Twelve cartoons, published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, nine cartoons published in the Tehran newspaper Iran in May 2006, and 282 cartoons curated in Tehran in September 2006 provide a useful case study in the experimentation with new and old media in the transnational circuitry.

At stake are the agons, polemos (Greek terms of reference), or luti-jahel-darvish, “Karbala paradigm,” and jumhuri-ye moral struggles (Persian terms of reference) in Iran and the West over creating and protecting robust public spheres and civil societies. Four perspectives are probed: cultural politics; cultural media histories; the emotional excess (jouissance, petit à) of cultural politics; and the deep play mode of aesthetic judgement formed between the practical and ethical, between political economy and expressive art (including political drama), and between individual self-fashioning on the one hand, and on the other hand changing symbolic and social orders.

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