Reframing Arbaeen Pilgrimage in Western Media through a Cultural Translation: A Framing Analysis


University of Tehran


As the world’s largest annual human gathering, Arbaeen pilgrimage is fast becoming an
international event in which, according to several pieces of published news in some of the
world’s top news agencies such as Independent, a number of people apart from Muslim
countries, from several non-Muslim Asian, American, African and European countries
participate. This remarkable event has adequate news values including impact, magnitude
and bizarreness, but it is underrepresented and/or misrepresented by the western media. It
deserves to be systematically discussed in academic discourse. This study made an attempt
to situate Western media’s representation of Arbaeen within the reframing theory by Baker
(2006)and the theory of cultural translation as introduced by Homi Bhabha (1994). The
main research question to be pursued by this study was how Arbaeen pilgrimage has been
reframed through a cultural translation by Western media in the last 10 years (from 2007
to 2017). To this end, news stories of the world’s top 10 news agencies covering Arbaeen
pilgrimage were chosen as the corpus of this study. The corpus then was analyzed according
to Baker’s (2006) narrative theory of translation that views translation as a reframing
practice. Unlike the mainstream idea that Arbaeen pilgrimage is underrepresented by the
Western media, the central argument here was that it is reconstructed and reframed within
negative news stories and introduced to unknown audiences as a dangerous event, while
this is a narrative with multiple positive implications including peace and solidarity among
the nations with volunteers distributing free food and drinks to pilgrims, as well as offering
places to relax, wash, and sleep only for Imam Hussein.