Kraidy examines evolution of soft power empires

November 09, 2021
Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Northwestern Qatar Dean Marwan Kraidy discussed soft power critique and narratives of media and empires outlined in the newly launched book, Soft-Power Internationalism: Competing for Cultural Influence in the 21st Century Global Order.
Kraidy joined the co-editors of the book, Burcu Baykurt and Victoria de Grazia, and global media scholars Paula Chakravartty and Maria Repnikova to examine how soft power came to define the period between the dominance of global capitalism in the 1990s and the resurgence of nationalism and authoritarianism today.
At a time when the United States’ global influence is straining, Kraidy pointed out, the overlap between soft and normative powers is used “to counter the discourse of U.S. decline with a renewed gloss on U.S. exceptionalism.”
He noted how soft power is used as emerging powers look to project their influence, noting that “the emergence of China, Brazil, and Turkey as global economic powers advanced trade and economic policies as integral parts of the concept in today’s globalized world.”
Drawing from studies on the politics of popular cultures and communication, Kraidy said the internet and emerging forms of circulations enabled several countries to project their influence through popular culture. He pointed to how the global circulation of Turkey’s soap operas on television channels all over the world helps promote Turkish culture globally. This has received a huge boost from Netflix because now it is “easy for anyone to just click a button to get a series of Turkish soap operas.”
Kraidy, who is now working on books about media, fire, and extremism and about the global circulation of Turkish drama, is a leading authority on global communication and Arab media, has published 13 books and edited volumes, authored 130 essays and chapters, and has won more than 50 awards for teaching and scholarship, including the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, one of the most prestigious prizes in the social sciences and humanities. He is known for his scholarly contributions on global media and politics through keynotes and lectures worldwide and has advised universities, civil society organizations, museums, foundations, and governments.