[R4929] Social Media, Feminist Praxis, and State Power

Created by VJ Um Amel
Tuesday, 11/21/17 8:00am


When Twitter and Facebook first emerged and social media users in the Middle East adopted the medium to push for political change, these digital media captured the imagination of a wide audience of scholars and interest groups. They also captured the imagination of the public. The Arab uprisings of 2011 were coined "Twitter revolutions." Arab activists' use of social media became a model for other social movements which quickly adopted similar tactics enabling people around the world to participate virtually as witnesses to contemporary events. This dramatic uptick of virtual and on-the-ground revolutionary activism also inspired corporate interests and government entities like the NSA to hijack or monitor social media for a variety of purposes, including surveillance as well as monitoring consumer behavior. In sum, social media in recent years have been radically transformed by under-served publics and governments alike and the Arab world has been "ground zero" for some of the most dramatic and influential changes.
The challenge now is one of reframing how we create data analytics and visualizations from social media, even in the recent past, social media analytics and the same graphing charts do not address the structure and practices of the security states of 2017. Our roundtable proposes to redress this situation, rendering the invisible visible, both in relation to underrepresented voices and views from below as well as those (such as the male programmer) that remain out of view. After the uprisings, feminists were able to re-insert their platforms back into popular movements through digital campaigns such as Kafa, Jinsayati, Uprising Women, TakeBacktheTech, Nasawiya, and HarassMap. In response to threats to human rights and increasing violence against feminist activists in Egypt, for example, under the rule of Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Muslim Brotherhood, feminist organizing emerged outside of established NGOs. Egyptian feminist activists were at the forefront of struggles for social justice in post-Mubarak Egypt, while also raising gender-specific demands with regards to women's participation in society. In Lebanon, women activists successfully integrated the transformation of gender norms into demands for broader sociopolitical transformations (Pratt, Herrera). This scholarship therefore draws on critical frameworks from the digital humanities, but also engages with transnational feminist theories and practices, since they too, expand our approaches to questions that are central to contemporary humanistic research and to the specific issues of gender, sexuality, human rights and political speech in the Middle East.




Comtns; Journ; Lib Sci; Media Arts; Pol Science



Mark Levine

(University of California, Irvine)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

VJ Um Amel

(UC Santa Barbara)
Laila Shereen Sakr is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies and Faculty Affiliate in the Feminist Studies Department at University of California, Santa Barbara. At UCSB, she has co-founded Wireframe, a new digital media studio that supports critical...
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Manal Hassan

Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Lisa Parks

Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;