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Pan-Arab News TV Station al-Mayadeen

The New Regressive Leftist Media


Christine Crone

This book is the first comprehensive research conducted on the pan-Arab TV station al-Mayadeen – an important representative of the post-2011 generation of Arab satellite news media. Likewise, it is an investigation of a growing political trend and ideological discourse in the Arab world, which the book identifies as The New Regressive Left. The book sheds light on overlooked parts of the Arab population, which neither identified with the vision of the young activists initiating the uprisings, nor with the ambition of the growing Islamist tendency that followed. Rather it voices a grouping of Shia Muslims, religious minorities, parts of the Arab Left, secular cultural producers, and supports of the resistance movements brought together by their shared fear of the future.

Drawing on a wide variety of programmes from the station’s first four years and on interviews with staff members, the book captures how a TV station can play a role in the production of ideology through e.g. its composition of programmes, collaborations, events, iconization of cultural figures, choice of aesthetics, as well as through its recycling of cultural heritage and already existing ideological concepts. Overall, four ideological core concepts emerges, namely: the support of the resistance, the rejection of Sunni Islamism, the acceptance of authoritarianism, and the challenging of neoliberalism. Taking seriously a media outlet such as al-Mayadeen and the worldview driving an ideological discourse such as The New Regressive Left seems more acute than ever if we want to grasp the developments in a post-2011 Arab world.

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This book is drawn from research funded by the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Copenhagen, as part of its PhD scholarship programme. I am thankful for the opportunity I was given. Likewise, I am thankful to the Danish Institute in Damascus for awarding me travel grants that made my travels to and stays in Beirut possible.

First and foremost, I would like to thank Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen for his role as supervisor, his belief in the project, insightful comments and continued constructive encouragement. I thank Christa Salamandra for her engagement as co-supervisor, for inspiring discussions and for reminding me of the importance of the project when I, at times, started to doubt. Furthermore, I would like to thank Sune Haugbølle, both for sparking in me the idea to write a PhD in the first place, and for supporting me throughout the process when it became a reality.

I am grateful for the time spent at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen. The department has offered academic inducements, professional challenges and personal friendships. I am in debt to many, but would especially like to thank Andreas Bandak, my neighbour opposite, for being such a generous source of inspiration and advices. Thanks to Ehab Galal for always keeping ‘a considerate eye’ on me and to Saer El-Jaichi for productive conversations. I also thank all my PhD colleagues without whom it would not have been as edifying and joyful....

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