Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

ITPI Book: Democracy’s Fourth Wave? (Oxford University Press)

| Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 | Comments Off

Did digital media really “cause” the Arab Spring, or was it one of several important factors behind what might become democracy’s fourth wave? An unlikely network of citizens used digital media to start a cascade of social protest that ultimately toppled four of the world’s most entrenched dictators. Howard and Hussain find that the complex causal recipe includes several economic, political and cultural factors, but that digital media is consistently one of the most important sufficient and necessary conditions for explaining both the fragility of regimes and the success of social movements. This book looks at not only the unexpected evolution of events during the Arab Spring, but the deeper history of creative digital activism throughout the region.


Philip N. Howard is Professor of Communication, Information, and International Studies at the University of Washington, and a Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy.

Muzammil M. Hussain is completing his Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Washington and will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan.

The first two chapters of this book have been made available for download — please click <HERE> to access them in PDF.

Perspectives on Politics: Critical Dialogue — Prepublication Version — Dr. Philip N. Howard and Evgeny Morozov (Part I, II, and III)

| Monday, January 16th, 2012 | Comments Off

To Appear December 2011 | Vol.  9/No.  4 895  The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom.  By Evgeny Morozov.  New York: PublicAffairs, 2011.  432p. $27.95.


Part I

Philip N.  Howard, University of Washington:

Since the beginning of the year there have been significant changes in North Africa and the Middle East.  Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had ruled Tunisia for 20 years, and Hosni Mubarak reigned in Egypt for 30 years.  Yet their bravest challengers were 20- and 30-year-olds without ideological baggage, violent intentions, or clear leaders.  Political change in these countries inspired activists across the region.  Some tough authoritarian governments responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, others with policy concessions, welfare spending, and cabinet shuffles.  The groups that initiated and sustained protests had few meaningful experiences with public deliberation or voting, and little experience with successful protesting.  These young citizens were politically disciplined, pragmatic, and collaborative.  Where did they come from? How do young people growing up in modern, entrenched, authoritarian regimes find political inspirations and aspirations? Are digital media important parts of the contemporary recipe for democratization?

Evgeny Morozov’s The Net Delusion offers good illustrations of the ways in which authoritarian regimes have used information technology to constrain social movements.  Doing so provides an important intellectual corrective to too much enthusiasm about the role of digital media in resistance to authoritarian rule.  But the book comes at a time when current events in North Africa and the Middle East— and the growing research consensus—suggest that for the most part, the proliferation of information technologies has provided occasions for introducing democratic practices in surprising ways and unexpected places.  Not everyone will agree that information technologies changed the opportunity structure for opposition, improved the logistics of protest organizing, or carried stories of success across North Africa and the Middle East to inspire other citizens to challenge their dictators.  But it no longer seems delusional to contemplate the political consequences of the diffusion of Internet access and mobile phones.  At the same time, Morozov’s book offers an important corrective to simplistic ways of thinking about the political effects of the new technologies, and scholars working on these issues will find his arguments well worth engaging.

Morozov makes several important points in forceful ways.  First, most Internet content, in terms of bandwidth and hard drive space, is not dedicated to politics but to porn and illegally shared movies.  Most online transactions involve shopping or entertainment, not interactions with candidates for political office.  Digital media are rarely used for political content (though we have not been able to measure how this might be changing).

Second, digital media can also be key tools for regime propaganda, political surveillance, counterinsurgency and corporate espionage.  These uses are on the rise, and only a few people (such as Ron Deibert at the University of Toronto) track their political consequences in systematic ways.  Activists are not as safe as they might think, and may even weaken their movement by being too dependent on information technology.  “The problem with most technological fixes,” Morozov writes, “is that they come with costs unknown even to their fiercest advocates” (p.  303).  Peer-to-peer file-sharing systems, mobile phones, and cloud computing all have technical limits and security vulnerabilities.

Third, efforts to craft a tech-savvy foreign policy have not gone very well.  Morozov points out the absurdity of imposing economic sanctions that prevent some U.S.- based online services from being available in authoritarian regimes (for citizens’ use) but of not regulating Silicon Alley’s export of excellent censorship software (for dictators’ use).  On its own, encouraging internet access is not a sensible foreign policy goal.  Some policymakers are just too gung-ho about technological solutions to social problems.

