Merlyna Lim – On/Offline Activism:CITP Luncheon Series
The Making of Contemporary Social Movements in Digital and Urban Spaces
Recent uprisings, from the Arab Spring to Spanish Indignados, from Occupy Wall Street movements to Malaysian Bersih, are characterized by an important incorporation of digital media. However, while the new social movements may have been figuratively and digitally ignited in social media spaces, the movements themselves took form, materialized and claimed power far outside digital social networks. They transpired in public urban spaces – on the streets and in the squares. While digital media provides new opportunities for cost-effective networking, mobilization and diffusion of shared grievances, a digital media based movement is rarely an end in itself. Rather, the digital realm provides a new layer of space where non-corporeal activities can take place. Digital media and physical urban spaces have become interdependent dimensions of social movements. Together they provide ‘spaces’ for people to enact human agency and expand the movements’ social networks. How, then, should we conceptualize the relationship between digital and urban spaces in the making of contemporary social movements?
By reading and analyzing social movements spatially, this talk offers to illuminate the complex relationship between movements, urban space and digital media. Using empirical evidence from various contexts, the talk attempts to generate conceptual and theoretical frameworks of the dialectical interplay between digital media and physical urban spaces in the making of contemporary social movements.
Merlyna Lim is a Visiting Research Scholar with the Center of Information Technology Policy, Princeton University. She is a Distinguished Scholar of Technology and Public Engagement with the School of Social Transformation and Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes in Arizona State University. During her time at CITP, she will work on the book manuscript conceptualizing and exploring on cyber-urban connections in the making of contemporary social movements globally.