279.5 Civic media, embodied practices and creative youth activism in post-election Iran

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 11:33 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Babak RAHIMI , Religious studies , University of London , Tehran , Iran
This study looks at the creative youth activism in the medium of civic media practices tied to the visual strategies adopted by the activists in post-election Iran. The focus is on the complex ways in which representations of visual strategies of youth resistance in new media like Internet can both define and construct knowledge of social movements, partly produced in the contentious field of cyberspace. The study presents a study of the configuration of a media culture of civic resistance that seeks to re-define youth politics in terms of embodied practices of emotions and symbols in alternative mediums of interactions such as Facebook or Persian-language social networking sites like Balatarin. With a focus on the works of Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Luc Nancy and Talal Asad, the paper argues that it is in the visualize culture of embodied practices of loss and sacrifice that new social movements in Iran can be described as significantly creative in the context of authoritarian strictures. Such online visual cultures construct semantics of reality for the young activists and the observers who re-define politics in terms of a drama of mortality, which the state is framed as an imagined adversary to confront and transform through idioms of sacrifice and loss. The study looks at the Green Movement, a protest movement largley constituted by the younger activists and formed after the disputed 2009 presidential election in Iran, and underlines two media cultures of civic resistance in connection with various visualization strategies online: (1) the conceptualization of an imagined community of contentious performers as a social body of activists who seek martyrdom in face of death and (2) the articulation and visualization of activism in embodied mediums of symbolic performances and discursive ways that such modes of activity can be meaningfully decoded and reproduced (and eventually institutionalized) as new form of political action.