Friday, October 11, 2013

Professor Rebecca Stein at UofT Anthropology: Viral Occupation - Social Media and Military Rule in Israel/Palestine

Prof. Rebecca Stein speaks at the UofT Anthropology Dept.

On Friday, October 4th, Professor Rebecca Stein of Duke University came to the Anthropology Department to take part in our Anthropology Colloquium Series to speak about her work in the field of cultural anthropology. Prof. Stein spoke eloquently about her research in Israel/Palestine relations, and how social media is intimately linked to military rule and political identity in the region. Her presentation focused on the way new video recording technologies can empower any individual to produce and share footage that can be used for public relations purposes, by both state combatants and insurgents. She placed particular emphasis on the concept of ‘virality’, and how web media such as YouTube, Vine and Instagram enable the viewing public to become infatuated with everything from cats playing the piano to suspect violations of human rights. 

Professor Stein’s talk shed a fascinating light on an area that is often ignored by serious fields of academic study. Popular Internet media is often dismissed when compared to so called reputable news sources such as CNN and BBC, and Professor Stein is examining just how these new sources of information will come to shape the way we perceive popular news subjects – particularly controversial conflicts. I look forward to reading her two new books – When Instagram Goes To War: Social Media, Digital Militarism and Israel’s Occupation (co-authored with Adi Kuntsman, forthcoming from Stanford University Press) and, Viral Occupation: New Media and Israeli Military Rule (in progress) and I would suggest anyone interested in the dynamics of that region check it out as well!

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