Dramas of a Nationhood: the Politics of Television in Egypt

Lila Abu-Lughod, Dramas of a Nationhood: the Politics of Television in Egypt (2005)

Lila Abu-Lughod’s third ethnography, Dramas of a Nationhood: the Politics of Television in Egypt, published in 2005 applied the ethnography of media to Bedouin communities and their consumption of Egyptian serials. Abu-Lughod uses traditional ethnographic techniques in her study, namely living extendedly with the community and interviewing her subjects intimately. Her ethnography answers the question ‘how do people come to think of themselves as part of a nation’? Directly influenced by Benedict Anderson’s imagined community, Abu-Lughod considers television a national institution (8). She writes, “Nation-states can be looked at both as cultural artifacts whose technologies of production and imagination can be analyzed and as modes of ordering everyday life that can be ethnographically investigated” (9). Abu-Lughod goes on to explain the educational nature of television shows in appropriating behavior fitting for citizens (i.e. modern/Western customs, putting away traditional customs, valuing education). She treats the state as the producer of ideologically charged television serials to be consumed by local audiences. Within the pages of her ethnography, she deconstructs the educational messages of modernity and proper citizenship sent from the state through the serials. Then she interviews local audiences on the serials reception, acceptance, and rejection.

 

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