Children in Morocco feel more muslim than arab
Cet entretien avec le chercheur en média et culture à l’université de Westminster, Tarik Sabry, fait partie d’une série menée en marge du colloque conjointement organisé par les chaires Fatéma Mernissi et Paul Pascon sur les sciences sociales dans le monde arabe en novembre 2018. Le but est de révéler de nouvelles approches et découvertes faisant sens eu égard à la compréhension des dynamiques sociales, économiques, culturelles et politiques. Il parle ici à partir du dernier livre qu’il a codirigé sur le rapport des enfants avec les écrans dans un monde arabe en mutation.
- 1. Nousualin studies and research to crossethnographic approach to media in the Arab world, so why this study in such context and why especially in children field?
- 2. What are the differences and commonalities you found in children field at the three sites of your research (London, Casablanca and Beirut)?
- 3. You refer to the question of "identity" under two perspectives of "Arabity" and integration in the "world", why do you privilege these frames for an ethnographic approach and why the Heideggerian method in such a context?
- 4. Why phenomenology? Why Heidegger?
- 5. What are the main lessons / conclusions of this work?
Nousualin studies and research to crossethnographic approach to media in the Arab world, so why this study in such context and why especially in children field?
I am a media and cultural studies scholar and have been teaching and researching audiences for more than two decades now. Prior to doing research for the book, I noticed two main deficits in relation to dealing with children audiences and the concept of childhood in the Arab region: one is methodological, the other is theoretical. A) Most of the research dealing with children audiences in the Arab region, Moroccan included, is quantitative in nature. This means there’s little if no engagement with children’s ontic experiences of the media, first as human beings and second as audiences. B) I also noticed that the theoretical framework that researchers in the Arab region make use of to engage with the theme of childhood and children audiences was still deeply rooted in old fashioned functionalist theories which I find to be largely obsolete and out of synch with major shifts in audience research paradigms emerging out of Europe and especially the UK where I teach.
Functionalists considered that the media, if uncontrolled, could fuel the populations’ thirst to social ills such as prostitution, drugs, and fragmentation of social values resulting from modernity. In short, while modernity was inevitable and desirable for a prosperous society, populations – turned into audiences - were not to be trusted with reaping its benefits. Audiences were considered rather irrational by nature and, if left to their own devices, would constitute a threat to social cohesion in democratic western regimes. Conversely, critical theorists placed the blame on the capitalist structures underpinning the media industry, that tie populations into a false consciousness through media uses. Populations were gullible and in need for control and in the case of children: protection. Functionalists resorted to understanding how audiences are affected by the media by reducing individual and group dynamics to behaviourism. Marxist/critical theorists sought to critique the rise of ‘mass culture’, whereby capitalist elite broadcasters and/or dictatorship regimes indoctrinated audiences and lured them into consumerist behaviour. They also both converged over an underlying positivist approach that analyses audiences’ behaviour and everyday cultural practices as passive and subject to the outdated effects model. This attention to human behaviour within the two contrasting bodies of scholarship has its roots in the late enlightenment meta-discourse on modernity that aligned social sciences with natural sciences to understand the formation of the modern subject and it is mainly the main paradigm inspiring much of the research on audiences in the Arab region.
I would argue that much of the research focusing on children and the media in the Arab region (Morocco included) has uncritically adopted this theoretical heritage from western academe without much care for questioning its epistemic and historical premises. This unconscious epistemic deficit explains why academic institutions and media regulators in Arab countries ignore methodological approaches such as ethnography that take the study of the everyday and humans experience seriously
We intentionally used a phenomenological/ethnographic approach because we wanted to learn about how children engaged with different media. We wanted to understand how children used the media as equipment to form a picture of their environment and the world. Children’s narratives were fundamental to our research and so was the everyday contexts in which their experiences of media unfolded.
As we embarked on the audience research strand, the main focus of this book, we initially adopted a pan-Arab TV-centred approach. However, with the early steps of the field research, we realised that the media practices of Arabic-speaking children both at home and in the diaspora exceeded academic and broadcasters’ assumptions and expectations. Child respondents across class, gender, ethnicity, and geographies have fully embraced multi-platform screen media in par with their peers in other western and non-western contexts. Our purpose was to develop innovative methods and tools that foster a child development approach through creative and artistic practices that value children’s time and effort. The ethnographic visits involved largely unstructured social and play time spent with the children and their families. Together we watched shows, played games, listened to music, and exchanged jokes and insights on the idiosyncrasies of everyday ‘Arabness’ that brought us all together. These ethnographic encounters between 2013 and 2015 interweaved the playfulness of summer holidays among child respondents, their parents’ ongoing pursuit of a decent living among often tight socio-economic realities, and the most intense acceleration of turbulence wrapping the Arab region.
