SOAS University of London

London Middle East Institute

New Media and Revolution: Resistance and Dissent in Pre-uprising Syria

IMG - Billie Jeanne Brownlee Book Cover
Billie Jeanne Brownlee (University of Exeter)

Date: 14 December 2021Time: 5:30 PM

Finishes: 14 December 2021Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar



The Arab Spring did not arise out of nowhere. It was the physical manifestation of more than a decade of new media diffusion, use, and experimentation that empowered ordinary people during their everyday lives. In this book, Billie Jeanne Brownlee offers a refreshing insight into the way new media can facilitate a culture of resistance and dissent in authoritarian states.

Investigating the root causes of the Syrian uprising of 2011, New Media and Revolution shows how acts of online resistance prepared the ground for better-organised street mobilisation. The book interprets the uprising not as the start of Syria's social mobilisation but as a shift from online to offline contestation, and from localised and hidden practices of digital dissent to tangible mass street protests. Brownlee goes beyond the common dichotomy that frames new media as either a deus ex machina or a means of expression to demonstrate that, in Syria, media was a nontraditional institution that enabled resistance to digitally manifest and gestate below, within, and parallel to formal institutions of power. To refute the idea that the population of Syria was largely apathetic and apolitical prior to the uprising, Brownlee explains that social media and technology created camouflaged geographies and spaces where individuals could protest without being detected.

Challenging the myth of authoritarian stability, New Media and Revolution uncovers the dynamics of grassroots resistance blossoming under the radar of ordinary politics.

About the speaker

Billie Jeanne Brownlee is a lecturer in Middle East politics at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. In the past few years she has worked in two major fields of research: popular mobilisation and the refugee crisis. Her recent book, New Media and Revolution: Resistence and Dissent in Pre-Uprising Syria (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020) provides an alternative approach to the study of the Syrian uprising by examining the impact that the development of the new media had in reconstructing forms of collective action and social mobilisation in authoritarian settings like Syria.


This webinar will take place online via Zoom. Click here to register

* The webinar will also be live-streamed on our Facebook page for those that are unable to participate via Zoom.

Chair: Dina Matar (SOAS) and Narguess Farzad (SOAS)

Organiser: SOAS Middle East Institute

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