Producing The New Regressive Left: The Case of the Pan-Arab News TV station al-Mayadeen

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch


This thesis is the first comprehensive research work conducted on the Beirut based TV station, an important representative of the post-2011 generation of Arab satellite news media. The launch of al-Mayadeen in June 2012 was closely linked to the political developments across the Arab world in the aftermath of the 2011 uprisings, and can be seen as a direct reaction to the editorial line that al-Jazeera followed in covering those very events. Drawing on a wide variety of programmes from the station’s first four seasons on air, as well as interviews conducted with several of the station’s staff members, this thesis investigates a growing political trend and ideological discourse in the Arab world that I have called The New Regressive Left. On the premise that a media outlet can function as a forum for ideology production, the thesis argues that an analysis of this material can help to trace the contexture of The New Regressive Left. If the first part of the thesis lays out the theoretical approach and draws the contextual framework, through an exploration of the surrounding Arab media-and ideoscapes, the second part is an analytical investigation of the discourse that permeates the programmes aired on al-Mayadeen. Through five chapters, I investigate the public celebration of the former Algerian resistance fighter Jamila Bouhired; the station’s approach to Palestine and its relaunch of a heroic resistance narrative; the cultural talk show Bayt al-Qasid and the discussion of what it means to be a committed artist, and how that translates into supporting al-Assad’s rule in Syria; the Ramadan programme Harrir Aqlak’s attempt to relaunch an intellectual renaissance and to promote religious pluralism; and finally, al-Mayadeen’s cooperation with the pan-Latin American TV station TeleSur and its ambitions about establishing a media network across ‘the revolutionary global South’. All of this shows, I argue, the contextures of an ideological discourse that promotes progressive values inherited froma leftist tradition, although it often translates this heritage into regressive political realities. What becomes clear from the analytical chapters is the emergence of the new cross-ideological alliance of The New Regressive Left. This emerging coalition between Shia Muslims, religious minorities, parts of the Arab Left, secular cultural producers, and the remnants of the political,strategic resistance coalition (Iran, Hizbollah, Syria), capitalises on a series of factors that bring them together in spite of their otherwise diverse worldviews and agendas. The New Regressive Left is united by resistance against the growing influence of Saudi Arabia in the religious, cultural, political, economic and military spheres alike; the depicture of Syria and bilad ash-Shamas the manifestation of this resistance; the rejection of the ‘Arab Spring’;the belief that a global outlook is a necessary strategy to counterbalance Western imperialism; and, not least, fear for the future. This fear is rooted in the self-perception of the entities that form The New Regressive Left; they all see themselves as minorities constantly under threat and thus opt for the preservation of the status quo.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDet Humanistiske Fakultet, Københavns Universitet
Number of pages194
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

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