Panel 7f. Political language and public opinion in the context of liberation

Chair: Liina Mustonen, European University Institute

Political Discourse in the Context of the Arab Spring: Analysis and Translation
Husam Haj Omar, The University of Leeds

Translation, although often invisible in the field of politics, is actually an integral part of political activity. Which texts get translated, from and into which languages is itself already a political decision. (Schäffner and Bassnett: 2010: 13) The paper examines the relationship between a number of issues in relation to politics, political discourse, language and translation, using illustrative and representative examples from the political discourse communicated during the Arab Spring. The paper is divided into three main sections. The first one investigates political discourse, differentiating between text and discourse, and politics and political discourse, listing features as well as types of political discourse, and concluding with a study of revolutionary discourse, which has a particular significance for this thesis. The second section examines political discourse analysis on the basis of two methods: detecting political tools employed, and critical analysis. The third section establishes a connection between political discourse analysis and translation at both macro- and micro-levels. The paper aims to demonstrate that politics and translation, especially in the context of the Arab Spring, are closely related as both influence each other and affect the decisions taken by actors and participants in both the political arena and the field of language, bearing in mind that politics often tends to prevail. It will also demonstrate that the reciprocal relationship between politics and translation during the Arab Revolutions is governed by the power relations that are determined by oppressive policies followed by governments and strategies adopted by political discourse analysts. Ideology also seems to be connected to, and contribute to this multi-faceted conflict. The data used for analysis in this paper is taken from the political discourse communicated during the Arab Spring. The theoretical framework is based on theory of Critical Discourse Analysis and the investigation of political tools used in a given discourse.

Translation in the Context of Media and Politics in an Era of Globalisation
Shifa Askari, The University of Leeds

Translation is one of the major activities that play an effective role in the massive cultural exchange that is taking place in the course of globalisation. News has become easier to communicate and more abundant due to the internet applications and the increasing number of news sources. Translation of news has increased accordingly and in this process sensitivities, prejudices and pre-conceptions can be passed over, and stereotypes can be used to serve certain ideologies. Stereotypes represent the traits that we view as characteristics of social groups, while ideology is frequently described as the mindset of the more powerful class or of the society imposed on others. I am concerned with the translation of media texts in Arabic and English in relation to the above issues between the Arab and western media. For the purpose of this research paper, 10 journalistic texts (translated from Arabic into English) are chosen from two news agencies (Al Jazeera and Reuters). The texts will be comparatively analysed to record the techniques and identify the mind set they seem to have served. Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis (Wodak and Meyer, 2002) is used as an approach for this analysis focusing particularly on stereotyping between the Arab world and the West. The analysis will rely on linguistic and textual categories such as mode, time, tense, and argumentation. These results show various ways in which translation can be used as a tool to address various audiences, influence them and even shape their opinions. Translation thus plays a definite role in influencing public opinion.

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“We are Not Terrorists” – Aspirations of Liberation from Prevailing Power Structures
Liina Mustonen, European University Institute

In summer 2013 thousands of people took to the street against the military coup d’état in Cairo. Based on my ethnographic work in Cairo during that summer, my paper analyses the discourses of a small piety movement from one of Cairo’s suburb. Observations from the lessons taking place in a small mosque proceeding and succeeding the popularly supported military coup d’état, shed light to the lived realities of the women of that poor neighborhood, and point to their aspirations of better life. Some of the frequent mosque-goers joined the protests taking place against the overthrow of president Mohmmaed Morsi in the squares of Rabaa al Adawiya an el Nahda and thereby engaged in challenging the leadership of the Salafist el Nour party. Other members of the group sympathized with the causes of the demonstrators and mourned their deaths. All of the women were somehow affected by the massacre that took place on 14th of August 2013 when Egyptian security forces entered the squares and killed hundreds of supporters of president Morsi. By building on Saba Mahmood’s research (2005) on the piety movements in Egypt whereby see defines agency as a product of the historically contingent discursive traditions in which it (the agency) is located, I want to give a voice to women who, as they themselves say, “are not terrorists” but search for a better life within their historically and discursively produced conditions.

Is it a revolution or a coup? Scandinavian media representations of the ousting of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy
Joel W. Abdelmoez, Stockholm University

In the summer of 2013, millions of Egyptians returned to Tahrir square in Cairo to demand the resignation of the country’s first democratically elected president. This paper examines the two key terms mainly used to describe the ousting of president Mohamed Morsy, ‘coup’ and ‘revolution,’ and how these terms can be understood as arguments for two different interpretations of the event. Particular focus is given to the press corps of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which reveals a discrepancy between the interpretation of Scandinavian online press and the Egyptian majority, meaning that the Scandinavian press corps are telling a story that is not recognized by those it is about. While many media producers speak of a severe polarization, it is found that the divide is actually small in numbers, but grows over time, raising questions about journalistic practice and media ethics. It is concluded that Scandinavian reporting on the Middle East needs to be seriously evaluated and reformed in order to improve its credibility.

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