Cultural Policies in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia

If we accept that the global concept of culture in relation to cultural policy has evolved from “the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group”1to “what human beings produce, not what they inherit,”2and acknowledge that culture is now universally perceived as a productive sector and not just a service sector, then cultural policies in the Arab world appear out of step, erratic and, at best, inching their way toward some vague horizon. However, culture as a ‘discrete’ and fully-fledged concept is a relatively recent phenomenon.

In the Arab world, most governments only acquired separate ministries of culture well after they became independent nations. (It took Lebanon until 1994.) We should also bear in mind that here, as elsewhere, the term “cultural policy” only acquired currency relatively late in the 20th century. Before then cultural action was steered by cultural conditions, practices, trends or opinions that took their cue from or were deliberately shaped by national political policy.


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