Colloquium | Wazhmah Osman

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 12:00pm

Wazhmah Osman

Rangeen Versus Sangeen: Translational Media and the Afghan Culture Wars.

International dramatic serials or soap operas have found an avid viewership and new market in Afghanistan. The broadcasting of “foreign” media including representations of diverse lifestyles, religions, and expressions of gender and sexuality is fostering cross-cultural connections and understanding as well as clashes and contestations. While Islamists attack the popular serials for tainting an imagined pure Afghan Islamic culture, their large fan base find them liberatory in many ways. In this paper I study the most prolific of these foreign imports, namely from India, Iran, Turkey, and Latin America. Specifically I explore how the cultural codes and aesthetics of these programs have been interpreted, politicized, and violently debated by different audiences, government officials, and media executives. In other words, how do different publics differentiate between Hindu, Islamic, and Persian forms of self-expression, performance, and embodiment and situate their own their own dis/identification and dis/taste vis a vis their perceived cultural notions?

Wazhmah Osman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production at Temple University. Her research focuses on global and transnational media, media development in conflict and post-conflict areas, democracy, and public sphere formation. In her upcoming book based on her multi-year ethnographic fieldwork in Central and South Asia, she analyzes the impact of international funding of media and cross border media flows on regional politics. Her work also investigates the politics of representation and visual culture of "The War On Terror" and "Afghan Women" and how they reverberate globally and locally in her native Afghanistan.

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