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Digital Dissent and the Egyptian Revolution: Social Media and the Challenge to Authoritarian Rule

October 23, 2013
12:30PM - 01:30PM

Annenberg School for Communication, Room 500
3620 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, 19104

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Categories: Seminar

During the Arab uprisings of early 2011, which saw the overthrow of Zine el-Abadine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the role of digital media and social networking tools was widely reported. This was also recognized by the very authorities fighting against popular pressure for change, and the Egyptian government’s attempt to block internet and mobile phone access in January 2011 demonstrated the extent to which it was seen as powerful and potentially subversive tool. What is yet to be examined is the local context that allowed digital media to play this role: Egypt, for example, a history of online activism laid important ground work for the scenes in Tahrir Square. Here, David Faris argues that it was circumstances particular to Egypt, more than the ‘spark’ from Tunisia, that allowed the revolution to take off: namely blogging and digital activism stretching back into the 1990s, combined with sustained and numerous protest movements and an independent press. Dissent and Revolution in a Digital Age tracks the rocky path taken by Egyptian bloggers operating in Mubarak’s authoritarian regime to illustrate how the state monopoly on information was eroded, making space for dissent and digital activism.

David Faris is a lecturer and researcher in the department of Political Science and Public Administration Roosevelt University and director of the interdisciplinary International Studies program. He spent a year and a half in Cairo, Egypt, between 2006 and 2011 interviewing activists, journalists and students for his recently published book, Dissent and Revolution in a Digital Age: Social Media, Blogging and Activism in Egypt.  His academic work has been published in Middle East Policy, Arab Media & Society  andPolitique Eranger, and has published op-eds in NPR.org, the Christian Science Monitor, the Daily News Egypt, the Philadelphia Citypaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and more.

This event is co-hosted by the Center for Global Communication Studies and the Project for Advanced Research in Global Communication.

Lunch willl be served at 12:15.