Yet it may be going too far to argue that having a social media strategy as part of a modern foreign policy is delusional.  Public diplomacy can mean many things with regard to specific bilateral relations.  But the Internet is now one of the primary means by which people in other countries keep in touch with family and friends living in the West, a supplementary means by which people expand their news diets with international content, and an important means by which middle-class youth develop a political identity.  So it would be delusional not to work toward some integration of digital media in the program of statecraft and give even the most seasoned foreign policy experts a better understanding of the new media environment.  Dismissing digital media altogether would be dangerous for foreign policy.

Ignoring the role of digital media in contemporary political life means being out of tune with how young people form political identity, how civil society leaders organize, and how political communication is currently structured in media systems around the developing world.  Most technology use, most of the time, does not concern politics.  But in times of military or political crisis, people do use information technologies in important ways.  They check the news reported domestically with what is reported elsewhere, and they corroborate events with family and friends.  Increasingly, people become their own media producers.  What inspired many people to take to the streets in the summer of 2009 in Iran and in the Arab Spring of 2011 was not just the fact of stolen elections, but the personal stories of police abuse and government corruption that spread through digital media over social networks that crossed the region.

If anything, this book demonstrates why scholarly research is important.  One of the challenges of studying technology and politics is in the difficulty of adding it all up.  Morozov is most systematic in pointing out the flaws in particular tools and software.  And he assembles some of the most discouraging incidents of political debate and activism gone wrong.  Most of the evidence is anecdotal, occasionally it is testimonial, but rarely is it systematic or analogical.  In an important way, current events do the most to undermine the overall arguments in The Net Delusion.  For several years, experts and pundits were most worried about how terrorists used digital media to organize, promote hatred, and launch attacks on states and firms in the West.  These things do happen, but at this point there are much more dramatic and high-impact cases of civil society groups, mainstream political parties, and journalists using information infrastructure in innovative ways.  Digital media are part of the story of democratic entrenchment in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Turkey.  Sometimes, as in North Africa and the Middle East, digital media are used with surprising political effectiveness in rapid regime change.

Morozov is right to point out that several key firms— among them Facebook, Twitter, Google—do not fully appreciate the way they have become fundamental infrastructure for social movements.  They cave in to government demands for filtering tools and back doors to software systems.  He makes a convincing argument that any sensible theory of democratization should not be pegged to a particular piece of software or hardware.  And he is right to point out that political scientists—and journalists—rarely have the technical literacy to be able to talk sensibly and critically about the interplay of technology trends, telecommunications policy, and politics.

Political science, as a discipline, is generally afraid of studying information technology because doing so is difficult.  We train graduate students to use statistical inference to explain variation in a sample of data, but only the smaller community of comparative and qualitative scholars have the methodological rigor to teach us about causal patterns with confidence.  Only a few social scientists have the analytical tool kit to process terabytes of log files, understand the nuances of telecommunications policy, preserve network relations in data, and think philosophically about the causal role in which software and hardware provide capacities and constraints on human action.  Studying information technology and politics requires that a researcher be good at the very least at two or three of these things.  Morozov himself has several of these skills, and so here is why this book is important: It will inspire a new wave of research on information technology and politics because it so convincingly demonstrates that, in political terms, technology matters.

There are intriguing debates developing in journals like the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, and some ingenious new ways of collecting, organizing, and analyzing static, dynamic, and network data about technology and politics.  Nonetheless, there is an urgent need to move beyond a few favored examples and longer-than-sound bite punditry.  Morozov offers a string of casual examples to show how information technology can slow down group productivity or encourage self-promotion online, but does not advance our understanding of the process by which thousands of Tunisians, then Egyptians, then Algerians, Bahrianis, Jordanians, Moroccans, and so on mobilized with astounding political effect.  Given the rising number of incidents in which digital media have become part of the narrative of social movement formation, regime change, and democratic entrenchment, it no longer seems misguided to explore the possibility of causal connections between technology diffusion and political outcomes.

The Net Delusion is an important book to read because every important debate needs naysayers, and this is the best statement yet against the growing consensus that information technology opens up new supplies of information about life in democratic countries for those living in dictatorship, that such technologies improve the capacity of social movement leaders to organize even more than improve the capacity of the state to repress, and that a young generation of citizens is having—once in a while—important exchanges of ideas through which they are developing their political identities.  Morozov’s book is an impressive catalog of all the depressing examples of unexpected consequences and disturbing side effects of technology diffusion.  The subtitle is The Dark Side of Internet Freedom.  It is always possible to compose an argument about the downside of freedom, but most people would still chose to have both freedom and the Internet.  Morozov does not really convince us that we can have only one of these things.

