Browse this page at your own risk. It is dead serious and hardcore academic. Here you find a selection of my academic publications, which for the most part are Open Access, and downloadable for free. Still, if you for some reason are unable to obtain a copy of an article or chapter, contact me and I will try to assist you with this very important endeavor.
At first, he found it cute that she wanted to share everything with him, including re-chewing his gum, but he grew concerned that she could not get close enough. It was true. Sally just could not seem to ever be close enough. She longed to constantly get closer, to squeeze him tighter, for him to make love to her, deeper, and deeper. It seemed that the only way she could get any closer to him, would be to crawl inside of him.
He was unaware how long he and Sally had been sharing gum. In fact, chewing gum played no minor role in their love story, though he had no clue about the sticky beginning, which happened long before they’d even met — well, officially that is.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2020 A Superiour Guide to Performing the Academic Self, ASAP/Journal, Johns Hopkins University Press. FREE DOWNLOAD.
One should like to dedicate this essay to every academic one has ever observed in action. Thank you. It has been inspirational.
If you are a visual or performing artist, please substitute the word "academic" or "scholar" with the most self-indulged and pompous art critic that immediately comes to mind. Only then will the magic of the following paragraphs resurrect your soul.
OH! WHAT A SPLENDID INTRODUCTION
If one may be so bold: this essay gleans the best of two worlds. It is as if an elite, reputable anthropologist and an internationally acclaimed self-help guru had a baby. Here, one shares one's (infallible) conclusions and advice about how you can mold yourself into the perfect academic, the kind that everyone admires and bestows with respect, the kind that gets tenure. You will feel a sense of new direction, and we encourage you to let the glorious, inspirational quotes we have included lift your spirits for all eternity. One has even included a "Diversity 101" section at the end of this text in the unlikely event that you manage to concentrate for that long.
Peer-Reviewed Articles & Book Chapters
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2023. "Triggers and Tropes: The Affective Manufacturing of Online Islamophobia." Global Populism: Its Roots in Media and Religion, International Journal of Communication. DOWNLOAD FOR FREE
Islamophobia, the idea that Islam is an insurmountable cultural threat to Christianity and “the West,” is widely circulated online. Right-wing populists, affectively perform their identities and Islamophobic worldviews in ways that trigger fear, rage, and a range of other emotions in both themselves and sets of significant others. Here I examine typical online Islamophobic metanarratives, emotional triggers and tropes, and the ways in which they are designed to spread and heighten negative emotions and orchestrate collectives of political emotion. Using a Norwegian right-wing alternative media platform as an empirical example, I demonstrate how Ruth Wodak’s seminal work on “the politics of fear” can be paired with my conceptual framework “the politics of affect” to make better sense of affective performances of Islamophobia on social media.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2023. "Affective Witnessing of the Hijab: A Self-Inflicted Trauma" in T. W. Reeser (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Gender and Affect (1st ed., pp. 366–373). Routledge. DOWNLOAD FOR FREE
Infusing the Hijab with Affect
The hijab has been infused with affect for centuries on end. It is the perfect example of what Sara Ahmed calls a “sticky object” (2004, 89) through which affects move. Infused with desire, hijab has fueled orientalist fantasies of female harems and excited the (heteronormative) male gaze with the eroticized promise of the bodies that are “behind the veil.” Later, the hijab came to be imbued with disdain. In colonial discourse, hijab was perceived as backward, oppressive to women, and an obstacle to modernity and progress. It became “the white man’s burden” to “save” brown women. Ironically the very man at the forefront of “saving” Egyptian women from the alleged oppression of hijab was the president of The National League Opposing Women’s Suffrage in England (Ahmed 1993, 152–53). Suffice it to say, Lord Cromer’s engagement with gender equality was stunted at best. Decades later, emotional pleas to save the plight of women from hijab and backwardness, echoing colonial powers, were utilized, to back military invasions and wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere (Abu Lughod 2013, 46–47). These orientalist and colonial obsessions with hijab as a means of “saving” Muslim and/or brown women resurface in popular culture in Hollywood movies, in Disney productions, and through the massive production of books with titles like, “Behind the veil” (ibid.; Shaheen 2012). Berit Thorbjørnsrud (2005) brands them “the-truth-about-the-dreadful- life-behind-the-veil-books” and demonstrates how the genre both recycles orientalism and fabricates “truth.”
