NU-Q Prepares for New Dean

June 23, 2020

Marwan M. Kraidy, an authority on Arab media and a global communication scholar, will be joining Northwestern University in Qatar as its new dean and CEO on July 1st. Earlier this month, Kraidy spoke at a webinar hosted by Northwestern’s Buffett Institute for Global Affairs on the effect of COVID-19 on global media and geopolitics.

Kraidy’s research centers around the relationship between culture and geopolitics, theories of identity and modernity, and global media systems and industries. He is also an expert on the Middle East and fluent in Arabic. He has published 13 books and edited volumes, authored 130 essays and chapters, and was the recipient of more than 50 awards for teaching and scholarship.

His latest project, which received a grant from the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program, is a book that will explore the rise of the Islamic State through the implementation of "war machine" communication and digital media tactics that spread fear, hostility, and global insecurity.

During his webinar with the Buffet Institute, Kraidy synthesized the media disruptions and changes resulting from COVID-19 into three main themes: “the tug of war” between the capabilities of democratic and autocratic systems, the tension between global solidarity and “national retrenchment,” and the resurgence of traditional transnational issues.

In the discussion of democratic versus autocratic systems of government, Kraidy said that the question that dominated these discussions was whether “the political system is a factor in how well a country handles the epidemic.”

These debates, Kraidy observed, soon “evolved into a more direct narrative confrontation” as people noticed that countries with leaders who exhibit “authoritarian tendencies," and have shown "disdain for science," seem to be doing worse, while those with female leadership and a science-driven approach, such as New Zealand and Germany, are doing much better.

Regarding the tension between global solidarity and “national retrenchment noted he how “the talk of borders suddenly emerged in full force.” He went on to say that the resurgence of border paranoia in the U.S. is what happens when a pandemic like COVID-19 adds fuel to an administration that has already exhibited behavior of “national retrenchment.”

The resurgence of transnational issues, Kraidy said was another effect of the pandemic. “U.S. activists for social justice and equality are leading the world,” he said, “in the places where the U.S. government has failed.”

Commenting on the protests that have occurred in the wake of the death of George Floyd, he said that they not only ignited “a full awakening of injustice and inequality in the U.S.,” but also “triggered global actions all over the world.” These actions are, he said, "reviving the embers into flames of all the…struggles…whether they are against local dictators or the memory and history of imperialism and colonialism."

Kraidy is joining NU-Q from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania where he has served as associate dean for administration and Anthony Shadid Chair in Global Media, Politics and Culture. In 2013, he founded the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication.

Kraidy earned his bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Notre-Dame University in Louaizé, Lebanon, and his Lebanese baccalaureate in humanities at Saint Joseph College in Antoura, Lebanon. He holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from Ohio University, where he also earned his master’s degree.