While we endeavoured to focus on children’s media use, we often struggled to maintain our academic and human sanity facing the unfolding atrocities, and their direct and indirect implications on the research participants. The more we delved in, and bore witness to, the lives and minds of child respondents amid these volatile times, the harder it was for us to shake off the creeping angst over the grim prospects of Arab future generations that was unfolding before us.
What are the differences and commonalities you found in children field at the three sites of your research (London, Casablanca and Beirut)?
Findings across the three research sites in London, Casablanca, and Beirut, revealed the importance of moving beyond a media-centred approach to researching audiences. In each context, children respondents emerged as active interpreters of their realities rather than passive audiences in the classical sense of the term. London-based children seemed immersed in London life, demonstrated through their engagement with English as their native language of communication at home and in public. They engaged actively with British popular culture through music, TV shows and online platforms. While children adopted English as their preferred language of communication, they were exposed to Arabic, both colloquial and classical, by their parents as a way to connect children to their Arab heritage. Although children were not fluent in either form of Arabic, they partially engaged with Arab pop culture, mainly through pan-Arab or national satellite channels available in London. These include music talent shows, and comedy. Children also connected with Arab heritage through cultural and religious centres operating in London. Some learned Arabic using varied online platforms such as a bi-lingual App translating the Koran or through face-to-face interaction within communal religious spaces such as attending Mass in Arabic at the Lebanese Maronite Church in London. These findings were a turning point for our framing of the line of inquiry and motivated us to move beyond a media-centred approach. Since the bulk of the respondents’ media use was located within British cultural production, it was imperative for us to reconceptualise children as bricoleurs of cultural meanings who are positioned at the symbiotic interface
Reversing the focus from media to lived experiences allowed us to note variations in the ways in which children engage with their immediate environment and their imagination of the world. Arab Children in London intimately engaged with British culture through the media and their daily interactions with their school friends and relatives. Their almost exclusive use of British media, as well as their existence within a metropolitan city enhanced their exposure to various London subcultures, such as the Asian/Muslim and African communities at school and in their neighbourhoods. They were grounded within a UK-centred approach to connecting with the world and were only nominally exposed to non-British cultures.
In contrast, Moroccan children’s daily interactions were strongly grounded within local Moroccan cultural dynamics, yet they displayed the highest sense of exposure and worldliness through their media use. They were savvy audiences of American Hollywood action and horror films, Bollywood and Korean films, and Arabic-dubbed Turkish drama series, in addition to an array of Arabic speaking shows through pan-Arab satellite channels.
Ethnographic findings revealed a fluid process of understanding of the children’s selves and heritage that challenges deterministic assumptions about fixed identity formation. In London, children exhibited a shifting and composite identity embedded within both their London existence and cultural heritage. Often, children respondents had visited their heritage countries and maintained strong ties with their relatives there, displaying emotional affinity despite the physical distance. This affinity was manifested differently across London respondents. Children of Moroccan heritage mostly evoked the exotic tourist attributes of Moroccan culture for its hospitality, food, music, and sunny beaches. In turn, children of Lebanese heritage sustained a strong connection with Lebanese citizenship displayed in their appreciation of patriotic songs and awareness of sectarian differences in the country.
In Casablanca, children identified strongly with their context. They displayed an array of identifications within their context, primarily as Muslims rather than Arab. Children in Beirut were acutely aware of sectarian, ethnic, and national identities that characterise the Lebanese colonial, political, and socio-cultural context. They also tended to reproduce the same institutional and lived discriminatory practices towards other residents belonging to the long-standing and
Variations in educational settings and outcomes emerged as an important variable affecting children’s worldview and identity formation in the three settings. In London, children displayed strong reflexive, creative and expressive skills that reflect the UK state schooling standards in comparison to Morocco and Lebanon. In Morocco, children conformed to broader hierarchical social dynamics, reflected in a shy and reserved attitude and hesitance to expressing their opinions freely. Their creative and analytical potential was undermined by the rigid educational system based on passive learning and disciplinary approach by educators. On the other hand, London children were tightly protected and cocooned by their families, which was reflected in supervised space and time for play and extra-curricular activities. In Morocco, children, especially boys, had more freedom in terms of movement in the neighbourhood and their unsupervised access to Internet cafes.
