Is There an Islamic Communication? The Persistence of Tradition and the Lure of Modernity

Khiabany, Gholam. 2007. Is There an Islamic Communication? The Persistence of Tradition and the Lure of Modernity. Critical Arts: A Journal of South-North Cultural Studies, 21(1), pp. 106-124. ISSN 0256-0046 [Article]

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Since ‘culture’ has become an essential category in trying to explain the post-1989 world, a new wave of essentialist thinking has emerged in the social sciences, including media studies. One such reaction is the so-called Islamic theory of communication based on a narrow and essentialist conceptualisation of ‘authentic’ culture. While trying to take issue with Eurocentrism, such an approach still operates within an Orientalist worldview. This article explores the central thesis, the limits and implications of Islamic Exceptionalism as related to media culture in the region, and Iran in particular. It suggests that claims of difference and of a singular ‘Islamic’ perspective on communication suppress the internal differences within such perceivedly singular ‘cultures’, and more significantly they overlook the real and more pressing ‘differences’ which need our urgent attention. In this article I argue that the claim of regional or religious ‘exceptionalism’ is only one part of a global cultural system that itself calls for the essentializing of local truths, and that tries to show how universal theories of culture and society do not fit these singular spaces/cultures. This recent ‘cultural turn’, and the emergence of alternative cultural claims to modernity, should be precisely seen as an attempt to reconstruct modernity according to ‘particular’ regional models, despite the avowed rejection of ‘modernity’.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Media, Communications and Cultural Studies > Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre



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Date Deposited:

22 Oct 2015 15:46

Last Modified:

27 Feb 2019 12:18

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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