'Freedom's a Lifestyle Choice': US Cultural Diplomacy, Empire's Soundtrack, and Middle Eastern 'Youth' in our Contemporary Global Infowar

in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
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Abstract

The point of entry for this article is contemporary globalization, in particular its triumphant tone and promise of an alternative and improved global political arrangement. Although accepting that many of the most visible cultural expressions of globalization are American, contemporary accounts seem inadequate to address how globalization is more specifically providing the infrastructure for America's global dominance of 'benevolent supremacy.' Such an endeavor cannot be described simply in terms of a traditional colonial project, but rather as a pursuit of hegemony through techniques of government, modernization, and development, driven by the themes of American social doxa. With today's shift from an iron curtain ideology to a velvet curtain of culture, how is one to understand the current disjuncture(s) between the economy, communication, culture, and politics – this globally variable synaesthesia? This article, therefore, attempts to highlight today's mechanisms of control, as well as hip-hop culture's particular attempts to counteract our contemporary technopoly through its formation of alternative public spheres. Cultural campaigns are increasingly becoming the primary front to today's post-modern political economy. Through an investigation into the sensory assault of contemporary globalization across the Middle East, this article strives to re-work conventional approaches to the relation ship between commerce, communication, and culture in the region. The article concludes by interrogating what our soundtrack of globalization sounds like today, as well as the possible lessons to be learnt from those lost tapes of freedom which directed previous generations.

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