What are the key ingredients in the modern recipe for democratization?  How could democratic states make good foreign policy interventions and promote democratization elsewhere? Morozov convincingly argues that technology is not the answer.  In the end, not many people argue that it is the only answer; most of us argue that the modern recipe for democratization is complex, with digital media one of several key ingredients.  So even after finishing the book, most readers will retain the sense that digital media can be part of the answer to several contemporary questions in political science.


Part II

Morozov Responds To Howard:

I’m grateful to Professor Howard for writing a thoughtful review of my book.  I agree with some of his charges but find the policy agenda that follows from his critique to be somewhat naïve.

I concede that The Net Delusion “does not advance our understanding of the process by which millions of thousands of [people in the Middle East] mobilized with astounding political effect.” But, to borrow a phrase from software developers, I think that this is a feature, not a bug.  My initial assumption in writing The Net Delusion had been that both journalists and academics spend too much time extolling the positive (i.e.  democratization enhancing) uses of social media and technology, leaving their more repressive uses almost invisible, both to the general public and to policy-makers (Internet use by terrorists is one exception; Howard is right to suggest that most such accounts are overblown.) As such, I didn’t want to produce yet another Kumbaya account of the Internet’s impact on democratization, for I feel that that side of the story is already well-covered elsewhere.  I also agree with Howard that “…it may go too far to argue that having a social media strategy as part of a modern foreign policy is delusional.” As Howard himself acknowledges, part of my overall project has been to show that technology matters—and it matters in ways than most Western policy-makers don’t even anticipate.  But simply acknowledging technology’s importance is not enough to turn it into a potent tool of promoting democracy.

Politically, the Internet is not a neutral space and America’s foreign policy carries all of its historical baggage to cyberspace with it.We need to think much harder about the costs of having an explicit “Internet freedom agenda.” The same goes for the costs of designing that agenda in a certain way—both factually and rhetorically—for any strategy to use the Internet to promote democracy is bound to have effects on other strategies and domains (including non-digital ones).  So while Washington’s intent in promoting an “Internet freedom agenda” might be pure and noble and in touch with the times, I can’t complement it on its nuance so far.

Moreover, I am much less sanguine than Howard about Washington’s ability to avoid charges of hypocrisy— which may undermine the rest of their democracy agenda— that are bound to arise, as Western governments try to control the Internet in similar ways than their authoritarian counterparts (Britain’s attempts to control social media to thwart any future riots and San Francisco’s decision to shut down mobile networks to disrupt protests are cases in point.)

Translating Howard’s main research finding—i.e.  that information technology has a positive effect on democratization—into a set of Western policy objectives would be far more challenging than he seems to realize.  This is so because Western governments have their own domestic concerns about the Internet, while Western companies are eager to abet most repressive governments in their push to keep in the Internet in check.  The “delusion” that I am attacking in the title of my book refers not only to our tendency to view the Internet as the “ultimate liberator” but also to our false belief that the Internet is a tool that Western policy-makers can wield at will and without consequences.


Part III

Howard Responds to Morozov:

Morozov is absolutely right to point out that other countries—not in the set analyzed in Digital Origins— might reveal different paths toward or away from democratic government.  But a quick look at some of the examples shows that they do not directly conflict with my argument that the proliferation of consumer electronics in countries with an active civil society and limited resource wealth seems to come with democratic consequences.  China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela are often offered as examples of how a tough regime can use digital media to oppress their citizens.

Understanding political trends in these countries is an important project on its own.  But as cases, they do not contribute much to our understanding of how technology proliferation advances democratic norms and practices because they are not directly relevant.  They are important in that large numbers of people suffer under their authoritarian rule.  China has effectively built its own Internet, with choke points, “joint ventures” that constrain private technology partners, and peculiar telecommunications standards that privilege domestic firms and allow easy access by national security agencies.  The Chinese use hobbled search engines, and Chinese youth do not use Facebook; they use QQ.  Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela have prominent civil society groups, but are countries where ruling elites built distinct cultures of technology use.  Iran and Saudi Arabia have created a culture of fear and self-censorship around technology use, while Russia and Venezuela have effectively redesigned how all media works domestically.  If anything, these cases reveal that the best way for an authoritarian government to maintain control is to not connect to global networks, import consumer electronics, or work on raising the informational sophistication of their citizenry.  Russia and Venezuela are countries that over the last decade have worked to unplug their domestic media system from global information networks: the nationalization of media services, the assassination of journalists, and active surveillance will discourage the political uses of digital media.  These cases do not contradict the finding that once a country’s information infrastructure—and political culture—is wired up, there are political consequences.

