Monday, 4 February 2008

Postdoc research project: Virtual Intifada 2.0

Virtual Intifada 2.0: Political activism in Lebanon/Palestine and the new generation internet
Internet usage is one of the key features of the changing character of everyday politics in the Middle East. Previous research in Palestine and Lebanon showed that the internet can reinforce state-hegemony, while also enabling new kinds of transnational alliances. Building on these previous experiences with regards to the construction of online community, the new study focuses on how political activists in Lebanon and Palestine implement and experience the power diverse dynamics of internet technologies. The aim is to identify both the offline context of these activists as their online agency, in other words: the specific function the internet has in mobilising public opinion and international protest, and how the visible online political representations correspond to the variety of offline political practices of resistance. The empirical component of the research will thus reveal the complex synergy of the implications of internet in everyday life. I will rely on a multiple set of tools: on-the-ground ethnographic fieldwork in Lebanon and occupied Palestine; online (content and community) ethnography; virtual (network and data) analyses. Tracing the conceptual underpinnings of the utilisation of the internet, and simultaneously mapping the participation of internet activists will expose the deeper/invisible structures underlying the reality of cyber activism. This ‘juxtaposing’ of territorial, methodological and technological levels offers interdisciplinary insights. The broader relevance is reinforced by the timing of this research, by all means considered a vital period in the ‘Middle East conflict’. The study thus deconstructs the discourse about one of the most pressing contemporary conflicts, and in turn hopefully also contributes to realizing justice.