Ideology and Mass Media in the Arab 20th Century – Københavns Universitet

Forside > Projekter > Ideology and Mass Medi...

Ideology and Mass Media in the Arab 20th

Century Clues to the Decline of Secularism and the Ascent of Islamism


If we want to understand why Islamism has become a dominant force in Arab societies over the last forty years, we also need to pay attention to the relative decline of secular ideas in the same period. This research project investigates the role of cultural industries and mass media in particular in shaping ideological transformations in the Arab Middle East from 1967 to today. It posits that since ideology is mediated knowledge, mass media and the changing conditions for production and consumption of public culture should be central to the study of ideology. Through media histories of particular newspapers, magazines and TV channels, the projects investigates, first, what role media played in transforming the cultural crisis and ideological vacuum following the 1967-war into the Islamist movement that characterised the 1970s and 1980s. How did Arab states' virulent restriction and control of political groups and media influence counter-hegemonic ideologies? Has the arrival of a liberalised and transnational media scene since the 1990s facilitated the spread of Islamic norms and ideas in Arab societies? Or is what we are seeing more a continuation of Islamic countercultural production from the 1970s onwards which has now taken hold in the mainstream? Which strategies have secular elites - the traditional custodians of secular modernity - adopted to defend their turf in the cultural field? How have audiences responded? What has Saudi Arabia's ownership of many transnational Arab media meant for the ability of Islamist ideas to challenge the secular establishment across the region - and what has the Saudification meant for the ideological battles within Islamic groups?

Dr Sune Haugbolle has written on the politics and culture of war memory in Lebanon. Much of his work has dealt with the role mass media and public culture play in transforming political debates in Lebanon, Syria, and the wider Arab world. He is editor of The Politics of Violence, Truth and Reconciliation in the Arab Middle East (Routledge, 2009).