NMIT Working Papers

Working Papers on New Media & Information Technology in the Middle East

Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Blogging, Networked Publics and the Politics of Communication: Another Free-Speech Panacea for the Middle East?

Posted by meaningfulconnections on January 31, 2009

Jon W. Anderson

Revised, keynote address  for a conference on “New Horizons: Obama and the Global Media.” Department of Anthropology, Near Eastern Studies, School of Journalism
University of Arizona. Tucson, AZ – 23 January 2009

On December 10, the White House announced that President Bush would “commemorate the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights by meeting with activists who use Internet blogs and new-media technologies to promote freedom in countries with restricted media environments.” Two were from Iran and Egypt. Before celebration of blogging as free speech and ‘citizen journalism’ disappoints, like the Web in the 1990s or television in the 1950s, I want to consider how we might place a sounder social anthropology under media-minded constructions. How might such activities be grounded in what research shows about networked communication generally and specifically with globalizing media? As interest in global media turns to blogging, my concerns here are two. Read the rest of this entry »

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Globalization, Democracy, the Internet and Arabia

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 15, 2008

Jon W. Anderson (Catholic University of America; CCAS Research Associate)
Revised from a talk given at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, 15 April 2007.

Democracy is the occasional necessity of deferring to the opinions of other people.
-Winston Churchill

In the 1990s, the notion of globalization as the macroscopic conception of contemporary change arrived with a primarily economic emphasis popularized through books like The Twilight of Sovereignty by Walter Wriston,[1] retired CEO of Citicorp, and a penumbra of celebrations from the management world. Through think tanks, it became the doctrine de jour for theorizing the end of the Cold War that updated belief in superiority of markets over planned economies to a more contemporary justification for expansion of open markets beyond bond-trading, where Wriston found it. Globalization seemed to predict what neoliberalism preached; so it is not surprising that searches for globalization moved into additional realms that liberalism had long privileged as drivers of socio-political change in addition to the political-economic.

Among these ‘higher order’ domains are media; and by the mid-1990s much attention had come to focus on new media, particularly of the Internet, Read the rest of this entry »

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Cyberspace and the United Arab Emirates: Searching for Tunes in the Air

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Timothy N. Walters (Zayed University, Dubai, UAE) and Lynne Masel Walters (Texas A&M University)
Paper delivered at the Communication Technology and Policy Division, AEJM, August 2002

ABSTRACT: The United Arab Emirates is attempting to carve a piece of the future out its desert by erecting Internet City on the main road connecting the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This effort is fraught with contradictions. Emiratis are eager for the businesses and jobs that they expect to pull out of cyberspace. Yet, they are reluctant to make social and cultural changes. Policy makers are finding it difficult to deal with the competing demands of traditional religion, culture, and society on the one hand and modern freedom, information interchange and globalization on the other. How they resolve the conflict will determine whether the UAE and its sister countries on the Arabian Peninsula will join the new world or be buried in the old. Read the rest of this entry »

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New Media and U.S. Foreign Policy

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

William A. Rugh
Based on remarks delivered at workshop on New Media and the Reconstruction of Popular Culture in the Arab World. Georgetown University Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies. May 17, 2006.

During the course of the past 15 years, major changes have taken place in Arab media, principally with the emergence of Arab satellite television. Prior to 1990, almost all Arab radio and television channels were government monopolies, and most print media were under various forms of direct and indirect government influence. Arab journalists observed written laws, most of which contained provisions allowing state control of media content one way or another. They also observed unwritten taboos, and many practiced self-censorship. For many Arabs, the only alternatives to media dominated by their governments were foreign broadcasters such as the BBC, VOA & Radio Monte Carlo. The most important exception was found in Lebanon, where the political system fostered newspapers representing a variety of different views. But the electronic media tended to be very uniform and controlled in each country. [1]

That situation began to change in the early 1990s as Arab satellite television stations were established, Read the rest of this entry »

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Convergence, Next Phase of the Information Revolution

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Jon W. Anderson, Catholic University of America

Revised version of a contribution to the workshop on New Media and the Reconstruction of Popular Culture in the Arab World. Georgetown University Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies.  May 17, 2006

Excitement over the revolutionary potentials of new media and information technologies in the Middle East that accompanied the advent of the Internet, satellite television and mobile phones in the 1990s focused on them as alternatives.  New technologies, alternative channels, and indications of alternative political and other discourses breaking into the public suggested transformation of a public sphere, in the main organized institutionally, not only with new voices but also new people.  The boundary-busting potentials of NMIT were seen first in terms of alternatives by those who welcomed them and by those with reservations.  Indeed, reservations – moral, cultural, political anxieties over new information and communications technologies and new media – seemed to confirm their status primarily as alternatives.

Time and experience have outrun this paradigm, however.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Internet, Satellite Television, Telecos | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Negotiating Nationhood on the Net: The Case of the Turcomans and Assyrians of Iraq

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Hala Fattah, Royal Institute of Interfaith Studies, Amman.
Prepared for Going Native on the Net: Indigenous Cyberactivism and Virtual Diasporas over the World Wide Web, edited by Kyra Landzelius (forthcoming from Routledge) … November 2001 .

