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[liberationtech] Research seminar: Digital media, civic engagement and political mobilization in repressive regimes

Joshua Kauffman joshua.kauffman at
Thu Sep 18 15:24:29 PDT 2008

Research seminar: Digital media, civic engagement and political mobilization
in repressive regimes

 *10-11 November 2008, Denmark.*


*Announcement and paper call:*

The Institute for Society and Globalization (RUC) in cooperation with the
Research School for International Development Studies (RUC) and the Danish
Institute for Human Rights (IMR/DIIS) will host a research seminar on
digital media, civic engagement and political mobilization in repressive

The overall theme of this event is the growing impact of digital media in
repressive regimes. The seminar is designed to present ongoing international
research as well as to promote new original research and facilitate academic
exchange. The specific purposes of the seminar are, first, to discuss how
Internet, mobile phones and other digital networked technologies may provide
a novel component in the public sphere in repressive regimes, and secondly,
to examine the extent and significance of these media for activism and
social mobilization.

As the Internet both globalizes and deepens it gets a real-life impact in
the private as well as the public sphere. Citizens and organizations use
digital networked technologies to engage in civic life, and at the same time
contribute to increasing media diversity at local, national and global
levels. Digital networked technologies have special significance in
repressive regimes, however, where crucial restrictions apply to public
debate and the media. Some focal points for the seminar are:

*●  Methodological issues*
A specific task is to examine and discuss central concepts and approaches
for introducing Internet activism into the social sciences, for instance in
relation to public sphere and social movement theory. Furthermore, are there
clear political distinctions between 'repressive' and 'democratic' regimes
or do we need more precise concepts with regard to various regimes' digital
media tactics?

*● Digital media and their challenge to conventional public sphere thinking*
he concept of 'public sphere' already from the outset having a Eurocentric
ring, what are the new concepts, approaches and understandings of the public
sphere in relation to digital media in repressive regimes? How may we expect
Internet and digital network media to develop in repressive regimes and how
may they contribute to public social and cultural life? How will the
authorities' adoption of digital media for propaganda and possibly hacking
affect the Internet as a 'public sphere'?

*● Mobilizing for political change through digital networked technologies*
Digital networked technologies may potentially mobilize civic action. But
how can activity in the virtual world have real-life impacts? We need to
examine this relationship to assess the influence of the new technologies on
society. What role do digital networked technologies play in repressive
regimes compared to democratic societies? Have these technologies created
new opportunities for networking and association? We need elaborations on
the intricate functions and purposes of digital media controls, including
discussions of interests, political goals, values and strategies of
government versus users and activists.

A range of key-note speakers are invited; program and additional information
will be sent out in the coming months. The seminar will take place at the
Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen, Denmark.

For paper proposals, seminar registration and the full seminar introduction
please contact:

   - Caroline Nellemann,
*caroline.nellemann at*<caroline.nellemann at>
   - Ole Bruun, *obruun at* <obruun at>
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