You refer to the question of "identity" under two perspectives of "Arabity" and integration in the "world", why do you privilege these frames for an ethnographic approach and why the Heideggerian method in such a context?
The ethnographic evidence points to a clear disjunction between ‘Arabness’ as a discursive, pan-Arabist narrative and ‘Arabness’ as a structure of feeling about the world. In the case of Morocco, we learnt how the majority of the children identified more with Moroccanness and Islam than they did with being Arab, that is even if half of the population is of an Arab origin. Arabness for the children of Casablanca was closely associated with language, or how Arabic is spoken. Arabness for the children denoted countries of the Gulf, Egypt and countries of the Levant. The children understood that Arabic was the language of the Koran, and that by default God spoke the same language, making it a sacred and transcendental language. This sacredness, however, did not translate at the level of belonging or at the level of structures of feeling. The language of the Koran is just that – sacred, Semitic and transcendental—it has no relation to their everyday, spoken Moroccan-Arabic. From a mediatic perspective, Arabness can be translated at the level of regionalisation, and the political economy of the Arab media. For a long time, when Egypt led the Arab region between the 1950 and 1980s at the level of cultural production (especially cinema and later television), Arabness as discourse became strongly associated with Egyptianness. This role was claimed from Qatar through its satellite channel Aljazeera whose role transcended the remit of Arabic news production to an intentional and discursive attempt at reviving the pan-Arab identitarian project, this time with an Islamist flavour.
It is no wonder Aljazeera put a huge effort to tap into Arab children audiences, a project which failed because of reasons we do not have the luxury of space to engage with in this concluding chapter. At the linguistic level, Aljazeera were committed through their news broadcasts (with news readers from different regions of the Arab world) to standardise Arabic (Al-Jazeera Arabic) as a common frame and language. While Al-Jazeera helped children from Morocco to sympathise with the children in Gazza and the occupied territories, Al-Jazeera, as a Pan-Arab project never cohered with the children’s structures of feelings at the identitarian level because it failed to speak the language of shaa’b (people), the language of popular culture and let’s be precise: the language of the present cultural tense. The pan-Arabist project and what was left of it was then totally obliterated by Saudi Arabia through its MBC empire and its ruthless complicity with the US’s cultural imperialism project. The new pan-Arabism, led by Saudi Arabia’s MBC, is a mere vehicle for American soft power and for the ruling elite in Saudi Arabia. The new Pan-Arabism, or shall we say ‘Pan-Arab-Disneyism’, is a business and has to be understood from a political economy perspective as such. It is devoid of any ethics or vision. It is a bourgeois, neo-liberal fraud. Lebanon is known for its pluralist political and permissive social climate, turning into the battle scene of conflicting national, regional and international powers, as well as the playground for tourism and entertainment. Its proximity and history of close involvement in the Palestinian cause led to one of the earliest and bloodiest civil wars in the regions. At the time of the fieldwork, it was also suffocating under an unprecedented environmental crisis due to the corruption of national waste management bodies. Most importantly, it was bearing the humanitarian heaviest burden of the Syrian conflict among other Arab countries, receiving the highest number of Syrian refugees in the region.
Lebanon, historically known for its high educational and diasporic capital, is also the earliest Arab countries to adapt neo-liberal policies in the aftermath of the civil war (1975-1990), which have depleted local markets and widened the skills capital between rich and poor, and the metropolis of Beirut and the peripheries. It is no surprise that the majority of the population relies on remittances from relatives living abroad. These layers of complexities bring a fractured historical, political, and social climate where at once anything goes and nothing is resolved. Pan-Arabism in Lebanon has been controversial, with its national policies characterised as turning one eye to the Palestinian cause, and the other eye on a desirable affinity with western cultural production. Beyond the divisions of different political and military factions over the Palestinian and Syrian conflicts, national policies in Lebanon are of cultural enmeshment, characterised with a bi-lingual (and sometimes trilingual) educational system, a privatised health system, a Swiss-style banking haven for regional capital, and open markets. It was also one of the first countries to open up to globalised satellite media production and consumption. It is within this context that children in Lebanon are growing up, engaging with a toxic mix of sectarianism, corruption, environmental suffocation, racism, and deprivation. At the everyday level, these issues are sensed but not uttered. They form a backdrop of unease and volatility that is detected through a childhood malaise of identity formation. Arabness in Lebanon was absent from both the discourses and enactment of children and their families. At the level of language, middle class Lebanese children - including those residing in Lebanon and those in the diasporic Gulf region, did not speak in Arabic, instead making a point to switch the language of conversation into American English. It was a sign that the country has moved away from its francophone history and has embraced Americanism as the desirable mode of a ‘modern’ cultural existence. Their fascination with American English was directly connected not only to the American satellite channels such as the Disney Channel, Nickolodeon, and MBC, but also to the intertextuality between these shows and a social desirability to be ‘western’ (read modern) in opposition to ‘parochial’ defined in the use of Arabic language and Arabic-speaking media. Middle class children’s worldliness was synonymous to ‘Westernness’, manifested in their fondness of international cuisine and western celebrity pop culture. Unlike children in the other fieldwork sites, their time schedule was tightly controlled by their parents, who encouraged them to watch ‘good content’ like DVDs of Disney classics and new hits, in addition to visiting western-style themed parks, such as KidzMondo, a neo-liberal entertainment venture replicating a functioning city, where children take on different labour roles ranging from working at a gas station, as a hotel cleaner, a baker, or a banker. These activities coincided with children’s fondness for video games such as SimCity, that is devised for children to build an entire city from scratch and populate it with inhabitants, or which one respondent explained as ‘it’s like being God’. These experiences sat side by side with uncomfortable truths about the acute deprivation of Syrian and Palestinian refugee children, who faced everyday racism and ostracisation from the overstretched and inadequate humanitarian provision, leaving them hanging in the dissonance of the rhetoric of ‘Arab solidarity’ that is touted by various conflicting political parties.
Why phenomenology? Why Heidegger?
We borrowed the Heideggerian concept ‘thrownness’ and applied it to our reflexive ethnography because it captured, for us, like no other concept, the situatedness of the researcher in the field who has to a) grapple not only with childhood both as an ontological and an epistemological category, but also with b) spatial and temporal thrownness. In both cases, this made it critically important for us to engage in a systemic reflection on the process of our research. We emphasise process rather than findings for it had become apparent to us right from the start that process was, in and by itself worthy of systematic critique and reflection, for rather than it being merely about method, process un-conceals a more complex structure that fuses in the case of our ethnography; the affective, the empirical, the ethical and the existential. As such and as we observed in this book thrownness is an existential condition that is at once traversal and processual through which we, as ethnographers, were able to encounter our humanity – thrownness, in this context, is affect itself. Phenomenologically, thrownness is the process through which humans encounter and are affected by the world: its joy, suffering, things, equipment, feelings, (mis)understanding and techne. It is the process through which we figure things out for ourselves. But it is always in our encountering of the other, the other’s face, the other’s culture, that thrownness comes to the fore as an existential condition. In reflecting on our encounters with children and their parents from the three sites: London, Casablanca and Beirut, we resisted the rigid institutionalised meaning-making structures that privilege ‘objective’ truth and ‘empiricism’ over process. The irony is that the two are inseparable. In fact, the double-thrownness we were at pains to explain was, for us, a source of critical reflection without which we may not have been able to modify our method. We championed thrownness as a process and let its affective structure guide both our ethnographic journey and our scientific pursuit. Our thrownness as ethnographers was traversal and processual. We have experienced its different facets in the field in an ontological way. But what unravelled for us was that this kind of encountering (being thrown and the messiness it produces) was what eventually gave birth to our critical and affective method. In this sense, and as we have already observed, ethnographic thrownness has a dual composition: it is at once an ontological condition and a thinking/figuring out process. While being-thrown-in-the-world-ethnographically is temporally finite, the figuring-things-out process it prompts is traversal. It really has no end point. Thrownness we need to add cannot be separated from the ethical events, produced by a collision between the objective world and affective regimes. Our thrownness was made the more difficult because of our implicatedness, first as Arab researchers who have both fled the Arab region for a more dignified and intellectually fulfilled existence and second as witnesses to a futural existence of an Arab generation, then children between the ages of 7-12, who are active and resourceful, but who also, to quote David Buckingham in our context, ‘act under conditions that are not of their own choosing’. (Buckingham, 2008: 232).
What are the main lessons / conclusions of this work?
