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Transnational Media Events: The Mohammed Cartoons and the Imagined Clash of Civilizations

January 26, 2009

tempEditors: Elisabeth Eide, Risto Kunelius, Angela Phillips

Nordicom, 2008, 290 p. – ISBN 978-91-89471-64-1, (Research Anthologies and Monographs)

In September 2005, a newspaper in Denmark published 12 cartoons depicting Mohammed, the holy Prophet of Islam. Soon after publication, these pictures became part of various events, political projects and diplomatic action. All over the world, the cartoons – or interpretations of them – were connected to discursive struggles that pre-existed their drawing and publication. The cartoon event thus extended well beyond its immediate dramatic phase of spring 2006, both into the past and the future, and became at least a small landmark case of post-9/11 global media history.

In this book, a community of international media researchers collects some of the lessons learned and questions provoked and offered by media coverage of the Mohammed cartoons in 16 countries, ranging from Denmark, Egypt and Argentina to Pakistan and Canada. The book looks at the coverage of the cartoons and related incidents through a number of conceptual lenses: political spin, free speech theory, communication rights, the role of visuals and images in global communication, Orientalism and its counter-discourses, media’s relations to immigration policy, and issues of integration. Through this approach, the book aims at a nuanced understanding of the cartoon controversy itself as well as at more general insights into the role of the media in contemporary transnational and transcultural relations.

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