Communication Studies in the Arab World
Though the Arab World’s earliest encounter with mass communication studies goes back to 1937, when the American University in Cairo introduced its first journalism program,1 systematic thinking about media functions and effects in the region was only a mid-20th-century development. It was in the post-colonial era that modern Arab national media systems were established; media education programs launched; and international media theories embraced. But as available evidence suggests, the history of communication studies in the Arab world has been more about institutional development than intellectual enrichment. In the past eight decades, and especially since the mid-1980s, communication studies were institutionalized through academic journalism and mass communication programs (literally referred to in Arabic as Departments of Information or Aqsam Al I’laam), professional training and association, scholarly publications, international collaboration and media-themed events. In significant ways, the intellectual foundations of the field in this region evolved within the four broad areas of modernization, dependency, globalization and empowerment, owing their identity more to Western than to indigenous traditions.