The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies presents
Social Change - Social Media:
The Dialectic Implications of Technology in Times of Revolution
featuring Miriyam Aouragh
Leverhulme Fellow, Communication and Media Research Institute, University of Westminster
The Arab uprisings and their ripple effects around the world have ignited great interest in the democratic potential of new information technologies. People are empowered through connected mobile phones, blogs and social media on a global scale. Initially this was understood as an empowerment to challenge authoritarianism and repression. Three years on, against the background of the aggressive imperial interests; the political economic context of neoliberalism and counter-revolutionary regime forces, these imaginings have taken a tense if not pessimistic form. The expanding influence of transnational corporate technology firms shapes the design and in due course usage of information technologies, with surveillance and propaganda becoming its main protestations. Nevertheless, the revolutions happened precisely because empires and dictators don’t enjoy full hegemony. Oppressed peoples come up with the most creative, persistent, and effective strategies for resistance as research on the Syrian online activist scene illustrates.
Dr. Miriyam Aouragh is Leverhulme fellow at Communication And Media Research Institute. Dr. Aouragh studied the implications of the internet as it was first (‘Web 1.0’) introduced in Palestine during her PhD at the University of Amsterdam, in particular the significance of this techno-evolution as it coincided with the outbreak of the Second Intifada. She then embarked on postdoctoral research at the Oxford Internet Institute (UK) where she investigated the impact of new techno-developments, such as blogging and social networking (‘Web 2.0’) on grassroots activism in Lebanon and Palestine. Since 2011 she began teaching and writing about the complex online-offline revolutionary dynamics in the Arab world at the Oxford Middle East Centre. Miriyam was awarded a Leverhulme fellowship to develop this into a critical study of new media in the paradoxical context of revolution and counter-revolution. Her work is published in several books and journals (see here) including Palestine Online (IB Tauris 2011). Her next book is about cyber imperialism, how the contradictions of capitalism shape the modes and meanings of resistance in the era of revolution.
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