This essay explores media industries in revolutionary times. Against the backdrop of the Arab uprisings, with specific references to Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia, I summarize shifts that have occurred in the transnational, pan-Arab media sphere and provide snapshots of national media systems in flux. The Arab uprisings have spawned a wide array of new media, including a variety of new television channels, online media portals, digital video series, comedy programs, talk shows, and religious content. How these institutional and aesthetic developments will be integrated into national and pan-Arab media industries is an important question. In addition, entertainment has become a major issue of contention as Islamists of various stripes have ascended to power in Arab Spring countries and have worked to morally reshape the media industries, encountering vociferous resistance from creative people in arts and media and from counterrevolutionary forces most clearly visible in Egypt, which is reverting to a military dictatorship. Though the current situation is too chaotic to predict future trends, this essay tries to raise questions about new dynamics of production, precarity, and authorship in still-evolving revolutionary contexts.
Published in Volume 1, Issue 2