[P4959] Implicated Digital Transitions in the MENA Region

Created by Karem Irene Said
Sunday, 11/19/17 1:00pm


Digital technologies continue to unsettle longstanding organizational patterns of sociality, economy, and politics. Understanding the impact of the digital in the Middle East and North Africa means acknowledging a geopolitical scale of regional and transnational uprisings and upsets, where the digital is implicated in profound change that nonetheless resists any reliable political outcome. One finds that the peculiar appearance of "transitions" animated by digital technologies manifest at multiple scales of the intimate, the urban and the expressive in ways that can layer and enmesh with transnational forms. Tracking the phenomenology of digital media reveals how subjectivity and interaction are targeted by increasingly personalized interpellation that forgoes the "mass" of "mass media." Ethnographic research on digital leisure and labor serves to demonstrate not only the difficulty of identifying what counts as "work" online but also the particular ways that experts and users are interlinked. The expert mechanics of digital mediums have summoned individual users with reorganizational promise, but the promise of order and bureaucratic communication have been superseded by disorderly promise for new ways of imagining publics, sociality, and "the people." Beyond political uprisings, such imaginings project horizontal or "flat" relations that appear egalitarian. However, the leveling dynamics of social media are also revealed to be productive of hierarchy and alienation, while at the same time prompting methodological imaginations that as easily serve emancipatory meaning as they do authoritarian ambition. The papers in this panel explore the ways that political transitions in the MENA region are interlaced with transitions animated by digital technologies. How do the intimate registers of social media help researchers understand the various scales of transition animated by the digital? How do digital mediations reconfigure power structures and forms of subjection/subjectivity? What economic transitions speak through the expansion of regional digital infrastructures? How do experiences of connection serve as points of entry for intrumentalizing everyday life?






Frances S. Hasso

(Duke University and JMEWS)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Karem Irene Said

(Stanford University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Yakein Abdelmagid

(Duke University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

S. Gokce Atici

(Stanford University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;