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Author Biography

Soumia Bardhan (Ph.D., University of New Mexico) is director of Global Communication Initiatives and assistant professor of Communication Studies at Kansas State University, where she also holds an affiliate appointment in the department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Professor Bardhan’s research focuses on the interactional dynamics of Western and Arab Islamic rhetorical traditions; the multivocal discourses and discursive practices within Islam; the rhetoric of Muslim minority groups; and the role of new media/social media in the cultural-political transformation of Arab societies in the Middle East-North Africa region.

Abstract

Using counterpublic theory as framework and situating the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a counterpublic, counterpublics being alternative, non-dominant publics who voice their oppositional needs and values through diverse discursive practices, the goal of this study is to: (a) Examine, in the context of the years preceding the 2011 Egyptian uprising, whether the Egyptian MB, as a counterpublic, portrays a deliberative ethic/voice in its cyber rhetoric; (b) Explore whether traditional/Western ideas of deliberation are upheld or challenged in the cyber rhetoric of the Egyptian MB; and (c) Comment on the role of Ikhwanweb, as a counterpublic sphere, in providing the Egyptian MB a space to demonstrate its deliberative potential. By looking for traits and evidences of deliberative ethic in the Egyptian MB’s cyber rhetoric—in a ‘text’ produced by an Islamist organization functioning within a secular/authoritarian socio-political ‘context’—the overarching purpose of this analysis is to make sense of : (a) an Islamist organization’s role as a counterpublic and its deliberative potential in a non-democratic setting; (b) the implications of this for thinking about deliberation between diverse groups of social agents in non-democratic cultures; and (c) the role of the Internet in facilitating counterpublics’ deliberative potential in authoritarian contexts. Thus, from a heuristic standpoint, this study is an endeavor towards contributing to a key question that animates public deliberation: how can we engage/engage with voices that hold (or are assumed to hold) anti-deliberative attitudes and/or those that operate within non-democratic socio-political contexts?

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