In contemporary Western Europe, hijab is no longer only a feature of the social imaginaries of a mythical far-away “lslamland” of deserts and female oppression (Abu Lughod 2013, 68–73.). Following the diversification of Western societies, the hijab is now visible up close. And its mere sighting is intensely emotionally triggering to certain social actors. Hijab is a sticky object so saturated with affect that scores of people rush to their keyboards to protest its mere sighting on their screens or streets. Frazzled, outraged, and provoked by the very existence of hijab in public space. Emotions run high and are continuously heightened and intensified. Antagonistic and highly emotional comments followed when Nadiya Husain, a hijab-adorning contestant participated and eventually won The Great British Bake Off in 2015. A near identical scenario unfolded in a Norwegian TV-cooking contest in 2019. Hell broke loose on social media in both cases.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2022. ‘Putting the Fun Back into Fundamentalism’: Toying with Islam and Extremism in Comedy. In B. Schweizer & L. Molokotos-Liederman (Eds.), Muslims and humour: Essays on comedy, joking, and mirth in contemporary Islamic contexts. Bristol University Press. FREE DOWNLOAD.
Comedians who poke fun at self-styled ‘Islamic fundamentalists’ often invoke the truism that ‘if we don’t ridicule religious zealots, then the terrorists have won’. Joking about Islam and extremism can come in many shapes and forms. The controversial Danish Muḥammad Cartoons and Charlie Hebdo’s satirical drawings are among the most notorious examples, not least due to the strong and violent reactions they spurred. These controversies also led to discussions on the boundaries of freedom of speech in satire (Godioli, 2020).
Nevertheless, there is a much wider spectrum of comedic engagements with the theme of Islam and extremism. For instance, we witnessed an upsurge in comedy on the topic after 9/11, which has paved the way for much of the English-language comedy about Islam and extremism that we see today.1 While post-9/11 comedies typically poked fun at al-Qaeda (and sometimes Bin Laden), today ISIS is a common target of ridicule within this genre.2 Such parodies quite literally ‘put the fun back into fundamentalism’ to borrow a joke from the renowned and talented British-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili.
While Western and English-language parodies of ISIS are often hailed for being daring and innovative, the truth is that comedians in the Middle East have also produced a plethora of ISIS parodies in Arabic. (…)
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2019. “The Politics of Affect: The Glue of Religious & Identity Conflicts in Social Media.” Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture, Special Issue on Religious Controversies. FREE DOWNLOAD.
Affect is a concept that has received increasing scholarly attention, but remains under-theorized. Affect theory often overlooks decades of anthropological, feminist, queer, and postcolonial scholarship on emotion. My approach to affect builds on this extensive scholarship of emotion. I use my online ethnography of a Facebook group that calls for increasing the public visibility of the cross and Christianity, as a springboard to develop and explore a variety of concepts that together build a conceptual framework on the politics of affect. I aim to address two theoretical gaps in affect theory in particular: 1) the lack of distinction between different emotions, and 2) the ways in which affect is performed, for someone, i.e. with a particular audience in mind. More specifically, we need to take into account that people perform affect in ways that contribute to amplifying, prolonging, or subduing conflict in social media. A national flag or a religious artefact can trigger a range of emotions, which can both bind and divide collectives. We need to grasp the intricate ways in which emotions fuel identities, worldviews, and their contestations, and how fake news can come to be perceived as affectively factual. This article does just that, it helps deepen our scholarly understanding of the role of affect in politics, how affect is performed, and what different emotions ‘do’. The role of emotion in religious conflicts and identity politics is not simply analytically useful, but is, at times, the very fabric of which political ideas are made of.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2018. “Nationalizing Christianity & Hijacking Religion on Facebook.” In Contesting Religion: The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflicts in Scandinavia, edited by Knut Lundby. De Gruyter. FREE DOWNLOAD.
Yes to wearing the cross whenever and wherever I choose (YWC) is a Facebook group that was established in November 2013 to campaign for the right of a television news anchor to wear a cross pendant. YWC with its more than 100,000 likes, swiftly became a locus for discussing religion in society in general. A range of participants, with various agendas and modes of interaction are drawn to YWC: conservative Christians, nationalists, humanists, fervent secularists, and ardent atheists – ‘hijacking religion’ in multiple ways. Among those positive to Christianity, it is for the most part construed as either a religion of ‘identity’ or ‘compassion’. This chapter builds on ethnographic research and focuses on the generic positions, repetitive patterns of communication, writing styles, and modes of enacting the conflict(s). There is a particular emphasis on how people’s emotions, narratives, and worldviews shape the way they en- gage with mediatized conflict and play into the internal group dynamics.
