisis,” and the COVID-19 pandemic. The result has been an array of experiences shaped by evolving global stress on the securitization of borders, the increasing appeal of populism, and a rising sense of global Islamophobia and xenophobia. These have occurred amidst waves of disruption to identity and community life, forced and voluntary displacement, and the imposition of growing challenges to mobility in a globalized yet heavily policed world. In this context of change and struggle, how are voluntary and involuntary migrants and diasporas of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) represented in twenty-first-century media? How do representational modes of identity, mobility, and belonging engage these pressing realities? What do these representations reveal about agency and resistance against institutionalized forms of exclusion and violence? And how do migrant and diasporic media and representations themselves constitute counter-narratives to institutional meanings of identity and belonging?

This special issue of Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies engages with these questions through six original essays. The contributions advance thought-provoking arguments and rigorous analyses in multiple local, national, and transnational contexts, both in the global South and North. To make this possible, the issue defines its key terms “MENA” and “media” in ways that allow for variety in inquiries and expositions of narratives and voices, forging analyses of underrepresented topics and communities. The issue defines MENA migrants and diasporas broadly to include peoples who originate from, claim lineage to, or identify with the Middle East, the Sahel and West Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The examined communities in this issue include South Asian migrant laborers in the Arab Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Syrian refugees in Turkey, Iranian immigrants outside Iran, Somali diasporas in the United States and the United Kingdom, North African immigrants in France, and descendants of Arab immigrants in the United States. Meanwhile, the issue broadly defines media to include print media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, novels, comics); broadcast media (e.g., radio, television, film); transit media (e.g., billboards, banners, posters); and digital media (e.g., blogs, websites, social media). The breadth of such a definition allows for inclusive examinations of a variety of media scopes that move beyond the field of journalism and cross the boundaries of literature, visual culture, and art. The contributions in this special issue deal with various media produced in the first two decades of the twenty-first century: social media videos, newspapers, films, poetry, fictional and nonfictional writing, performance, visual art, and graphic novels. Therefore, the special issue features six critical interventions in their respective areas of inquiry. These scholarly works critically engage with the special issue’s stated questions and deliver depth into different contexts, resulting in a multilayered examination of twenty-first-century media outlets and representations.

Table of Content