I had a possibility to attend the conference Media Religion Culture 2012 which was held in faculty of Communication Sciences, in Anadolu University on 8–12th of Julys. I will share some ideas presented in the conference.
Conference is initiated by the Center for Media, Religion, and Culture which serves as the global secretariat for the biennial international conferences on Media, Religion, and Culture. These series of meetings were initiated by an invitational meeting held in Uppsala, Sweden in 1994 and an international public meeting in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado, launched it as a regular series.
First of all I was surprised how strict with time Turks were in the conference. It was the first and actually the last time when Turkish people forced others to be faster, sometimes even interrupted the speakers because of not enough time left. I should have recorded those moments.
On the other hand, I was really disappointed by what I heard in one of the American professor‘s presentation. No matter what, I will always consider the USA open and steadily rising country in all the fields which have made impact on huge number of countries.
Anyway, presentation was called What is Islamophobia? and out of the blue (I don’t remember an exact question) a discussion started questioning where the education was better – in the East or the West. And the lecturer told us to look around, everybody is going to the USA, sometimes to the United Kingdom, it’s obvious that everybody wants to study here because it’s the best place for this. Woman who asked a question of course said that she disapproves of this and discussion was over: “I think we value education differently”. It shows how sometimes even highly educated people are so narrow – minded and there is a need of these platforms for discussion.
Paradoxical, the presentation was catching enough. Islamophobia – indiscriminate negative attitudes or emotion directed to Islam or Muslims. This negative influence was formed by influence of the Hollywood. Formed situation is similar to ghettoiration – the limited representation of minorities in the Media.
To be sure that these stereotypes are alive you can watch films called Hope and a Little Sugar (2006), Kuda Kay Liye (2007), New York (2009), My name is Khan (2010), Five Minarets in New York (2010). The films offer an alternative view to the one that is repeatedly shown by Hollywood on Muslims, Islamophobia and 9/11 attacks. It is really hard to change point of view of a lot of people because they are sure that every Arab is a terrorist or Osama bin Laden relative. The protagonist of the movie “My name is Khan” asserts “My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist”.
Some insights from presentations:
· You could feel impact of Facebook in a lot of presentations. Yes, at this moment we advertise ourselves on Social Media, but what will happen when we die? Our profile will still be open for visitors? It‘s like dream machine or line for the heaven?
· Talking about computer games a lot them like Flower (2009), Journey (2012) are based on killing somebody in the church. So how it will affect children‘s unconsciousness who play it?
· Presentation about the moustache and the beard from one young professor who made her presentation for the first time was kind of successful. They are symbols signifying masculinity and power of patriarchal men and traditional Turkish and Islamic society. This cultural sign has been taking different forms according to socio-political conditions of the time in every situation and circumstance and has been transformed into a political accessory reflecting various ideologies. For instance, during the period named the 1968 generation known as the student riots, the moustache became a sign to show political party people coming from different ranks of society support. Another important point is that every moustache style has been transformed into a political accessory reflecting various ideologies.
· One most of the important discussions were about creating a link between advertising and religion. Advertising and religion have problematical dimensions. There are aspects which are anathema to religious ethics. One is whether God and religious symbols in general constitute effective means for selling and marketing mammon or products in the secular marketplace. Another is whether God should sell in other words how theology perceives the act of selling, marketing and advertising. Contemporary religions promote themselves through modern advertising and if so how they do it. Yet another question is whether religions relate positively or not to the advertisement and the act of advertising.
As the conference finished all those bits of insights and thoughts suddenly fell into one picture. It seems that the main source of discord is ignorance and political interests rather than religious or cultural differences.
If you are interested, you can find information and names of speakers on this website.