‘Palestine Online’ VU mini book launch on Friday 24 June.
By Miriyam Aouragh The Internet is a key feature in the changing character of Arab politics. This topic has seen an explosive spur since the ongoing December/January Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. But the political utilisation was most apparent since the outbreak of the Palestinian Al Aqsa’ Intifada [uprising] late 2000. The Palestinian Intifada fused with the birth of the internet.
Aouragh disseminates two main tensions when studying internet usage amongst Palestinians: mobility vs. immobility and space vs. place. Employing the strategy of a grounded anthropologist, the author enriches online internet/media studies with offline methodology, and vise versa. While filling this gap –roughly speaking, that between qualitative empirical anthropology and quantitative journalistic studies – she sets out to expose the deeper/invisible structures underlying virtual reality.
Aouragh argues that the internet reinforced state-oppression and mainstream media hegemony, yet also enabled new-fangled transnational alliances and political imaginations. She starts from the idea that Palestinian communities exhibit new modes of interactions and, most significantly, have in due course constructed a parallel Palestine, one ‘online’. This Palestine Online is presented as a virtual platform gathering Palestinians of different diasporic localities formerly separated by boundaries and travel restrictions. To demonstrate the offline dynamics Aouragh describes grassroots initiatives such as Across Borders Project which was able to bridge territorial separations; reconnecting many Palestinians for the first time since 1948 and on a scale previously unseen. Palestinian websites became ‘mediating spaces’ through which the Palestinian nation is globally imagined and reshaped. Furthermore, the Arabization of the interface and the mushrooming internet cafes have made the internet a community and non-elite technology. These developments in due course contributed to the ‘rehumanization’ of Palestinians in the global public sphere. Lees verder