GMSI Reading Group

Our reading group is a part of Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops. You can find more information about the workshops here. 

October 27 (Thursday, 4:00-5:30 pm)

Location: Space 2435, North Quad

Bilge Yesil, Media in New Turkey: The Origins of an Authoritarian Neoliberal State (Univ of Illinois Press, 2016).

“In Media in New Turkey, Bilge Yesil unlocks the complexities surrounding and penetrating today’s Turkish media. Yesil focuses on a convergence of global and domestic forces that range from the 1980 military coup to globalization’s inroads and the recent resurgence of political Islam. Her analysis foregrounds how these and other forces become intertwined, and she uses Turkey’s media to unpack the ever-more-complex relationships.

Yesil confronts essential questions regarding: the role of the state and military in building the structures that shaped Turkey’s media system; media adaptations to ever-shifting contours of political and economic power; how the far-flung economic interests of media conglomerates leave them vulnerable to state pressure; and the ways Turkey’s politicized judiciary criminalizes certain speech.

Drawing on local knowledge and a wealth of Turkish sources, Yesil provides an engrossing look at the fault lines carved by authoritarianism, tradition, neoliberal reform, and globalization within Turkey’s increasingly far-reaching media.”

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September 29 (Thursday, 4:00-5:30 pm)

Location: Room 5450, North Quad

Marwan Kraidy, The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative Insurgency in the Arab World (Harvard Univ Press, 2016).

“Uprisings spread like wildfire across the Arab world from 2010 to 2012, fueled by a desire for popular sovereignty. In Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere, protesters flooded the streets and the media, voicing dissent through slogans, graffiti, puppetry, videos, and satire that called for the overthrow of dictators and the regimes that sustained them.

Investigating what drives people to risk everything to express themselves in rebellious art, The Naked Blogger of Cairo uncovers the creative insurgency at the heart of the Arab uprisings. While commentators have stressed the role of social media, Marwan M. Kraidy shows that the essential medium of political expression was not cell phone texts or Twitter but something more fundamental: the human body. Brutal governments that coerced citizens through torture and rape found themselves confronted with the bodies of protesters, burning with defiance and boldly violating taboos. Activists challenged authority in brazen acts of self-immolation, nude activism, and hunger strikes. The bodies of dictators became a focus of ridicule. A Web series presented Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as a pathetic finger puppet, while cartoons and videos spread a meme of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak as a regurgitating cow.

The rise of digital culture complicates our understanding of the human body in revolutionary times. As Kraidy argues, technology publicizes defiance, but the body remains the vital nexus of physical struggle and digital communication, destabilizing distinctions between “the real world” and virtual reality, spurring revolutionary debates about the role of art, and anchoring Islamic State’s attempted hijacking of creative insurgency.”

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Past Readings

Texts for 6th April 2016:

1. Arjun Appadurai, Banking on Words: The Failure of Language in the Age of Derivative Finance (2015)

-Chp 1: The Logic of Promissory Finance

-Chp 4: The Sacred Market

-Chp 5: Sociality, Uncertainty, and Ritual

-Chp 6: The Charismatic Derivative


Texts for 23rd March 2016:

1. Degim, Johnson & Fu (2015), Online Courtship: Interpersonal Interactions Across Borders

*Introduction and highlighted chapters


Texts for 9th March 2016:

1. Kelly Gates, Our Biometric Future: Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance

*we’ll be reading chapters 1, 3 & 4


Texts for 5th February 2016:

1. Doreen Massey, “Global Sense of Place” and “A Place Called Home”

2. Mark Andrejevic, “Media and Mobility”

3. Brian Edwards, “The World, the Text and the Americanist”


Texts for 22nd January 2016:

1. Benedict Anderson, “Frameworks of Comparison”

2. Paddy Scannell, “Technology and Utopia: Radio in the 1920s”

3. Ch.7, “Politics of Fun” from Asef Bayat’s “Life as Politics”


Texts for 8th January 2016:

1. Stuart Hall, “Notes on Deconstructing the Popular”

2. Arjun Appadurai and Carol Breckenridge, “Public Modernity in India” (the introduction)

3. Asef Bayat, “Life as Politics”