Through specific case studies, the project helps explicate ways in which activists across the Middle East both negotiate and make creative use of new imaging technologies depending on the circumstances in which they are operating. The project thus insists on foregrounding the contextual roots of political contention and its media, and on re-centring the agency of human beings over technologies. Each circumstance generates specific media-related needs, and local actors will modify and renew their media-making strategies to address these shifting needs – within the boundaries of existing media ecologies that offer different opportunities and constraints in each historical circumstance. A focus on local settings and lived experience reveals both overarching patterns as well as variations in the role and meaning that new imaging technologies have for activists and protest movements in the region.
The project’s case studies are organized in three substantive parts that each considers forms, practices and organization of image activism in the Arab region with regard to 1) archiving efforts, 2) on-the-ground efforts to document ongoing struggles and atrocities, and 3) the political economy of the media environment in which activists now live and have to contend with.