"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Coptic Images

For the better part of two years now, Egypt has been much in the news with the overthrow of the Mubarak regime, elections for a new government, and the ongoing persecution of the Coptic minority in the country. Much debate has ensued about the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and the potentially Islamist direction of the country. A new book, just published last month, may help shed some light here: Elizabeth Iskander, Sectarian Conflict in Egypt: Coptic Media, Identity and Representation (Routledge, 2012), 240pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:

In light of the Egyptian uprising in early 2011, understanding the dynamics that are shaping Egyptian politics and society is more crucial than ever as Egypt seeks to re-define itself after the Mubarak era. One of the most controversial debates concerns the place of religion in Egypt’s political future. This book examines the escalation in religious violence in Egypt since 2005 and the public discourses behind it, revealing some of the complex negotiations that lay behind contestations of citizenship, Muslim-Christian relations and national unity.
Focusing on Egypt’s largest religious minority group, the Coptic Orthodox Christians, this book explores how national, ethnic and religious expressions of identity are interwoven in the narratives and usage of the press and Internet. In doing so it offers insights into some of Egypt’s contemporary social and political challenges, and recognises the ways that media are involved in constructing and reflecting formations of identity politics. The author examines in depth the processes through which identity and belonging are negotiated via media discourses within the wider framework of changing political realities in Egypt. Using a combination of methodological approaches - including comprehensive surveys and discourse analysis - the research offers a fresh perspective on the politics of identity in Egypt.

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