A central argument that has swirled around the contours of the Iraqi nation from its inception in the 1920s has migrated to the Internet. The argument pits the legitimacy of Iraq as a nation-state against that of a whole host of different “national” communities settled within the modern state. The claim has been Read the rest of this entry »

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Internet and the State: The Rise of Cyberdemocracy in Revolutionary Iran

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Babak Rahimi, European University Institute, Florence.
Paper delivered at the ISA Conference, Brisbane, Australia. Rev: January 2003.

It was not long ago, in the not so long history of information and communication technology (ICTs), that the Internet was hailed as an emerging new democratic medium to undermine authoritarian regimes. Whether considering the increase in competence of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on a global scale or the effect of information on local politics, cyberspace, understood as a digitally constituted means of communication, provided an exciting new frontier where political power manifested itself in a radical democratic way. Such cyber adventures into a virtual horizon anticipated Read the rest of this entry »

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The Digital Revolt: Resistance & Agency on the Net

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Will Taggart, University of Arkansas
Adapted from a paper delivered at a symposium on “Indigenous Cyber-Activism and Virtual Diasporas over the World Wide Web. Gothenburg, Sweden. June 9, 2001.

I would like to open with a vignette taken from anarchist philosopher Hakim Bey:

“In the late 18th or early 19th century a group of runaway slaves and serfs fled from Kentucky into the Ohio Territory, where they inter-married with Natives and formed a tribe – red, white & black – called the Ben Ishmael tribe. The Ishmaels (who seem to have been Islamically inclined) followed an annual nomadic route through the territory, hunting & fishing, and finding work as tinkers and minstrels. They were polygamists, and drank no alcohol. Every winter they returned to their original settlement, where a village had grown.

“But eventually the US Govt. opened the Territory to settlement, and the official pioneers arrived. Around the Ishmael village a town began to spring up, called Cincinnati. Soon it was a big city. But Ishmael village was still there, engulfed & surrounded by “civilization.” Now it was a slum. “Hasn’t something similar happened to the Internet? The original freedom-loving hackers & guerrilla informationists, the true pioneers of cyberspace, are still there. But they have been surrounded by a vastness of virtual “development,” and reduced to a kind of ghetto. True, for a while the slums remain colorful – one can go there for a “good time,” strum a banjo, spark up a romance. Folkways survive. One remembers the old days, the freedom to wander, the sense of openness. But History has gone… somewhere else. Capital has moved on.” (Bey 1996)

On October 6, 2000, a group of Israeli hackers succeeded in shutting down the website of the Hizbollah, setting off an international cyber-conflict unprecedented in its scale and sophistication (iDefense 2001). Various transnational groups of hackers and “defacers” split along nationalistic, religious, and ethnic lines have joined the conflict in reaction to competing media accounts of the most recent uprising in the West Bank and Gaza, alternately known as the second or Al-Aqsa Intifada. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Spatial Politics of Leisure: Internet Use and Access in Tehran, Iran

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Farhang Rouhani, University of Arizona
Expanded from a paper delivered at Conference on the Diffusion of New Information Technology in the Middle East. Tucson, AZ. April 14-16, 2000.


A regular column featured in the now-defunct liberal Iranian newspaper, Azadegan, written by Hossein Derakhshian, focused on the Internet. It was a combination of answers to questions and reports of technological developments, but occasionally addressed social points as well. These social points included concerns over economic stagnation, language constraints, and the lack of Internet availability outside of Tehran (Azadegan, January 11, 2000:9, and January 15, 2000:9). In one column in particular, Derakhshian wrote coyly, “Have you ever thought about the connection between this Internet column and the Politics page? The less said on this topic the better….” (Azadegan, January 3, 2000) Without saying anything directly, Derakhshian was alluding to the complex politics of Internet use in contemporary Iranian society.

The politics of Internet use in Iran, and particularly the potential for the formation of a democratic public sphere through Internet use, revolve around questions of use, control, representation, and accessibility. Read the rest of this entry »

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L’internet en Syrie

Posted by meaningfulconnections on September 6, 2008

Dr. Hasna Askhita, Assad National Library, Damascus
Paper delivered at the International Federation of Library Associations & Institutions meeting on “Réseaux pour le développement des Bibliothèques dans les Etats Arabes.” Beirut, 2-4 March 2000. [English Translation Available]

SOMMAIRE: Pour le Dr. Hasna Askhita, l’internet, cette nouvelle technologie qui devient le moyen d’échange d’information le plus en croissance, constitue aujourd’hui la pierre angulaire des bibliothèques modernes. La Syrie a récemment rejoin la communauté internationale dans ce forum global pour fournir à son peuple la richesse d’information qui est contenu sur le Web. Cette présentation met rapidement en évidence l’importance de l’internet sur tous les aspects de la vie, particulièrement les bibliothèques modernes et l’économie. Elle présente également un aperçu de l’Internet en Syrie depuis les efforts de conscientisation qui ont été fourni avant l’entrée dans les phases de réalisation et les soubressauts à travers lesquels il est passé. Nous mentionnons aussi la liste et nous décrirons les principaux projets liés à l’Internet. Nous nous étendrons aussi sur le future du projet Internet et également sur les projets de certains établissements publics basés sur l’Internet. Read the rest of this entry »

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