Morozov is also correct to point out that there is a political economy to the technology services provided by YouTube, Facebook, and blogging applications.  In interesting ways, the behavior of these firms demonstrates that they don’t fully appreciate the ways in which their technology services are treated as public information infrastructure by many citizens.  These large technology companies design tools for their “users” or “clients.” Yet, in times of crisis, it is “citizens” who put political content into these tools for distribution across their social networks.  Technology firms sometimes act constructively to either serve the public or capture market share.  For example, Google rushed its launch of Speak2Tweet, an application that bypassed Mubarak’s attempt to block Twitter use by translating phone messages into text messages.  Several tech firms built dedicated portals to allow in-country users to share content.  But as Morozov points out, information technologies—and the businesses designing them—do not always do things to support democratization movements.

Opposition leaders in countries where political parties are illegal sometimes use pseudonyms to avoid government harassment.  But doing so on Facebook is a violation of the company’s user agreement, and so the company actually shut down one of the protest-group pages in December.  Supporters eventually advocated to have the page reinstated, but the incident demonstrated the way in which businesses such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter may not fully appreciate the way in which their users treat these tools as public information infrastructure, and not just as a cool new application.  Whereas Google has signed the Global Network Initiative—a compact for preventing web censorship by authoritarian governments—Facebook has refused.  It might be technically possible to require Facebook users in Western countries to use real identities but then to also offer levels of anonymity to people living in dictatorships, but no such feature exists.

Opening Closed Regimes: What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?

| Sunday, September 11th, 2011 | Comments Off

After analyzing over 3 million tweets, gigabytes of YouTube content and thousands of blog posts, a new study finds that social media played a central role in shaping political debates in the Arab Spring.  Conversations about revolution often preceded major events on the ground, and social media carried inspiring stories of protest across international borders.

Focused mainly on Tunisia and Egypt, this research included creating a unique database of information collected from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  The research also included creating maps of important Egyptian political Websites, examining political conversations in the Tunisian blogosphere, analyzing more than 3 million Tweets based on key-words used, and tracking which countries thousands of individuals Tweeted from during the revolutions.  The result is that for the first time we have evidence confirming social media’s critical role in the Arab Spring.

The contributors include Philip Howard, Muzammil Hussain, Will Mari, and Marwa Mazaid at the University of Washington, Deen Freelon at American University, and Aiden Duffy at Amazon Web Services.

Download Report Now (click HERE)

ICS: Sustainable Development and ICTs – Volume 13 Issue 1

| Saturday, February 20th, 2010 | No Comments »

Information, Communication & Society: Volume 13 Issue 1 is now available online at informaworldTM.

Special Issue: Sustainable Development and ICTs
This new issue contains the following articles:

Authors: Robert M. Bichler; Gunilla Bradley; Wolfgang Hofkirchner
DOI: 10.1080/13691180903386941

Authors: Lorenz M. Hilty; Thomas F. Ruddy
DOI: 10.1080/13691180903322805

Author: Christian Fuchs
DOI: 10.1080/13691180902801585

Authors: Oana Mitrea; Matthias Werner; Hajo Greif
DOI: 10.1080/13691180903026372

Authors: Christina Mörtberg; Dagny Stuedahl; Sara Alander DOI: 10.1080/13691180902992947

Author: Yanuar Nugroho
DOI: 10.1080/13691180902992939

Authors: Gaetano Aurelio Lanzarone; Antonella Zanzi
DOI: 10.1080/13691180902992962

Authors: Rasmus Klocker Larsen; Stina Powell; Nadarajah Sriskandarajah; TarlaRai Peterson
DOI: 10.1080/13691180902992954

CfP: “Doing Global Media Studies” – ECREA 2010

| Saturday, February 20th, 2010 | No Comments »


– Call for Papers –

!!Submission Deadline is 28 February 2010!!

