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Mass Media, Modernity, and Development: Arab States of the Gulf, by Fayad E. Kazan. Foreword by Frederick Frey. pages, maps, tables, figures.
Table of contents
- The Crisis of Citizenship in the Arab World
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- Mass Media, Modernity, and Development by Fayad E. Kazan - Praeger - ABC-CLIO
The purpose of this study is to analyze the role WANA might play in the emerging new world order and its possible identity as a political space. This is not a new topic in Middle Eastern studies. However, most of them focus on current problems in international relations in the region and do not analyze the place of the region in the global system of international relations. In Russia, the tendency towards studying Middle Eastern issues in relation to global political trends has emerged only recently. In my article, After Postmodernism: Middle Eastern Dimension of One Trend Kuznetsov, , I outlined some general guidelines for studying correlations between the ongoing changes in the Middle East and global political transformations defined as the end of post-modernity.
Those ideas were further considered in a paper co-authored with I. Zvyagelskaya Statehood in the Middle East.
The Crisis of Citizenship in the Arab World
Global Trends and Their Regional Realization, Zvyagelskaya compares the impact of global development trends on political processes in the two regions Zvyagelskaya, Political scientists V. Naumkin and V. Baranovsky, who wrote the foreword to the collective work, The Middle East in the Changing Global Context, focused on both specific features of global mega trends in the Middle East and on the formation of distinct regional trends that largely determine the international environment within the region Naumkin, Baranovskiy, et al.
Some political analysts study the possibility of reorganizing the political space in WANA by using the world historical experience of international relations. It has become quite popular to look for global but essentially European historical analogues of the current situation in the region. Sazak and L. Kamel , on the one hand, and B. Simms, M. Axworthy and P. Among the various works addressing these issues, some recent ones deserve special mention: The Idea of the Muslim World.
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Naumkin , V. Baranovsky , L.
Fituni and I. Abramova I will return to their ideas in the sections below, but first it is necessary to determine the key points to be considered:. In this article I will use the definition proposed by Russian expert A. First expressed in international studies in the early s essentially after the collapse of the bipolar system of relations, views have become quite widespread recently that the world order is in crisis and critically unstable, and that the efficiency of international institutions is declining and losing public trust Lapkin, , p.
The Russian political and academic communities spoke loudly about the emergence of a new world order, thus naturally raising the question of periodization. Either the world entered a completely new period of development in , which means that there existed some kind of specific apparently unipolar world order before that , or it did not, and in this case the current situation should be viewed as a new stage of processes that were set in motion in the s A.
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Nikitin and V. Baranovsky favor the latter approach, while V. Lapkin , R. Haas , J. Nye , and many other authors uphold the former. Both points of view have many supporters and opponents, and their disputes are not always academic. Essentially, this is a clash between two completely different political concepts, each suggesting the formation of an intellectual basis for foreign policy strategies developed by different actors.
One approach quite popular in Russia, in which a catastrophic view of the situation Barabanov, Bordachev, et al. This logic suggests that the very acknowledgement of a crisis may be considered not as the result of an unbiased analysis of relatively objective reality, but as the expression of a changed self-perception by actors-observers. Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and others speak about a crisis because they are seeking to reevaluate their own role in world politics, and in so doing they are creating this crisis, or so status quo proponents claim.
At the same time, such a constructivist approach must not be absolutized. For all the importance of subjective factors, the world disorder is obviously caused by certain objective elements of reality, such as economic growth in Asian countries, the emergence of a new technological mode, the crisis of the nation-state model created as part of European political culture, etc. Therefore, on the one hand, overcoming this crisis would obviously require a compromise between several global political projects and, on the other, efforts to adapt international political reality to the new socioeconomic and technological conditions.
All this creates uncertainty not only about the general outline of the future world order, but also the very possibility of building it. In this case, conglomeration theories of the modern world described by A. Bogaturov gain more points. A key problem is that any author who tries to describe the contours of a new world order must not just be confident that it is possible, but also has to rely on existing models of organization from previous periods. This explains the secondary nature of all constructs that fail to take into account the fundamental dissimilarity of new historical conditions.
However, one can look at this issue from a broader angel than solely through the lens of international relations.
Mass Media, Modernity, and Development by Fayad E. Kazan - Praeger - ABC-CLIO
If one considers international relations as one of the spheres of social life shaped by public conscience, it would be quite legitimate to correlate world order discussions with reflections on other spheres of social development. More than twenty years ago J.
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The 21st century has brought along a series of speculations about a postmodern world. Shortly thereafter critical theory, art and literary criticism were flooded with all kinds of modernisms, such as postmodernism, automodernism Samuels, , digimodernism Kirby, , altermodernism Bourriaud, , transmodernism Dussel, , metamodernism Vermeulen and van der Akker, , etc. The concept of neo-modernity we are referring to in this article is among them. While differing in detail and focusing on different aspects of modernity, all these theories nevertheless have something in common.
Even their names clearly show that their authors describe the contemporary period in relation to the era of modernity, thus turning themselves into captives of history and voluntarily rejecting the freedom of defining a completely new state of being. They always understand modernity as the overcoming of postmodernism and at the same time as its development. Born out of postmodern mentality, these theories study the world after the end of history, thus rejecting its predetermined teleological course and, therefore, consider its return to postmodernity impossible which is particularly evident in the theory of metamodernity Vermeulen and van der Akker, , p.
And yet, all of them appear to be quite serious and seek new meanings, while showing some frustration from an omnipresent postmodernist irony, which makes the search for responses to new challenges virtually impossible.
