Humor Against Hegemony: Al-Hurra, Jokes, and the Limits of American Soft Power

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
William Lafi Youmans
Search for other papers by William Lafi Youmans in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



In 2004, the United States launched an Arabic language satellite television station, Al-Hurra ('the free one'). As a mass media outlet designed to enhance American geopolitical influence, it is considered one manifestation of a 'soft power' strategy. Soft power, however, is only effective to the extent that it can rely on 'willing interpreters and receivers'. This article considers humor in Al-Hurra's workplace and among its intended audience as a gauge of the availability of such interpreters and receivers. Humor, this article contends, reflects greater political discourses and attitudes, and therefore outlines the limits to American soft power in Arab regions.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 436 116 13
Full Text Views 169 5 0
PDF Views & Downloads 49 5 0