The Clash of Digitalizations (Seminar)

Dr. Saud Al-Zaid
The Clash of Digitalizations

Seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Wednesday, 10-12 h, weekly, starting 25.4.2018, Hardenbergstr. 33, room 150

This course discusses the representation of Arabs in video games and the adverse effect it has on the collective political imagination. In the popular video game series "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare", Arab men are consistently depicted as the mindless throngs of the indistinguishable enemy. Anonymous military-aged Arab men become increasingly the exception to the laws of human rights, and become default targets for conventional and unmanned drone attacks. This devolution is seen through the lens of the changing nature of conflict through digitalization, the collapse of the nation state in Iraq and Syria, and the future of war. Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” theory has become the standard way of framing the conflict between “Islam” and the “West”. Setting aside the accuracy of that thesis, what are the consequences of this frame on the cultural production of the West in the so called Age of Terrorism? Through the lens of first-person shooter games (Call of Duty, CounterStrike, Player Unknown Battleground) and some select TV shows (24, Homeland, and Generation Kill), students will explore this topic in a discussion format. Students will be divided to explore the fictionalized world of their medium deeply, and then present to the class their findings. Participants will also have a chance to experience gaming café culture in Berlin and visits to C-Base and the Computerspielemuseum.

Leistungsanforderungen für den unbenoteten Studium-Generale-Schein: regular and active attendance, short presentations.

Focus:Orientieren, Forschen und Denken

Saud Al-Zaid is a scholar of radical Islamic thought and aesthetics. He specializes in the writings of Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), a literary critic and ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, and his aesthetic influence on the Salafis of Central Arabia and the Gulf. Al-Zaid holds degrees in Economics and Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago, a Masters degree in Arab Studies from the Center of Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, and another Masters in the Anthropology & Sociology of Religion from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. He completed his doctorate in Islamwissenschaft at the Freie Universität Berlin entitled “Modernity’s Other: An Intellectual Anthropology of Radical Islamic Thought”. Al-Zaid is based in Berlin and has given public lectures at Re:publica, the Berlin Biennale, Chaos Computer Club Congress, Computerspielemuseum, among others. More information on