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New protest movements and the mainstreaming of internet politics

March 31, 2014

New protest movements and the mainstreaming of internet politics: a ground-up comparison of Malaysia, Iceland, Tunisia and Spain

Paper to the Anthropology Department seminar, University of Melbourne, Wednesday 16 April 2014, 4.30- 6.00 5.45-7.00 pm.

School of Social and Political Sciences
John Medley (Building 191)
Venue located in the link way on the 4th floor between the two ‘wings’
(entrance 10, off Grattan st.)
The University of Melbourne
Parkville, VIC 3010

John Postill
RMIT University, Melbourne

In this talk I draw from fieldwork in Spain and Malaysia and from secondary research on Tunisia and Iceland to explore the link between the mainstreaming of internet politics (epitomised by organisations such as WikiLeaks, Anonymous or the Pirate Parties) and the emergence of new protest movements around the world in 2009-2011. Inspired by the Manchester School of anthropology, I follow the protest practices and actions of leading ‘freedom technologists’ (geeks, hackers, online journalists, tech lawyers) across online and offline sites. Contra Morozov, I argue that far from being techno-utopians, freedom technologists are in fact pragmatists who are playing crucial parts as protest vanguards in numerous national struggles. In doing so, I am shifting the analytical focus from our current fixation with new protest technologies towards greater attention to a new breed of protest technologists. This suffix is literally the gist of my argument.

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