Alternative Arab Media and the Paradoxes of Globalism
There is no doubt that the Middle East is in the midst of an information revolution. A wide array of satellite television stations has erupted onto the Arab world exemplifying an unprecedented media momentum. While phenomenal, the revolution in the Arab world is also intricate insofar as it has engendered a complex mediascape. With the recent world developments and the so-called War on Terrorism, the new outlets have gained an unprecedented relevance. This paper explores the paradoxes of what I call alternative media in the Middle East region and how these new media are renegotiating the dynamic relationship between the local and the global. This alternative media is not only putting into question the common discourse on the pervasiveness of information globalization, but is also reinstituting a balance or at least a symbolic equilibrium between the Occident and the Orient. While the discourse on globalism is championing the other and facilitating a kind of rapprochement between diverse entities and allegiances whether they be cultural, philosophical or ideological, the alternative media under examination is widening the consciousness of an ever increasing rift between the East and the West. These discordances might not be a side effect of globalization as much as they are its Janus face. Part of what distinguishes alternative media in the Arab world is its antinomian nature in the sense that it finds itself caught up, for lack of a better word, between two antinomies. On the one hand, it is (post)modern and professional in the Western sense of the term; it uses the best technical skills, tradition, and journalistic practices that the West has to offer. On the other hand, it does not tell the same version of the story or report the same type of news we hear on Western media. It uses these means and assets precisely to advance ideas and views that contradict and doubt the West, and in the process it defines and asserts itself. It is the manifestation, extent and implication of this hybridity that this paper hopes to unravel.
Mohamed Zayani (United Arab Emirates)
Associate Professor of Critical Theory
Dept. of English and Mass Communication
American University of Sharjah
(30min Paper Presentation, English)