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[liberationtech] Wikileaks, Anonymous, and global activism

Yosem Companys companys at
Wed Dec 11 08:06:54 PST 2013

From: Wendy Wong <wendyh.wong at>

Hi Everyone:

I just wanted to let you know about an article I (and co-author Pete
Brown) have in the new issue of Perspectives on Politics on the role
of Wikileaks, Anonymous, and other “e-bandits” in global activism .
Here is the link:

Here is the abstract for “E-Bandits in Global Activism: Wikileaks,
Anonymous, and the Politics of No One."

In recent years, WikiLeaks and Anonymous have made headlines
distributing confidential information, defacing websites, and
generating protest around political issues. Although many have
dismissed these actors as terrorists, criminals, and troublemakers, we
argue that such actors are emblematic of a new kind of political
actor: extraordinary bandits (e-bandits) that engage in the politics
of no one via anonymizing Internet technologies. Building on
Hobsbawm's idea of the social bandit, we show how these actors
fundamentally change the terms of global activism. First, as political
actors, e-bandits are akin to Robin Hood, resisting the powers that be
who threaten the desire to keep the Internet free, not through
lobbying legislators, but by “taking” what has been deemed off limits.
Second, e-banditry forces us to think about how technology changes
“ordinary” transnational activism. Iconic images of street protests
and massive marches often underlie the way we as scholars think about
social movements and citizen action; they are ordinary ways we expect
non-state actors to behave when they demand political change.
E-bandits force us to understand political protest as virtual missives
and actions, activity that leaves no physical traces but that has
real-world consequences, as when home phone numbers and addresses of
public officials are released. Finally, e-banditry is relatively open
in terms of who participates, which contributes to the growing sense
that activism has outgrown organizations as the way by which
individuals connect. We illustrate our theory with the actions of two
e-bandits, Anonymous and WikiLeaks.

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Wendy H. Wong
Director, Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Associate Director, Munk School Global Justice Lab

Munk School of Global Affairs | University of Toronto
315 Bloor Street West | Room 214
Toronto, ON   M5S 1A3
Phone: 416-946-8703 | Fax: 416-946-5566

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