Monthly Archives: March 2016

Media Studies 2.0 in Presidential Debate 2.0

Media Studies 2.0

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews / 28 March) – Not too long ago, the study of media would deal with the post-Gutenbergian mass communication through a small number of key forms like the printed books, newspapers, cinema, radio, and television. It was characterized by the writer or reporter shaping the ideas and opinions of the recipient or reader about the events.

This is what mass communications students call ‘Media Studies 1.0’.

With the advent of the computer technology and the paving of the information superhighway, there is now a murky distinction between the news producer and receiver. Gone are the days when the news production owners had the sole monopoly of the creation and production of the events’ narratives.

Through social networking sites, for instance, the ‘conventional’ news receiver could easily react to the news, thereby shaping the opinion of other ‘receivers’. Most often, the news of an event would shape the trend and even the outcome of that event.

In a speech a few years ago about the moral burden of the journalists or media people whom I described as the ‘modern-day poets’, I cited the case of a septuagenarian wife whose fellow septuagenarian husband was reported in the main news outlets to be missing. After sometime, the missing old man was found through the voluntary efforts of young netizens who had helped in locating him throughout Metro Manila and the surrounding towns.

This ambiguity concerning the news producer-versus-receiver and event-versus-news divide is dubbed ‘Media Studies 2.0’.

Once again, Media Studies 2.0 can be gleaned from the second round of Presidential Debate held in Cebu on March 20, 2016. Liberal Party Presidential Candidate Mar Roxas’ “Muslim na mananakop” (“Muslim invaders”) remark provoked various reactions from the social media.

For instance, immediately after the debate, Iyyah Sinarimbo, a young Muslim netizen posted at 10:41 pm (March 20) her “Open Letter to Mar Roxas” in her Facebook page. And it has instantly gone viral. So far, the post has already earned at least 500 ‘Likes’ and 6,796 ‘Shares’.

Then the social media reactions soon turned into another news item in both the print and online media platforms: “Pro-BBL Roxas Hit for ‘Muslim na Mananakop’ Line in Debate” (Rappler, March 21, 2016), “Mar Roxas Hit for ‘Trumped’ Muslim na Mananakop Remark” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 21, 2016) “Roxas Blasted, Defended for ‘Muslim na Mananakop’ Term in Presidential Debate” (Kicker Daily News, March 21, 2016), “Roxas Defends Self Over ‘Anti-Muslim Slur’” (Sun Star, March 21, 2016), “Mar Hit for ‘Muslim’ Remark” (Bandera, March 22, 2016), and “Must Read: An Open Letter from a Muslim Netizen For Mar Roxas Goes Viral on Social Media!” (Cebu and Davao Journey, March 22, 2016).

In a nutshell, Media Studies 2.0 deals with a news story (by the news ‘producer’) that may incite reaction (of the ‘receiver’) which may become another news story (news ‘receiver’ becoming ‘producer’) which, in turn, may elicit yet another reaction (by another ‘receiver’ to the news ‘product’ of the earlier ‘receiver’).

Be that as it may, the Election Day will tell if this online reaction would turn into an offline vote.

(Source: http://www.mindanews.com/mindaviews/2016/03/28/marginalia-media-studies-2-0-in-presidential-debate-2-0)

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Religion and Post-positivism in International Relations

world-religions-23163664

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews / 20 March) – Way back in early 1990s in Mindanao State University, main campus, in order to facilitate easy memorization, we had to literally sing the ‘six principles’ of Hans Morgenthau’s neoclassical realism in International Relations (IR).

No doubt, alongside Keohane and Nye’s Power and Interdependence (1977) and Kenneth Waltz’s Theory of International Politics (1979) that respectively represent two sides of the neoliberalism-neorealism divide, Morgenthau’s Politics among Nations (1960) had been the IR bible of the Cold War era.

IR as discipline

As a distinct discipline that was born out of the ashes of the First World War, IR deals with both substantial and methodological issues. In particular, it endeavors to identify which issues should be treated as the most important ones, and which method to use in studying a given issue.

State sovereignty, international anarchy, diplomacy, foreign policy, and international organizations and institutions are among the examples of substantial issues perennially dealt with in IR, and as such, countless written works are devoted to them.

Methodological issues encompass both ontological and epistemological questions. What is the nature of the social world which includes international relations? How is our knowledge related to that world? Is there an objective reality in the social world, or is everything there just a social construct of people? How can we acquire knowledge of that world? Is it through ‘explanation’ or ‘understanding’?

Gone were the days of IR positivism which used to privilege state-centric or inter-state substantial issues such as those mentioned above.

Gone also were the days of IR positivism which used to posit that ‘there is an objective reality out there’ (ontology) and that ‘explaining’ is the only way to acquire knowledge of the social world by means of building a ‘valid social science’ on the basis of verifiable empirical propositions (epistemology).