Pre-conference to the ECREA 2010 — 3rd European Communication Conference
Bremen, Germany, 11-12 October 2010, Haus der Wissenschaft

Held by: NIIK, Network Intercultural and International Communication
Organization: Michael Brüggemann, Andreas Hepp, Katharina Kleinen-von

Keynote speakers:

- Sonia Livingstone (LSE, UK)
- Tristan Mattelart (University of Paris 8, France)

‘Global media studies’ are an approach of media research which reflects the
increasing phenomenon of transcultural and transnational communication: If
we consider news or entertainment formats, the internet or mobile
communication, mainstream or minority media — public and private
communication increasingly transcends national and cultural borders. But how
can we respond to this methodologically? Which innovative methods are
necessary for media and communication research in a globalized media world?
What kinds of empirical research are required for “doing” global media

This conference tackles the methodological challenges facing comparative
media research in a global age, reflecting critically the present status of
transcultural and transnational communication. We would like to invite
presentations dealing with the methodological consequences of research going
beyond ‘national containers’. Proposals may address challenges with regard
to the overall research design, methodological innovations, or deal more
specifically with methodological issues concerning the selection of cases as
well as the gathering and analysis of data. Quantitative, qualitative and
mixed methodological approaches are all very welcome.

The pre-conference will feature the presentations of peer-reviewed submitted
papers as well as distinguished key-note speakers in the field of global
media studies. It will also comprise workshop elements for a hands-on
discussion of the practical issues that arise from research projects which
go beyond cultural borders.

Deadline: All abstracts should be submitted through the ECREA 2010 website
no later than:

28 February 2010.

To avoid technical problems, early submission is strongly encouraged.

Pre-Conference Website:

Dr. Katharina Kleinen-von Königslöw
Collaborative Research Center “Transformations of the State”
Jacobs University Bremen
Campus Ring 1
D- 28759 Bremen
tel: +49/421/200-3457
fax: +49/421/200-3303

CfP: “The Africa Media & Democracy Conference” (Accra)

| Saturday, February 20th, 2010 | No Comments »

THE ACCRA CONFERENCE 18th -20th AUGUST 2010: The Africa Media & Democracy Conference invites papers for its annual Africa Media and Democracy Conference, to be held from 18th -20th August 2010, Accra – Ghana. The theme for the Conference is: “Mediating Democracy in Africa”.

BACKGROUND: Recent developments of the growing influence of the media in Africa’s fledgling democracies in particular radio and television in monitoring, pollstering, ‘nuancing’ election results ahead of the Electoral Commissioner, has been contested by politicians, constitutional experts and media practitioners. The Conference aims to address and examine among others the location of such media practices, their constitutional legitimacy and their relevance to freedom of information in a democratic dispensation. It will seek to address media practises such as the ‘announcing of elections results’ ahead of an Electoral Commission or the ‘deployment of Press Conferences’ by political parties as political posturing during voting and ballot counting period of an election. The conference will provide context for comparison, dialogue and analysis between media practices situated in different cultural-political environment. When does ‘announcing’ becomes ‘endorsement’ of a particular political party contesting a democratic election? What is the impact on the electorate of such early announcements of election results from electoral constituencies? What are implications for social and national cohesion of such practices in fiercely contested elections? what is the way forward? The event is open to academics, media industry professionals, government agencies, policymakers, regulators, UN agencies, donors, civil society organisations, independent consultants and research groups and students.

Papers are also invited on the following sub-themes listed below; submissions could be made from a range of issues in relation to democracy & media practices in Africa. It must address specific media practices in the context of democracy in Africa, such as the role of radio commercials as political communication tool in electioneering, the corrosive effects of partisan media practices in popular democracy or the role of the media in the concept of popular democracy etc.


Media, democracy and governance

Media, ethnic identity and democracy

Media ownership, democracy and governance

Media, concept citizenry and democracy

Media and the concept ‘good of governance’

Media and political communication

Media, political rhetoric’s and political violence

Media and coupe d’états

Media reportage and democracy

Media, democracy and political education

Media, democracy and traditional governance

Media , political activism and governance

Media, conflict and crises management

New Media and democracy

Media, democracy and aid

Media Law and regulation

Media, Gender and democratization

Media, Democracy and Human Rights

Community media and democracy

Media and Ethics

Media and African centeredness

Digital media and the renewal of local democracy

Media and cultural politics

New Media and the renewal of local democracy

New media, democratic theory and public sphere

‘Development Democracy’ and the media

In addition to those listed above the organisers will consider other relevant sub-themes from contributors.


ABSTRACTS & PAPERS: Please email abstracts (maximum one page) along with contact information and a 500-word bio to:

All Abstracts must be in English, full papers may be submitted in either English or French.

