Student research focuses on alternative media

An interior view of Northwestern University in Qatar.

Doha: Sahar Bou Hamdan, a student at Northwestern University in Qatar, has had original research on alternative media in the Middle East published in the Central European Journal of Communication, a rare and unique achievement for an undergraduate student.

Bou Hamdan co-wrote with a student from Georgetown University in Qatar, Bouthaina El-Kheshn, an article, Revolutionary Music in Lebanon and Egypt: Alternative imaginaries for self-representation and participation.

The two students first developed their research for a course, Alternative Media in the Middle East, taught by Professor Joe Khalil at Northwestern Qatar.

Under the mentorship of Professor Khalil, Bou Hamdan and El-Khesn presented the paper at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).

At the conference, the research caught the attention of IAMCR President, co-editor of the Central European Journal of Communication, a peer-reviewed publication that engages critical discussions of communication and media across the world, and they were invited to consider submitting to the journal.

Students examined music that incorporates groundbreaking elements in the art of lyrics, melody, harmony, and rhythm. They explored how the artists – the group Cairokee from Egypt and DJ Madi K from Lebanon, as subjects of structural challenges, played their role as a form of alternative media. Through their extensive research, students propose that music is an effective way to build community as they demand and unite “revolutionaries” in their efforts for change and reform.

“Alternative media is often used as a tool for the marginalized, allowing them to represent themselves and make their voices heard,” the students wrote in their abstract.

“These communication tools become vitally important in revolutionary contexts, where people rise up to stand up against the injustices of their respective governments. In particular, groundbreaking music serves as a form of alternative media that motivates and mobilizes a fragmented audience into a united crowd,” they added.

“Working with Sahar and Bouthaina on this project has been a joy,” Khalil said.

“Their research encountered unexpected obstacles, mainly due to the limitations of Covid-19. Yet they were very resourceful, and every step of the way managed to exceed expectations,” he added.

Having mentored many students over the years, Khalil encourages his students to go the extra mile and bring their discoveries to life.

“Any project you do for a class should have a life beyond the classroom,” he said.

Northwestern Qatar Dean and CEO Marwan M Kraidy noted that students and faculty at the school conduct research that is widely recognized in academia.

“It is unusual for undergraduates to have the opportunity to present their research at international conferences – and even more remarkable to have it published in peer-reviewed international journals. This does not happen without the commitment and mentorship of our faculty.

Congratulations to Joe, Sahar and Bouthaina for such a great achievement,” said Kraidy.

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