Based on what we observed, witnessed and experienced in the three sites of the fieldwork, the future for a whole Arab generation does not breed optimism. Resourcefulness and the mnemonic imagination aside, the objective world of this whole Arab generation is fraught with conflict, war, sectarianism, dictatorship, cultural salafism, racism and a public educational system that is intent on suffocating and stifling free and critical thinking, creativity and individuality. It is this glimpse into the future that made our affective experiences in the field the more distressing.
The ethnographic method in the three cities allowed us to venture into the manifolds of children’s worlds as much as they and their parents allowed us to. It gave us a close insight into the children’s everydayness, their worldliness (in which media played an important part) and their narratives of selfhood. We designed the viewing holiday diaries to capture not only media uses but also the ways in which children’s everyday lives were structured. We designed diary entries that taught us about the children’s friendships, their emotions (how they felt on certain days and why), their houses, parents, religion, and socio-cultural habitus. The diaries had turned the intangible mediated familiar of children’s everyday into a documented ‘unfamiliar’, allowing us and them to dialogically explore more folds to their worlds that we could not have otherwise captured. The diary entries did not only function as ethnographic prompts but were also in themselves the mediatic tools or equipment through which the children performed their worldliness and their being-in-the-world for us.
In the case of London, children used the diaries to delineate a complex and mnemonic language, navigating between their Britishness/Londonness and their Arab heritage. The children mnemonically performed their identities in front of us (ethnographers of Arab origins) and in the presence of their parents through what we thought was a complex negotiation between Londonness, heritage and media as equipment. The parents were, as most first generations usually are, nostalgic about the past and their countries of origin and live therefore in a more linear cultural temporality. The children, however, were more at home with their Britishness, Londonness and British media content. While their cultural temporal situatedness was by no means linear, they had a strong sense of a temporality that lied in the present cultural tense. Many have memorised whole lyrics from British Grime songs and talked with excitement about characters from British children’s programming. While Arab TV channels were often on as we did the family observations, for many of the children of Arab origins living in the UK, these channels are tolerated as a constituent within the mnemonic, agential process of which they are in charge and as part of a cultural temporality that lives in the past at the levels of language and content. If anything, this reinforces the media phenomenology thesis – that media’s care-structures are -- in the first instance -- inherent to their ability to mimic everyday structures. It is, as we learn from media phenomenology, through the media that our world and our everydayness is re-temporalized for us (Scannell 2014). In this sense, media uses of British-Arab children in the diaspora are more in tune culturally and temporally with the host country than they are with their parents’ country of origin. So, while the children navigate mnemonically between different cultural temporalities (their parents’ and theirs), the temporal distinction between these two identitarian repertoires is rather clear cut. While British cultural time, ceaselessly and intentionally reaffirmed through everyday mediatic structures, is situated in the present cultural tense, media content from the parents’ countries of origin is out of sync with the children’s everyday lives (at the level of language, popular culture and structure of feeling) and cannot therefore form a coherent temporality for the children. Incoherencehas to be read carefully in this context. We are not arguing that British children of Arab origin have no interest in their parents’ cultural repertoire. Far from it, this repertoire is key to their worldliness and their identity formations. The point we are making, however, is that there’s clear-cut distinction to be made at the temporal level. For the children, the British and Arab cultural repertoires reside in distinct and separate cultural temporalities. It is through the mnemonic process that they are brought together – a process over which the children have a lot of control.
Each fieldwork site threw different challenges at us. In Beirut, and especially in the case of the refugee family with whom we worked, the context of war was prevalent. Our positionality as researchers became entangled with ethical issues we had not anticipated. The family, literally all its members, confided in us. They trusted us enough to tell us their story of exile, marginalisation and suffering. We had to do away with our pre-planned schema (the institutional demands of the academy) and listen most of the time. We had learned very quickly that the children’s media uses could not be understood outside the contexts of the Syrian war, Hezbollah’s involvement and the structural violence in the neighbourhood in which the children lived. That was their everyday. So, our role was blurred. In this context, we were ethnographers, social workers and activists all at the same time and this threw different methodological problems at us.