· Deadline for receipt of abstracts: 30th April 2010

· Notice of acceptance of abstracts: 5th May 2010

· Deadline for receipt of full papers: 30th May 2010

For furtherinformation and other enquiries please contact Conference Team.


Event: “Program on Good Governance and Political Reform in the Arab World” @ Stanford

| Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 | No Comments »

The Program on Good Governance and Political Reform in the Arab World is pleased to invite you to its inaugural research seminar exploring the missing link between liberalization and democratization in the Middle East with:

Philippe Schmitter
Emeritus, European University Institute, Florence
Visiting Scholar at CDDRL

Discussant: Sean Yom
Hewlett Postdoctoral Fellow
Stanford University

Wednesday 17 February 2010
Stanford University
616 Serra Street
Stanford, CA  95305
Encina Ground Floor Conference Room (E008)
Lunch will be provided

One of the routine assumptions of students of democratization has been that there is a close, causal relationship between liberalization and democratization. The former is said to drive those who concede it toward convoking credible elections and, eventually, tolerating ruler accountability to citizens. The link between those processes of regime transformation is alleged to be the mobilization of civil society. It has been argued that the weakness or absence of this linkage is one (among many) of the conditions which make the polities of the Middle East and North Africa resistant to democratization. We propose to open a public discussion on this topic. Philippe Schmitter is Professor Emeritus at the European University Institute (EUI), and wason the faculty of the EUI from 1996 to 2004, after ten years at Stanford University. He is also a recurrent visiting professor at the Central European University in Budapest, at the Istituto delle Scienze Humanistiche in Florence and the University of Siena.

Schmitter has conducted research on comparative politics and regional integration in both Latin America and Western Europe, with special emphasis on the politics of organized interests. With Gerhard Lehmbruch, he edited Trends Toward Corporatist Intermediation and Patterns of Corporatist Policy-Making. He is the co-author (with Guillermo O-Donnell) of Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy (4 vols.) and is currently completing a book on Essaying the Consolidation of Democracy. In recent years, he has devoted increasing attention to the “emerging polity”of the European Community, first in a co-authored book on Governance in the European Union (with Gary Marks, Fritz Scharpf and Wolfgang Streeck) and in a book entitled: How to Democratize the European Union ….and Why Bother? With Alexandre Trechsel, he has written a Green Paper for the Council of Europe on The Future of Democracy in Europe.

He has been vice-president of the American Political Science Association and the recipient of numerous professional awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim in 1978, the award for lifetime achievement in European politics by the ECPR in 2008, and the award for lifetime achievement in the study of European integration by EUSA in 2009.

Sean Yomis a Hewlett Postdoctoral Fellow at CDDRL at Stanford University. He finished his Ph.D. at the Department of Government at Harvard University in June 2009, with a dissertation entitled “Iron Fists in Silk Gloves: Building Political Regimes in the Middle East”. His primary research explores the origins and durability of authoritarian regimes in this region, focusing on the historical interplay between early social conflicts and Western geopolitical interventions. His other research interests encompass political reform in the Arab world and the historical architecture of Persian Gulf security. Recent publications include articles in the Journal of Democracy, Middle East Report, Arab Studies Quarterly, and Arab Studies Journal.

About the Program:
The Program on Good Governance and Political Reform in the Arab World at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University examines the different social and political dynamics within Arab countries and the evolution of their political systems, focusing on the prospects, conditions, and possible pathways for political reform in the region. This multidisciplinary Program brings together both scholars and practitioners—from the policy making, civil society, NGO, media, and politics communities—as well as other actors of diverse backgrounds from the Arab world and outside, to consider how democratization and more responsive and accountable governance might be achieved, as a general challenge for the region and within specific Arab countries. For more information, please contact the Program Manager Dr. Lina Khatib,

Join our mailing list:


CfP – “Voices of Dissent: Activists Engagements in the Creation of Alternative, Autonomous, Radical and Independent Media” – Interface

| Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 | No Comments »

Interface =96 A Journal For and About Social Movements
Call for papers =96 Issue 4:
Voices of Dissent. Activists Engagements in the Creation of
Alternative, Autonomous, Radical and Independent Media.

