Identity and Activism in the Arab Spring and Beyond

Identity and Activism in the Arab Spring and Beyond

Featured Speaker:
Dr. David Faris
Director of International Studies, Roosevelt University

January 23rd, 2013


The Arab Spring has raised important questions about the effects of digital media technologies on political and social systems in the Middle East. Digital media technologies played a significant role in the Egyptian uprising, which was planned and successfully publicized online by veteran digital activists who had spent years challenging state power together through the Internet . This is not to say that they were solely responsible for the events in Egypt, but digital media technologies played catalytic or amplifying roles in uprisings from Bahrain to Syria and Tunisia. There now exists a well-established and burgeoning literature about the effects of social media technologies on collective action, and while there are dissenters it is almost certainly true that digital media have aided opposition movements in authoritarian countries to lesser or greater extents depending on a host of institutional variables that differ from setting to setting. Challenging state power in the streets is one thing — but might digital media have the capability to alter long-run self-perceptions of identity as well? “Identity and Activism in the Arab Spring and Beyond” will explain not only how digital media helped catalyze the uprisings of the Arab Spring, but also explore the threats they pose to authoritarian regimes and the bounded model of Westphalian sovereignty that is the basis of the contemporary global system.

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