At the International Communication Association (ICA) 67th Annual Conference, held in San Diego last weekend, Marwan M. Kraidy, Ph.D., the Anthony Shadid Chair in Global Media, Politics, and Culture and Director of the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication, received the Outstanding Book Award for his 10th book, The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative Insurgency in the Arab World (Harvard University Press).
The award honors a Communication book published in the previous two calendar years and judges books on several criteria, including the importance of the problem it addresses to the fields represented in ICA and to communication studies as a whole; the quality of writing and argument; and the strength of evidence it presents.
The Naked Blogger of Cairo, which is coming out as a trade paperback in July, explores the creative insurgency behind the Arab Spring: its self-immolations, graffiti, puppetry, videos, slogans, and satire. What Kraidy found by looking at so many manifestations of protest is that at their core, they had one thing in common: the human body. The book elaborates a theory of the physical, symbolic and metaphorical roles of the body in activism worldwide.
The book is structured as 38 short essays of two to five pages each, offering accessible vignettes of vivid, compelling characters in the Arab Spring.
The book’s title comes from a chapter on Aliaa al-Mahdy, a blogger and Communication student from the American University in Cairo who famously posted a full frontal nude photo of herself online, along with her political beliefs. Other characters in the book include Sprayman, a mythical character who sprays graffiti at night; Captain Khobza (Captain Bread), a superhero fighting the hunger and poverty caused by corruption, pillage, and repression; and Qahera, a Muslim feminist superhero who lassoes Western activists who want to “save” Muslim women.
Research for the book was made possible by prestigious fellowships from The American Council of Learned Societies, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Edward Said Chair in American Studies at the American University of Beirut.
During the conference, Kraidy also won a second book award — the ICA Division of Global Communication and Social Change’s Best Book Award — for The Naked Blogger of Cairo.
Kraidy is the only person to have won this award twice, previously having received it for his 2010 book, Reality Television and Arab Politics: Contention in Public Life, which also won the The 2011 Diamond Anniversary Best Book Award from the National Communication Association, and the 2011 Roderick P. Hart Outstanding Book Award, from the Political Communication Division of NCA.