Interface is a new journal produced twice yearly by activists and
academics around the world in response to the development and
increased visibility of social movements in the last few years =96 and
the immense amount of knowledge generated in this process. This
knowledge is created across the globe, and in many contexts and a
variety of ways, and it constitutes an incredibly valuable resource
for the further development of social movements. Interface responds to
this need, as a tool to help our movements learn from each other=92s
struggles, by developing analyses and knowledge that allow lessons to
be learned from specific movement processes and experiences and
translated into a form useful for other movements.

We welcome contributions by movement participants and academics who
are developing movement-relevant theory and research. Our goal is to
include material that can be used in a range of ways by movements =96 in
terms of its content, its language, its purpose and its form. We are
seeking work in a range of different formats, such as conventional
articles, review essays, facilitated discussions and interviews,
action notes, teaching notes, key documents and analysis, book reviews
=96 and beyond. Both activist and academic peers review research
contributions, and other material is sympathetically edited by peers.
The editorial process generally will be geared towards assisting
authors to find ways of expressing their understanding, so that we all
can be heard across geographical, social and political distances.

Our fourth issue, to be published in November  2010, will have space
for general articles on all aspects of understanding social movements,
as well as a special themed section on Voices of Dissent. Activists
Engagements in the Creation of Alternative, Autonomous, Radical and
Independent Media.

In the last decades, there has been a considerable amount of both
activist and academic publications on alternative, radical,
autonomous, and independent media. Keeping in mind the broad range of
alternative, radical, autonomous and independent sites of media
production and consumption, this issue of Interface intends to engage
critical knowledge about media practices developed in social movement
contexts all around the world. The primary goal of our journal is to
contribute to the development of knowledge “from and for” social
movements and encourage dialogue between movement participants and
outside researchers. Thus we ask for contributions which are able to
cross the separation between the movement and academic milieu when
addressing the topic of alternative media in contemporary societies,
underlining both theoretical and practical challenges that developing
alternative media pose nowadays. In particular, we encourage
contributions that explore some crucial questions which can further
develop activist and academic literature about alternative,
independent, radical and autonomous media.

A crucial topic is related, for instance, to the symbolic and material
places and sites of the media environment where alternative media
develop today: for instance, what is the nature of the interactions
between a profit-oriented online platform such as Facebook and the
alternative media messages which are sometime spread though it? This
and other similar questions in the field remain   unanswered. The
proliferation of cheap and easy-to-use technological devices make it
easy for everyone taking part in a demonstration to record and then
spread the demonstration itself. It would be interesting to explore
how these increasingly common practices impact the idea and the role
of =91media-activism=92. With the flourishing and spread of information
and communication technologies in particular many activist media
practitioners and progressive academics have focused on the use of
such new technologies in social movements. Alternative, radical,
autonomous and independent media messages, however, are still produced
and diffused using a variety of different technologies – from the
press to the internet to rudimentary broadcast stations. There are
community radios and radical magazines, street televisions and
alternative stickers. They often intertwine and produce hybrid spaces
of communication which are worth continuing to explore worldwide. In
short, some of the questions we would like to address are:

What are the places and sites in the media environment where
alternative media develop today?
Does it still make sense to speak about =91media activists=92 in a
technology-saturated environment? Who are today=92s media activists and,
more broadly speaking, who are the alternative media practitioners and
how are they connected to different social movements?
How are traditional media (radio, magazines, television, print) used
as alternative means of communication nowadays? Are there instances of
media convergence in this respect? What effects does this have on the
communication practices of existing social movements?
What are the challenges, problems and issues that alternative media
have raised and still raise within the social movement milieu?
Do alternative media present a gender-neutral context? Or, are
alternative media practices embedded in the same patriarchal discourse
that envelops mainstream media?
Do technical criteria and the logics of media production necessarily
win out in the long run over questions of alternative production
processes and attempts to treat media as the voice of people in

We particularly encourage the submission of articles originated from
practical-critical activity and engagement with movement media. We
welcome especially “action notes”, “teaching notes”, activist
interviews and good practice pieces which can help media activists
learn from each other’s struggles. This list of questions is not
exhaustive, but it is merely meant as a set of potential topics. Other
perspectives on alternative media are welcome and encouraged.

For more details on Interface, please see our website at, particularly the “Guidelines for
contributors”. The deadline for initial submissions to this issue
(vol. 2 no. 2, to be published Nov 1st 2010) is May 1st 2010.”
Alice Mattoni, PhD
Department of Political and Social Sciences
European University Institute

Badia Fiesolana
Via dei Roccettini 9
I-50014 San Domenico di Fiesole (FI)

Mobile: +39 349 5609048

Event: “Activism in the Electronic Age: The impact of technology on political protest” @ Dartmouth

| Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 | No Comments »

Original link [here].

