14 Oct 2010 - 16 Oct 2010 All day CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge




Anne Alexander (CRASSH, University of Cambridge)
Sharath Srinivasan (Centre of Governance and Human Rights, University of Cambridge)




Conference themes

The spread of digital technologies in the Middle East and Africa has generated the view that 'new media' open up political spaces for dissent, activism and emancipation. This conference offers an opportunity to critically reassess these assumptions. “New media, alternative politics” will bring together researchers, academics, activists, journalists and policy makers to discuss whether and how new media empower an alternative politics and mobilise political change.


1. Communicating dissent, mobilising change


How are new media technologies being used in the Middle East and Africa to mobilise for political change? We encourage proposals that report on the use of a wide variety of new media technologies to communicate political dissent and organise for political change using images, voices and text. Potential topics include the use of mobile phone cameras, blogging, text messaging, online social networking and video activism to organise demonstrations, monitor elections, make demands upon government, and connect activists.


 2. What is ‘new’ in new media?


Are there ways in which digital media is qualitatively different to earlier waves of new media in its interactivity, immediacy and connections to global networks? We are interested in examinations of how political actors have used emergent media in the past, such as printing technologies, duplicating machines and audio cassettes, and how this can inform our understanding of political activists’ use of new media today.


 3. New media versus old power


Have those controlling political power been able to restrict the emancipatory potential of new media technologies? How have activists used new media to respond and resist? Why have some of the optimistic predictions equating the spread of new media with political liberalisation not been realised? We encourage empirical and theoretical submissions that examine the relationships of resistance and response between state institutions and citizens or groups using new media.


4. Local new media and global designs on political change       


How is the use of new media by political activists in the Middle East and Africa shaped by global forces? This broad theme addresses topics such as aid and diplomatic support for particular trends in new media by external powers, use of new media for ‘soft power’ diplomacy, how global corporations and international media networks have shaped patterns of new media use, and whether new communication technologies have reconfigured relationships between international and local NGOs.


5. Researching new media


What are the methodological, ethical and practical challenges of researching new media and political change in the Middle East and Africa? We would encourage submissions that look towards a progressive engagement between researchers, practitioners and activists to simultaneously study and support the use of new media in political engagement.

Accommodation Information

Conference delegates can find information about accommodation in Cambridge via:

Visit Cambridge or  Cambridge Rooms.


Administrative assistance: Michelle Maciejewska


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk