Infrastructures of empire: towards a critical geopolitics of media and information studies

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Aouragh, M. ; Chakravartty, P. (2016)

The Arab Uprisings of 2011 can be seen as a turning point for media and information studies scholars, many of whom newly discovered the region as a site for theories of digital media and social transformation. This work has argued that digital media technologies fuel or transform political change through new networked publics, new forms of connective action cultivating liberal democratic values. These works have, surprisingly, little to say about the United States and other Western colonial powers’ legacy of occupation, ongoing violence and strategic interests in the region. It is as if the Arab Spring was a vindication for the universal appeal of Western liberal democracy delivered through the gift of the Internet, social media as manifestation of the ‘technologies of freedom’ long promised by Cold War. We propose an alternate trajectory in terms of reorienting discussions of media and information infrastructures as embedded within the resurgence of idealized liberal democratic norms in the wake of the end of the Cold War. We look at the demise of the media and empire debates and ‘the rise of the BRICS’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) as modes of intra-imperial competition that complicate earlier Eurocentric narratives media and empire. We then outline the individual contributions for the special collection of essays.
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