Sponsored by The Dartmouth Centers Forum


The Western world watched with great anticipation the recent 2009 elections in Iran, in which large numbers of Iranian citizens actively protested the fairness and outcome of the election. Not only did Iranian protesters fill the streets of Tehran and the campuses of universities, they also appeared to fill cyberspace with their Facebook postings, Twitter Tweets, and Blogs.

Has technology always played a role in political protest – and if so, how? Or does new information technology and the Internet change the activity and impact of political protest in fundamental and new ways?

We will explore these questions and more with an expert panel of guest speakers who will discuss their own work on technology and protest, and then engage with the Dartmouth community for a discussion of such questions.


Denise Anthony – Research Director of the Institute for Security, Technology, and Society and Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology

Denise Anthony is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Sociology at Dartmouth College. She is also Research Director of the Institute for Security, Technology, and Society at Dartmouth, and a faculty affiliate at the Center for Health Policy Research at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Dr. Anthony’s research interests include collective action and trust, economic sociology and the sociology of health care. She has explored mechanisms for producing cooperation, trust and social capital in a variety of settings, from micro-credit borrowing groups to online groups such as

denise anthonyDenise Anthony


Bruce Etling – Director of the Internet & Democracy Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Bruce directs the Internet & Democracy Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Bruce’s current research is focused on the Russian Internet and creating multi-method approaches for the study of foreign language Internet spaces. He has also carried out research on the Iranian and Arabic blogospheres. Before joining Berkman, Bruce was the Director of USAID’s Office of Democracy and Governance in Kabul, Afghanistan. He has also worked on democracy programs for USAID in Russia and Cambodia. Before USAID, he worked on a large independent media development program in the NIS and Central and Eastern Europe for the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX).

He first joined Harvard Law School as part of the Afghan Legal History Project at the Islamic Legal Studies Program.

Elham Gheytanchi – Professor of Sociology, Santa Monica College

Elham teaches sociology at Santa Monica College in California. She has written on Iranian culture and politics, women’s rights and the politics of the Internet in scholarly journals as well as newspapers. Her articles have recently appeared in CNN360, Foreign Policy Journal and Boston Globe.

ElhamElham Gheytanchi

Evgeny Morozov – Yahoo! Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University

Evgeny is a Yahoo! Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy/Georgetown University and a contributing editor to Foreign Policy magazine. He also runs the magazine’s influential and widely-quoted “Net Effect” blog about the Internet’s impact on global politics ( Prior to his appointment to Georgetown, he was a fellow at George Soros’s Open Society Institute, where he remains on the board of the Information Program. Before moving to the US, Morozov was based in Berlin and Prague, where he was Director of New Media at Transitions Online, a media development NGO active in 29 countries of the former Soviet bloc.

EvgenyEvgeny Morozov

CfP: “Rethinking Virtual World and Cyber-circulation in the Middle East and Beyond”

| Sunday, February 14th, 2010 | No Comments »

The literature dealing with changes in traditional communications caused by the rapid use of cyber-circulation or e-communication in the Middle East is scant. Different forms of Cyber-circulation, including Internet, SMS (Short Message Services), e-mail, and face book as used in institutional and socio-cultural contexts are discussed. Cultural relativity is the key not only to understand the various ways of information circulation and communication but also to comprehend peoples’ views of the cyber-circulation, online communication or Internet.

The claim that the shift from oral to literary/print forms of communication is equivalent to the change from traditional to modern culture undermines the complexity and dynamism of the responses of traditional cultures to globalization and electronic communication. For example, both Arabic and English languages are used in the cyber-circulation in the Middle East. Even Arabic language is used differently based on various colloquial dialects. There is not one type of circulation and communication, but many existing on a continuum, rather than in a bipolar opposition between what is traditional and what is modern.

To what extent have electronic connections and cyberspace experiences been viewed by traditional societies as being real or virtual? To what extent have cyber-circulation and other forms of virtual technology transformed people’s worldviews including images of themselves, of avatars, and of others?

Please note that the deadline is March 1st (Please, I need to know if you would like to participate one week before the deadline).

Please submit paper abstracts to

Contact Information
el-Sayed el-Aswad
PO Box 17771
Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences/UAEU
Al-Ain UAE