Lundby, Knut, Hjarvard, Stig ,Lövheim, Mia and Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2018. “Perspectives: Cross-Pressures on Public Service Media.” In Contesting Religion: The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflicts in Scandinavia, edited by Knut Lundby. De Gruyter. FREE DOWNLOAD.
Through online services, the Scandinavian public service broadcasters have managed to retain strong positions as public service media (PSM) among the audiences in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Social and political changes in the Scandinavian populations influence the ways PSM involve themselves in conflicts that relate to religion. The growing cultural and religious diversity of the Scandinavian countries, along with digitalization and commercialization, shape PSM publics with varying, and perhaps conflicting, interests and needs. This has put the PSM under political pressure to alter their programming. On the one hand, their obligation to provide a common, and perhaps even a unifying, public space for the whole nation, in some cases, has become more pronounced. On the other hand, they are encouraged to take into account the multiplicity of voices and subcultures that exist among their audiences and users.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona & Liebmann, Louise Lund. 2018. “Gender, Diversity, and Mediatized Conflicts of Religion: Lessons from Scandinavian Case Studies.” In Contesting Religion The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflicts in Scandinavia, edited by Knut Lundby. De Gruyter. (Level 2 publication). FREE DOWNLOAD.
Drawing on empirical data from the Scandinavian project Engaging with Conflicts in Mediatized Religious Environments (CoMRel), this chapter analyses the findings from case-studies in: classrooms, online communities, public service media (PSM) production rooms, local news outlets, and interreligious dialogue initiatives. Gender and ethno-religious diversity receive particular analytical attention. We discuss the multiple ways in which various social actors in Scandinavia engage with mediatized conflicts about religion, and the ways in which dominant media frames are replicated, contested, and nuanced. A main finding is that mediatized conflicts about religion are symptomatically entangled in a dichotomy between good or bad religion, and that social actors in the diverse settings are often cast in the role of ‘the ideal citizen’ or ‘the religious other’. Despite attempts at going beyond enmeshed discourses of immigration and othering, and a general awareness of the dominant media frame ‘Islam as a bad religion’, the frame proves difficult to overcome.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2017. “Identity Politics in a Mediatized Religious Environment on Facebook: Yes to Wearing the Cross Whenever and Wherever I Choose.” Brill Journal of Religion in Europe 10 (4). FREE DOWNLOAD.
The Norwegian Facebook page Yes to Wearing the Cross Whenever and Wherever I Choose was initially created to protest the prohibition of the cross for nrk news anchors. Yet, many of the discussions and audience interactions transpired into heated religio-political debates with strong elements of anti-Muslim, xenophobic, anti-secular, and anti-atheist sentiments. This study aims to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the interplay between media and religion by providing new insights on the variety of ways in which media audiences may ‘add a series of dynamics to conflicts, namely, amplification, framing and performative agency, and co-structuring’ and ‘perform conflict’, as formulated by Hjarvard et al. It is argued that mediatized conflicts with inherent trigger themes, which tug at core religio-political identity issues, also tend to evoke emotional responses, which, in turn, inspire social media users to perform the conflict in ways that multiply the conflict(s).
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2016. “Conflict and Affect Among Conservative Christians on Facebook.” Online - Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet Volume 11. FREE DOWNLOAD.
Drawing on the ethnographic study of the Norwegian Facebook group Yes to wearing the cross whenever and wherever I choose, this article focuses on the emotive performance of conflict. The author delves into the multitude of ways in which emotion appears to drive the conflict(s) in Yes to wearing the cross whenever and wherever I choose. This Facebook group, by virtue of dealing with religion and identity issues contains typical trigger themes, which may lead audiences to emotively enact conflict. Still, these modes of enactment of conflict cannot be understood as a characteristic of religious strife alone. Drawing on Papacharissi’s concept of ‘affective publics’ this article compares the modes of conflict performance, the most salient frames, trigger themes, and emotive cues in this Facebook group to findings from other studies about mediatized conflict. The analysis demonstrates that mediatized conflicts appear to be emotively performed in very similar, at times even identical ways, across a variety of themes and contexts. Participatory media audiences’ tendency to remediate conflicts in ways that draw on an abundance of emotional cues appears to be integral to the enactment of mediatized conflicts. It is argued that we ought to speak not only of affective publics but also of the politics of affect.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2016. “Let’s Talk About Sex: Counselling Muslim Selves Online.” CyberOrient 10 (1), published by The American Anthropology Association. FREE DOWNLOAD.
