Bidoun - # 26 Soft Power
Spring 2012. This issue of Bidoun explores art and patronage, state-sponsored media, cultural diplomacy, revolution and counterrevolution, nation and/or corporate branding, and potato chips (the chibsi challenge). For starters, there’s an in-depth profile on artist Iman Issa (in “Radical Subtraction), whose work was part of the recent New Museum Triennial, “The Ungovernables”, addressing issues of place, power and memory. Anand Balakrishnan has written a story “The Serendipity of Sand,” which ponders the ultimate civilizational soft-power gambit — the monumental ruin — and what that might have to do with the zebra’s beguiling stripes. Also featured is an essay by Bidoun senior editor Michael C. Vazquez “The Bequest of Quest,” which contemplates the curious legacy of Cold War magazines funded by the American CIA, including the Indian literary magazine Quest and the African journal Transition. As’ad AbuKhalil, the political scientist who blogs as The Angry Arab, discusses the political economy of Al Jazeera and Qatar’s foreign policy with Babak Radboy and E. P. Licursi. Then there is “Soft readers prefer hard covers” offering a selection of nation-state self-help books. The Middle East is where it’s at!