This seriousness stems from the realization of a completely new economic, technological and informational state of the modern world. Globalization for these authors is not an abstract project, but a fait accompli. This explains the rejection of Eurocentrism, the emergence of new spatial perception, N. Unlike other concepts, neo-modernity focuses on the analysis of political rather than aesthetic aspects and places emphasis on four key points which have already manifested themselves quite vividly in the political practices of several states in various parts of the world Kuznetsov, , but have been less analyzed in relation to international affairs Kortunov, First, the search for a new message and attempts to build new grand narratives, which completely lack trust.
Second, admitting fundamental instability and the transitional state of the new world, which may not and should not be overcome. Third, an appeal to the entire historical experience, instrumentalization of history, and broad use of premodern, archaic practices in search of a new narrative. And fourth, the inevitable use of postmodern instruments irony, skepticism, play , while formulating a new message. If these four points are extrapolated to the aforementioned views concerning a new world order, one can identify several of its key features in light of neo-modernity.
The WANA space will likely be drawn into this omnipresent world of neo-modernity, but its place in this world, its self-identity and manifestations of new trends in it need to be studied separately. Baranovsky and V. The authors elaborate on this thought further to show that colonialism and the anti-colonial struggle caused WANA, initially divided into at least four sub-regions, to become what we now know as the modern Middle East. Since colonialism and the national liberation movement it sparked in Middle Eastern countries were modern phenomena and the products of European Enlightenment hence their ideological content , the Middle Eastern region can also be regarded as the product of modernity.
Emerging as a kind of political unity in the middle of the 20th century when most Arab countries were gaining independence, the appearance of the Middle East was driven, firstly, by Arab nationalism, which had proclaimed the unity of all Arab countries; secondly, by the creation of Israel, the struggle with which at the initial stage became an important incentive for consolidating Arabs and strengthening their common identity; and thirdly, by the anti-colonial aspirations of the newly independent states.
Throughout subsequent decades, the borders of the region expanded to incorporate minor Arab Gulf states at first as its essential elements, which had gained independence slightly later than others, then Iran, which had rejected the Western way of development, and eventually Turkey, which had turned its eyes to the South. Finally, it incorporated Israel, even though initially it had antagonized its neighbors.
As a political region, the Middle East has a rather clear-cut inner structure. The weakening of the regional core and the strengthening of the flanks Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia were perhaps the main reasons for reformatting the Middle East in the 21st century. In addition, it was also in a way the product of modernity.
First of all, it bore and still does a clear imprint of post-colonialism.
Another important feature of the Middle Eastern subsystem is that states became key elements of its organization, albeit carried out in a quite modernistic way. Although formally claiming the status of nation-states, Middle Eastern countries have always been institutionally weak. As a result, the system they were building, which outwardly sought to copy the European experience with its powerful states and historical spatial organization, could never be implemented fully. As a result, state-centrism was replaced with regime-centrism and strong personalities, whereby the actual sovereign actors of this subsystem were political regimes often represented by concrete leaders.
This is partly reminiscent of Europe in the 19th century with its concert of powers. Personalism has had a direct impact on regional relations. The tough stance assumed by Arab leaders with regard to Muammar al-Gaddafi was largely provoked by their personal dislike for the founder of the Third International Theory Slackman, , while a personal conflict between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the emir of Qatar is believed to be one of the main reasons for the Qatar crisis Ramesh, At the same time, the institutional weakness of Middle Eastern states has prevented the formation not only of powerful supranational structures, but also of more or less efficient interstate political organizations that could have taken reginal cooperation to a new level.
The latter circumstance underscores the importance of nation-building in the region and the development of strong national pan-Arab, sub-regional or national historical narratives which theoretically should assert the idea of national sovereignty of individual states. This tactic has always been a cornerstone of relations in the region. Although different countries became pariah states at different times—Israel, Iraq, and most recently Iran—the existence of a pariah state has always been a sine qua non for regional consolidation.
Interestingly, the desire to rally against Iran is the main motif for the revival of Arab nationalism today Bin Saqir, The abovementioned characteristics also explain why competition between powers for leadership in the region was and remains the main driver of development. This competition has several facets: firstly, there is no obvious leader, although there are more than enough aspirants; secondly, each of the contenders is relatively weak, which makes it quite sensitive to any interference in its internal affairs threatening the stability of the political regime, and forces it to constantly seek the support of external players; thirdly, the composition of contenders for leadership, which are quite fragile inside, keeps changing, thus making it impossible to create a durable regional concert.
Each of the states considered to be regional pillars today—Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—has serious limits to its regional influence and is facing growing risks to political and socioeconomic stability. On the whole, the Middle East is a region that embodies the modernistic model of international relations. The region uses the practices characteristic of the era of modernity, when anarchic principles of regional relations were combined with strongly pronounced pragmatism and realism in the foreign policy behavior of key actors, coupled with their value-oriented foreign policy strategies.
All of these regimes reproduced the practices employed by the Soviet Union when it sponsored communist movements, and by the West when it promoted and advanced democracy. Notwithstanding all contradictions between realism and idealism in foreign policy, both without a doubt are characteristic of modernistic projects. Although the Middle Eastern region occupies quite a prominent place in the system of international relations, its modernistic concept has been eroding lately. The former tendency manifested itself in the aforementioned crisis in the core states the conflict in Iraq and Syria, the political and economic crisis in Egypt and before that in the actual abolition of the exclusivist model and the growing lack of consolidation between key actors in the region.