Islam Online Arabic, and particularly the counselling service Problems and Solutions, received harsh critique for being too ‘open’ or even ‘un–Islamic’ in their views and dealings with sensitive topics, not least with regards to sexuality. The counselling service Problems and Solutions can be considered the emblem of Islam Online’s efforts to unite secular and Islamic perspectives and relate to contemporary Muslims’ real lives and problems. Counsellors argue that there is a total lack of sexual education in the Arab world, a problem which must be faced head on. Problems and Solutions questioners could ask the most intimate of questions without shame or embarrassment. This article provides an overview of the types of questions about sexuality and sexual relations that questioners sent to Problems and Solutions counsellors. Moreover, the analysis sheds light on: 1) the various aspects of contemporary Arab marriages and taboo–ridden sexuality which counsellors believe to be detrimental to marriages, and 2) a variety of proposed local remedies, including encouraging men to aspire to the ‘new man’ ideal.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2016. “How Islamic Is Islam Online Counselling?” In Political Islam: Global Media and the Boundaries of Religious Identity, edited by Noha Mellor and Khalil Rinnawi. London: Routledge. BUY HERE.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona, and Van Eynde, Koen. 2016. “Golden Age Divas on the Silver Screen: Challenging or Conforming to Dominant Gender Norms?” Journal of African Cinemas 8 (1):11–27. FREE DOWNLOAD.
Egyptian cinema has been hugely influential throughout the Arab world, and has produced several divas. Fatin Hamama (d. 2015) and Soad Hosny (d. 2001) were very popular among their contemporaries and still continue to enchant audiences. Yet, there has been little systematic study of the cinema roles such enthralling divas were cast in. In this article, we discuss the genre melodrama, and the roles played by these two highly successful Egyptian actresses and stars over decades. We ask: to what degree do Fatin Hamama and Soad Hosny’s iconic screen characters conform to or challenge dominant gender norms? We broaden our inquiry so as to examine what characterizes the gender dynamics in the films that Fatin Hamama and Soad Hosny star in, thereby exploring what kind of male characters they are pitted against and how the gendered power dynamics play out in the storyline. The films we analyse, illustrate how numerous themes and narratives on class, patriarchy, education, modernity and nationalism overlap and play into the definition of power and relations across both class and gender. Against the backdrop of a highly politicised cinema, we discuss the various ‘state narratives’ or counter-narratives that appear to be informing the films, and demonstrate how productions from the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s betray wider political sentiments of their time. We argue that Fatin Hamama and Soad Hosny’s screen choices and famous stage personae developed in line with the capacity of the national modernist project to produce the desired results on the ground.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2016. “The Framing of the Islam Online Crisis.” In Media and Political Contestation in the Contemporary Arab World: A Decade of Change, edited by Lena Jayyusi and Anne Sofie Roald. The Palgrave Macmillan Series in International Political Communication. London: Palgrave Macmillan. BUY HERE.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2015. “Counselling Muslim Selves on Islamic Websites: Walking a Tightrope Between Secular and Religious Counselling Ideals?” Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture 4 (1). FREE DOWNLOAD.
This article focuses on the interactive counselling service Problems and Answers (PS), an Arabic language and Islamic online counselling service, which draws on global therapeutic counselling trends. For over a decade, PS was run and hosted by www.IslamOnline.net (IOL). Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this article aims to provide a layered, contextualized understanding of online Islamic counselling, through addressing the ‘invisible’, ‘behind the screens’ aspects of PS counselling and the meaning making activities that inform the online output. In particular, I examine: 1. The multiple ways in which ‘religion’ shapes the PS counsellors' counselling output, and 2. The extent to which secular and religious counselling ideals clash, in PS counselling. Drawing on a mixed methods approach, I demonstrate instances in which offline data nuance and generate new understandings of online data. The findings demonstrate the multivocality and variations in the PS counsellors' perspectives on both religion and counselling psychology, and shed light on possible tensions between professed ideals and actual online practices.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2014. “Sowing the Seeds of The Message: Islamist Women Activists Before, During, and After the Egyptian Revolution.” CyberOrient 8 (1), published by The American Anthropology Association. FREE DOWNLOAD.
