MEI Media Conference 3rd and 4th September 2015
The media’s role in political movements has been a prominent topic of debate in the news and academic circles. Social media, micro-blogging tools, video streaming sites, and mobile phones have gained increasing importance over the last five years. Internet connections and mobile applications have emerged as indispensable tools of information acquisition and dissemination.
The aim of the conference is to explore a variety of approaches to media usage in the Arab world, Turkey, and Iran. These include online activism, cultural production, as well as professional usage of media.
Topics to discuss are related to political blogging and citizen journalism, social media and participation culture, visual and textual cultural production online, as well as gender equality and Arab media. Political bloggers and citizen journalists not only help to connect like-minded people inside the region but also had a major role in disseminating news of ongoing events, especially during the Arab uprisings.
Visual and textual cultural production online is continuously increasing and offers a space to distribute works without being exposed to limiting social or state imposed restrictions. YouTube videos, images on Tumblr, publishing of music and poetry–in a large variety of forms– has gained immense popularity and reaches wide audiences. During the recent protests gender equality online and offline was widely discussed and a vast amount of online applications, websites, and social media accounts have been activated in order to help spreading information on gender-related topics.
Another subject of online culture in the region touches on surveillance technology, censorship, and online freedom. While the highly connected uprisings of our time were met by state oppression and/or curtailment of rights, a close reading of the riots has shown that the new media also serves the state apparatus by facilitating the surveillance of citizens, an organizational tool for politicking, and a platform for supporting offline activism and creating online activism. In addition, it is vital to look at theorizing media change as well as keeping the developing side of online processes in mind. Start-ups, digital news and online businesses all contribute to a fast growing media scene in the region.
Taking these developments into account, the conference aspires to serve as a platform for the exchange of perspectives on social movements, activists, and cultural production on the one hand, and digital developments and theoretical approaches to media developments on the other.