In our workshops in London, especially those we conducted in religious institutions such as mosques, Muslim community leaders as well as parents treated us at the beginning, and rightly so, with conspicuous mistrust. Why was it, they must have thought, that anyone would be interested in talking to Arab children in a cultural centre within a mosque about their media uses in a time when dozens of youngsters had pledged their allegiance to ISIS? The difficulty we encountered in accessing communities (the Moroccan and Lebanese and whose languages and cultural subtleties were familiar to us: both ethnographers having been born and bred in Lebanon and Morocco respectively), speak volumes about the level of mistrust that exists between Muslim communities and the institution in the UK, be it media or the University. And why would the parents agree to give us access in a period of social British history that is fraught with islamophobia and fears of radicalization? Once we had access, we had to think very carefully about how to engage the children in questions of identity, othering, gender, cultural time and religiosity. A key workshop exercise we used across the three cities involved asking the children to design a one-week schedule for a new satellite channel aimed at Arab Children in the Arab world and in the diaspora. Initially, we used this exercise to assess levels of creativity, gender roles, othering, etc. This we found out quite a lot about, but we did not anticipate the strong links that existed between educational systems, conceptualisations of publicness and performing in such a workshop exercise. The children in the London workshops (who mostly went to state schools with the exception of one family that opted for home schooling) were the most organised, creative and worked efficiently as groups out of all the children from the other sites. Children in the other two sites, Morocco and the Lebanon, struggled with this exercise both at the levels of creativity and organization. The schedules presented by Arab children in London showed a rich variety of programming, a lot of which we think was inspired a) by an educational system where pupils are encouraged to work in groups and negotiate different roles and b) a public service ethos that combined entertainment programming with current affairs such as news and documentary. Children in Morocco and in the Lebanon were by contrast disorganised and unable to work efficiently within groups. Their schedules were merely copied from existing programmes. Even the children from middle class households in these two sites who went to predominantly private schools lacked creativity and organisation in this exercise. What we inferred from this experiment is that the educational system in these two countries (Morocco and the Lebanon), and we think it is safe to generalise and add the rest of the Arab world, is not conducive to encouraging individuality, negotiation, creativity and nor is it conducive to, we need to add, critical thinking.
Un-concealing Children’s worldliness be they in the UK, Morocco or in the Lebanon, required a comprehensive method that combined phenomenology’s ruthless focus on visible phenomena with a type of questioning that can only come to the fore when visible phenomena are studied in wider structural contexts. To this end, this book thinks through, with and against media phenomenology. Our opting for a phenomenological method, unhinged by teleology or any discourse of becoming has, by default let us into, a methodological position, where invisible phenomena could simply not be ignored. Children’s media uses in the Arab world today cannot be examined solely through a fundamentalist phenomenological approach. A critical phenomenology that is ready to engage with both visible and invisible phenomena is extremely crucial to producing a more contextualised and grounded knowledge on children and the media. While we agree that children’s worldliness is a product of ‘availabalness’, performativity, and affect, we also acknowledge that underlying this worldliness are invisible historical conditions that too need un-concealing. Arab children’s worldliness is deeply implicated in savage, unorganised, neo-liberal structures that are continuously and indifferently privatising different facets of everyday life. These hidden phenomena, we argue, matter a lot to the current and future generations of Arabs and to delineating a critical approach for studying children and the media in the Arab world. Our non-media centric approach to doing media studies, has confirmed and reasserted for us a wisdom, arrived at by many before us, often neglected by media-centric approaches: context, context, context! To think against rather than with Heidegger this time, it is both visibility and hiddenness that characterises our world. Thinking with, through and against phenomenology’s default position for thinking about worldly phenomena has made it possible for us, methodologically to first think outside sociology’s hermeneutics in order for us to then reconnect with it, and here we mean its hermeneutics of suspicion.
Still at the level of method, our approach to the study of the everyday (children’s everyday environment) was after a lot of grappling guided by a double-take: for us the study of the everyday offered an opportunity to learn how children organised their routines, how their lives were implicated in everyday things, and how they performed being in the world as an everyday occurrence. We were interested in their daily uses of the media, how often they played out with friends, etc. However, as the research unfolded, we became aware of the different contexts in which discourses such as ‘desnyfication’, sectarianism and cultural salafism had become entangled with children’s everyday structures. Ideology is most dangerous and potent when it acquires ordinariness and becomes part of everyday cultural practices. In the case of Beirut, children’s everyday lives, their media uses included, were deeply entrenched in discourses of sectarianism. In Morocco where Sectarianism is non-existent, some children between 7 and 12 have openly denounced Shiism, Christianity and Judaism as a deviation from the true faith and did not hesitate to speak of these faiths negatively. In the case of Morocco, a country renowned for its moderate and tolerant Islam, it is clear from our conversations with children from the working classes, especially, that cultural Salafist ideology is gaining ground there.
Children and Screen Media in Changing Arab
Contexts An Ethnographic Perspective
Authors: Tarik Sabry , Nisrine Mansour