Religion

In positivist approaches in which secularism in the post-Westphalian international system is a given, religion is relegated to the fringes of domestic politics and private domain. In structural realism’s anarchical world, for instance, religious beliefs and ideological convictions are located at the bottom of the hierarchy of state interests.

This is no longer the trend in recent years.

Research works and studies about religion in IR – both in its positive and negative lights – are on the rise. Even in thesis defense sessions I sat either as a mentor or a panelist this month, the number of theses with religious underpinnings is quite conspicuous.

One thesis, for example, is about two Buddhist transnational societies that push for cosmopolitan causes such as humanitarian services, poverty reduction, universal education, nuclear disarmament, and environmental protection.

Another thesis is an analysis of Pakistan-Bangladesh diplomatic relations through the lens of faith-based diplomacy.

Yet another thesis is an assessment of Islamophobia in the U.S. media narratives and its impact upon U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Post-positivism

Alongside the surge of other substantial issues such as religion, women, and the environment, among others, which had been marginalized in IR literature for decades, there is also the entrance of post-positivism in the methodological debate within the discipline.

United not in what they commonly believe but in their dissatisfaction with the established IR theoretical traditions, post-positivist alternatives are challenging positivism’s postulates of an objective external reality, the subject/object distinction, and value-free social science.

Ontologically, post-positivist approaches reject any notion of an objective reality out there, for the social world is nothing but a product of intersubjective conception of people. Epistemologically, they lean toward ‘understanding’ (in contrast to ‘explaining’) as the means to obtain knowledge of the social world by comprehending and interpreting the substantive topic under study. In sum, post-positivism is anti-foundational in methodology, for, all theories make their own assumptions about the social world, and therefore, as Steve Smith argues, “There can never be a ‘view from nowhere’.”

In the aforementioned thesis about two Buddhist transnational societies, for instance, the researchers utilize the eclectic and middle-way International Society Theory, which is better known in the IR circle as the ‘English School of International Relations’, or the ‘English School’, in short. In particular, the thesis is informed of Barry Buzan’s concept of ‘world society’ (in contradistinction with the ‘international system’ and ‘international society’) which, according to him, is the “Cinderella concept” of the English School for receiving almost no conceptual development.

The second thesis which is about faith-based diplomacy employs Peter Katzenstein’s strand of social constructivism that highlights the internal makeup of states in affecting their internal behavior. Accordingly, the domestic normative structure of every state shapes its identity, interests, and subsequently, its foreign policy.

The last thesis mentioned above, which examines the influence of Islamophobia in American media narratives toward the U.S. foreign policy, is inspired by Anthony Giddens’ sociological theory of structuration, which is anchored in the analysis of both structure and agents, without giving primacy to either.

In conclusion, in today’s age of globalization, there will be a resurgence of substantial issues in IR, which for many decades were deemed peripheral or secondary in importance. There will also be parallel mushrooming of post-positivist theories that will pose as alternative lenses in methodologically looking at those substantial issues in IR.

Expect for a recurring saga of re-centering and de-centering in the years to come.

(Source: http://www.mindanews.com/mindaviews/2016/03/20/marginalia-religion-and-post-positivism-in-international-relations/)

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Forthcoming Publication: “Fulfillment of Trust”

Fulfillment of Trust

Sayyidah Tahirah Aghamiri, “FULFILLMENT OF TRUST,” trans. Mansoor Limba (London: MIU Press, forthcoming), 108 pages.

Table of Contents

Foreword 
Preface

Chapter 1 – The Status of Trust in the Qur’an and Sunnah 
Qur’anic injunctions to shun away from treachery 
The best of repositories and trustees 
The need to fulfil trust to non-Muslims

Chapter 2 – Divine Trusts 
Divine guardianship and vicegerency 
Life and soul 
The heart as a Divine trust 
Intellect 
Bodily limbs 
The asset of youth and age 
Intellectual awareness 
Family, spouse and children 
Children’s proximity to God

Chapter 3 – Spiritual Trusts 
Islam and religious laws 
Divine duties 
The Qur’an as a trust from God 
The concept of speculative interpretation (tafsīr bi’r-rayy) according to Imām Khomeinī 
‘Alawī guardianship (wilāyah) and Muḥammadan vicegerency (khilāfah)

Chapter 4 – Material Trusts 
The world and material things 
Methods of fulfilling financial and monetary trusts 
1. Endowment (infāq) 
2. Interest-free loan (qarḍ al-ḥasanah)

Chapter 5 – Government Trust and Sense of Responsibility 
Government and sense of responsibility 
Observance of propriety in assuming responsibility 
Trustworthiness as criterion for assuming responsibility 
Service to the people 
Keeping the secrets of people 
Giving importance to public property 
Protection of public property 
Personal profit from responsibility 
Trustworthiness as distinctive trait of the leaders in society 
The Islamic Republic 
Freedom 
People’s vote 
Unity of expression

Bibliography

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