6 Mar 2019 2:30pm - 4:30pm Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road


Professor Annabelle Sreberny (SOAS)
Dr Anne Alexander (CDH, CRASSH)


It is one of the great paradoxes of modern society that a machine for making copies can become “a means for making things different”.[1] For more than 500 years the mechanical reproduction of words and images has been a routine of power. Yet copying has also been central to the process of challenging the existing political order through the circulation of unlicensed books, pamphlets and tracts from hand to hand in the early modern era to the millions of copies of webpages, Facebook postings, tweets and SMS messages sent electronically during the wave of mass protests and revolutionary upheavals in the Middle East between 2009 and 2013.

This event will explore the relationship between technologies of reproduction and the craft of activism, with a particular focus on the Middle East. We will investigate how that craft has changed across generations of reproductive technology, the affordances of specific devices in relation to how they articulate identity and practice anonymity and correlations between form and function across mechanical and digital ‘versions’ of particular artefacts (button badges and online icons, for example). We will also address broader themes, such as the extent to which these artefacts were regarded as ephemeral or “for the record”, and the ways in which their construction reveals or hides the roles of their publishers, editors, authors and readers/audiences.


Annabelle Sreberny is Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Global Media and Communications, and the School of Arts, SOAS. She has consulted for UNESCO, the British Council, Article 19, the EU and the Council of Europe and is a member of the Royal Society of Arts. Her research spans the histories of international communication, globalization, feminism, and changing configurations of the public and private. Publications include Persian Service: The BBC and British Interests in Iran (2014) Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran (2011) 'The 2015 Charlie Hebdo Killings, Media Event Chains, and Global Political Responses' (2016) 'Talking soft about “soft “war'.(2013) 'Transcultural journalism and the politics of translation: Interrogating the BBC World Service'.(2011) 'Becoming Intellectual: The Blogestan and Public Political Space in the Islamic Republic' (2007) https://www.soas.ac.uk/staff/staff31856.php

 Dr Anne Alexander is Director of the Learning Programme at Cambridge Digital Humanities. Her research interests include ethics of big data, activist media in the Middle East and the political economy of the Internet. She is a member of the Data Ethics Group at the Alan Turing Institute and a member of the Steering Group of the Trust and Technology Strategic Research Initiative.

Cambridge Digital Humanities combines a network, research projects, a learning programme, and a lab to connect all those in the arts and humanities engaging with the changes brought by digital technologies. https://www.cdh.cam.ac.uk/

[1] Matthew Fuller, ‘Interview with a Photocopier’, May 2004, http://www.spc.org/fuller/fiction/interview-with-a-photocopier/.




Joint event, Cambridge Digital Humanities and ‘Re-‘ Interdisciplinary Network

Open to all. No registration required
Part of the Re-Interdisciplinary Network series

Administrative assistance: networks@crassh.cam.ac.uk

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