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  • Welcome to ALT Magazine & Press: Hazawi Prize Announces 2023 Shortlist: (Sana'a, Yemen) - The shortlist for the 2023 Hazawi Prize for Yemeni Literature has been revealed, announcing the ten writers who have been selected as finalists for this prestigious award.
  • Now in its second yearly round, the Hazawi Prize recognizes exceptional contributions to fiction in Yemeni literature. Organized by the Hazawi Cultural Foundation, this annual prize aims to promote Yemeni literature and support creative writers.
  • This year's shortlist features both emerging and renowned Yemeni authors. The ten works advancing to the final round of judging are:
  • - Abdullah Faisal shortlisted for his novel, Spirits and Secrets.
  • - Aisha Saleh shortlisted for her novel, Under the Ashes
  • - Farouk Merish shortlisted for his novel, A Dignified Stranger
  • - Ahmed Ashraf shortlisted for his novel, A Painful Belt
  • - Ghassan Khalid shortlisted for his novel, A Sky that Rains Fear
  • - Hosam Adel shortlisted for his novel, The Lord of the Black Dog
  • - Asmaa Abdulrazak shortlisted for her novel, Shrapnels
  • - Abdullah Abdu Muhammad shortlisted for his novel, The Road to Sana'a
  • - Najah Bahkeim shortlisted for her novel, The Final Decision
  • - Samir AbdulFattah shortlisted for her novel, What We Cannot See
  • The winner will be revealed at an award ceremony in Sana'a later where they will receive $1,500 USD. Second and third prizes of $1,000 USD each will also be awarded. All shortlisted works are celebrated for chronicling Yemen's rich culture and wartime experiences. This prestigious prize continues highlighting the nation's thriving literary community.

Media’s Colonization of Culture:  How Decolonizing Perspectives Offer Insight


Media’s Colonization of Culture: How Decolonizing Perspectives Offer Insight

by Hatem Al-Shamea



Today’s media landscape wields immense influence over globalized culture by impacting food preferences, consumer behaviors, ideological perspectives, and more. However, its power often stems from colonial legacies distorting indigenous ways of living and thinking that served communities sustainably for centuries. Applying postcolonial and decolonial theoretical frameworks provides critical lenses countering media’s promotion of homogenous Western-centered culture worldwide. Analyzing power dynamics sustaining such cultural colonization enables envisioning decolonized alternatives nurturing diverse local cultural flourishing.


Media’s Role in Cultural Formations


Media outlets help constitute collective imaginaries defining normality, progress and social prestige (Morley, 1980). Television, films, advertisements, music and news shape embedded assumptions about status symbols, proper behaviors and community traditions over generations. This cultural formation constitutes “soft power” manipulating subjectivities through subtle acculturation not crude force (Nye, 2004). However, indigenous communities often face subtle impositions eroding difference through normalization of foreign commodities, mindsets and modes of living (Fanon, 1963).


Such acculturation privileges narratives favoring Western economic and political dominance globally through naturalizing cultural tropes of individualism, consumerism and technocentrism linked to media platforms (McChesney, 1999). Platform centralization concentrates messaging control within fewer transnational corporations exploiting local vulnerabilities for profit (Herman & Chomsky, 1988). Global populations exist as markets for such cultural scripts while resisting challenges corporate-controlled colonial legacies perpetuating under globalization (Said, 1978).


Cultural Colonization Through Consumerism


Nowhere do media’s cultural impacts emerge clearer than through insidious consumer acculturation. Advertisements powerfully associate status, success and happiness to specific products promoting particular lifestyles as universally appealing benchmarks (Marchand, 1985). Yet normalized commodity culture often displaces intrinsic cultural practices served indigenous communities for sustaining dignified, ecologically-grounded living.


For example, fast foods like pizza, burgers and fried chicken gain prominence regardless nutritional deficits and taste preferences compared to locally sourced cuisines ( hooks, 1992). This promotes processed agribusiness tied to corporate advertising budgets over traditional sustainable farming (Mintz, 1985). Further, pop culture portrays junk foods as convenient status symbols reflecting youthful modernity (Roberts & Petchesky, 2000). Such glorified consumption props up neocolonial economic domination through manipulating tastes away from domestic substitutes (Ferguson, 1999).


Similarly, luxury automobiles, single-family suburban homes, expensive electronics and hyper-individualized leisure replace communal living normalized globally through media (Sklair, 1991; Kraidy, 2016). Marketers depict dependency on mass-produced commodities as personal freedoms, neglecting their costs to public health, local economies and planetary welfare (Bauman, 2013). However, indigenous alternatives prioritize interdependence, moderation and self-sufficiency through communal land stewardship, crafts and celebrations tied to rhythms of place rather than profit (Shiva, 2016).


Normalization of Foreign Cultural Artifacts


Media equally normalizes cultural artifacts from dominant Western nations as elevated benchmarks for national identity over truly indigenous equivalents. This subtly displaces diversity through falsely universalizing middle-class white norms (Césaire, 2000). For instance, Hollywood films frame American ideals of individualism, material success and youthful rebellion as dreams worth pursuing globally (Kaplan, 2011). Yet, such narratives often poorly translate between vastly differing cultural contexts and longstanding indigenous ways of being (Hall, 1992).


Similarly, pop songs dominate youth cultures with lyrics often glorifying consumerism, commodified sexuality and reckless individualism out of step with traditional communal ethics (K’naan & LyricsOnDemand, 2013). Anglo-American fashions also emerge conspicuously emulated globally through status-driven promotion, yet serve little purpose suited to local climates or cultural heritage (Miller, 2009). Meanwhile, endogenous arts, crafts, stories, recipes and aesthetic traditions risk disappearing from living memory through replacement by mass media imports (Anthropic, 2018).


Such normalized foreign cultural dominance reflects colonial heritage of assuming Euro-American cultural supremacy continuing under updated guises (Chari, 2008). It belittles diversity of expression across the world through subtly eroding dignity in indigenous cultural forms, knowledges and distinctiveness from dominant centers of geopolitical power that profit from widespread cultural colonization (Said, 1978).


Reorienting Media Towards Cultural Decolonization


Critically analyzing media’s cultural penetration through decolonial frameworks provides foundations for envisioning media reoriented to empowering locally-rooted diversity (Rodríguez, 2006). Platforms centered equity, autonomy and balanced exchange between all places could uplift human dignity meaningfully rather than manipulate global populations as masses culturally colonized and commercially exploited. A shift demands cultural producers and audiences alike awakening to normalized narratives serving neocolonial interests through subtle acculturation rather than malicious designs.


Important steps include prioritizing localization through translating imported narratives meaningfully between cultural contexts rather than literal transposition assumed universally appealing (Hall, 1992). Contextualizing meanings accounts for diverse lived experiences across the world. Elevating expressions truly representative of local ethics, histories, ecosystems and ways of being also counters trendy commodification of foreign cultural imports as status symbols detached from traditions meaningful to community life (Bhabha, 2004).


Resources decentralizing media production hands and voices could further remedy content skewed by profit motives tied to concentrated corporate messaging control. Small, locally-owned production houses could create cultural works reflective of community values, lived experiences and environmental contexts (Rodríguez, 2011). Increased media from the Global South could rebalance normalized Western cultural dominance through reciprocal cultural exchange celebrated in all its diversity, not commercialized exchanges privileging financial centers of dominant nations (Shohat & Stam, 1994).


Together, such steps decolonize cultural narratives away from manipulation disempowering diversity under the guise of universalized Western-centered cultural forms favorably profiting transnational corporate influence. They nurture informed cultural autonomy generating expressions meaningfully serving communities and planet rather than displaced consumption tied to ecological degradation and socioeconomic inequities (Quijano, 2000). Overall, awareness and accountability between content creators and audiences alike prove necessary for cultural decolonization countering media’s colonizing impacts through critical reframing and transformative structural change.




Media today powerfully shapes globalized culture through subtle colonizing acculturation affecting daily lives profoundly. However, cultural diversity proves crucial to collective flourishing, yet faces erosion through normalized narratives that subtly displace indigenous knowledge, ethics and identities serving local communities autonomously for centuries. Applying a decolonial lens elucidates concerning cultural impacts while envisioning alternatives centered balanced cultural exchange and meaningful localization over centralized corporate-driven cultural normalization privileging dominant centers of economic and political power. Overall, decolonizing perspectives prove necessary for empowering cultural autonomy worldwide through reorienting media as a force nourishing diversity, not subtle colonization that sustains inequities under updated guises.


A New Home – Nabila Al-Sheikh – trans. Hatem Al-Shamea

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