The Transregional Illustrated Magazine Al-Arabi

Knowledge Production and Cultural Imaginations in the 1950s and 1960s

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Bettina Gräf Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich) Germany München

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Laura Hindelang University of Bern Switzerland Bern

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This article investigates the transregional cultural magazine Al-Arabi (al-‘Arabi) during the late 1950s and 1960s under its first editor, the Egyptian scientist Ahmad Zaki. Founded in Kuwait, the magazine’s establishment and sociocultural-political agenda are reconstructed within the context of Kuwait’s cultural diplomacy and pan-Arabism during decolonization and early Cold War politics. Al-Arabi offered timely discussions on Arab cities, gender, literature, politics and science, and readily embraced color photography for illustrations as a way of stimulating transnational understanding during times of substantial change in the region. Consequently, an analysis of Al-Arabi provides insights into historical strategies for re-imagining the region from within. Overall, the magazine can be situated in a long-standing tradition of Arab printing and publishing, while also forming part of a global illustrated magazine culture. Using a transdisciplinary approach, the article combines archival research and interviews with the media-historical and art-historical analyses of text, image and graphic design.

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