This article focuses on the activities and experiences of a group of Islamist women activists, socialized within the ranks of Islam Online Arabic (IOL). These activists engaged in a range of significant social, political, and media practices, before, during and after the ousting of Mubarak; as individuals, as journalists, as counsellors, as agenda setters and creators of media campaigns. Drawing on longitudinal and ethnographic research, this article is able to highlight and document the continuities in modes of civic engagement and activism across multiple media platforms, organizations, and time. It demonstrates how these women’s activism continues to be framed by the (IOL) trope the message, which entails cultivation of self, social, and political awareness. The Egyptian revolution is theoretically conceptualized as a phase of liminality (Turner 1979). Liminality entails upheaval, fear, and promise. The article draws attention to the gendered experiences of the revolution including circumvention of patriarchal structures and the re-negotiations of gender norms. Upon conclusion, it is argued that the message has proven highly adaptable to shifting political scenarios. Indeed, the betwixt and between stage of liminality that Egypt was thrust into after the ousting of Mubarak, was particularly fertile soil for sowing and reaping the seeds of the message.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2013. “Islam Online Guides Spouses Towards Marital Bliss: Arabic vs. English Counselling Perspectives on Marital Communication.” In Muslims and the New Information and Communication Technologies: Notes from an Emerging and Infinite Field, edited by Thomas Hoffmann and Göran Larsson. Muslims in Global Societies Series. Dordrecht: Springer. BUY HERE.
This article is an ethnographic account of the Social Section of Arabic language Islam Online. It focuses on what Krüger has called the ‘hidden knowledge’ of religious websites. Drawing on longitudinal fieldwork in the Islam Online offices in Cairo, Egypt, this article brings forth and analyzes rich data about Islam Online employees’ work practices and meaning-making activities. Drawing on an organizational ethnographic approach, this article highlights new aspects of this influential Islamic website. More specifically, the author employs Linde’s concept of an ‘institutional narrative’ to conceptualize and analyze the strong institutional identity and corporate values that are in play in everyday work practices. Focusing on key tropes such as ‘the message’, ‘professional’, ‘pluralistic’, and ‘pioneers’, the article demonstrates how Islam Online’s Islamist institutional narrative includes a creation story and set of organizational values that play out in the execution of work tasks. Moreover, the author argues that the objective of the emic concept of “the message” is to contribute to both self- and societal-reform in the Arab world, and that Islam Online’s own work environment represents a micro-cosmos of this ideal.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2011. “The Islam-Online Crisis: A Battle of Wasatiyya vs. Salafi Ideologies?” CyberOrient 5 (1). FREE DOWNLOAD.
Islam Online has been one of the most prominent and stable Islamic websites since it was founded in 1997. However, in March 2010 Islam Online suffered a major crisis, which has come to be known as 'the IOL-Crisis'. This is a suitable case for exploring whether multiple layers of authority are at play in online religious communities(Campbell 2007). At the time of the crisis, I was conducting fieldwork with the social team of IOL-Arabic. This article provides rich ethnographic detail about the time before, during, and after the crisis – as experienced by the social team. I outline how the social team made sense of the crisis through producing crisis-narratives that draw on Islam Online's institutional narrative. Moreover, I illustrate how narratives about the crisis gradually shift to alternate explanations, in tact with new developments of the crisis. I conclude with reflections on what types of authority were drawn on during the IOL-Crisis.
Abdel-Fadil, Mona. 2011. “New Modes of Communication: Social Networking, Text Messaging, Skype: Egypt.” Edited by Suad Joseph. Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, Brill Online. FREE DOWNLOAD.
New Modes of Communication: Social Networking, Text Messaging, Skype: Egypt Abstract: This entry gives a brief overview of ICT usage in Egypt including user statistics, digital divide and popular websites. Counseling services on the popular Islamic website Islam Online (IOL) constitute the main focus of the entry. There is a particular emphasis on online marital counseling. IOL’s counseling services are the lens through which female use of ICT is examined, as both the users and producers of these services are primarily young women. Moreover, the interactive counseling services provide insight into the everyday marital concerns of Egyptian and other Arab women, and how they employ ICT to cope with such problems. Interactive counseling also illustrates what type of responses IOL users receive from ICT professionals, i.e. the online counselors. This entry sheds light on the last decade of IOL’s counseling services, in addition to recent changes to the website.