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Social Media and Human Rights


Joss Hands

R(w)SM Reading Group, Nov 13, 2014, 2-4pm, Seminar Room, Sociology


I am reader in media and critical theory and Director of ARCMedia (Anglia Research Centre in Media and Culture) at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, a trans-disciplinary research centre set up to explore the intersections between media, film, politics, culture and society. 

My recent research interests can be broadly described under the banner of network politics and culture, a field broadly located at the intersection of technology, new media in particular, with politics and critical theory. My focus has been in two main areas, firstly on, the role of technology in providing an arena for the expression of dissent and the organisation of resistance movements, secondly in the role of technology in more formal democratic procedures, specifically the role of the Internet in contributing towards the development of deliberative democracy. I have published articles, review essays and reviews in journals such as Philosophy and Social Criticism, Cultural Politics, First Monday and Information, Communication and Society. I have recently written a book on new media and activism titled '@ is for Activism: Dissent, Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture', published by Pluto Press in 2011 and Co-Edited a special issue of Culture Machine on ‘Platform Politics’

I was principal investigator and co-organiser on a two year AHRC funded project ‘Exploring New Configurations of Network Politics,’ a two year project investigating the nature of politics in the digital age. The project consisted of a number of events in the UK and North America, and involves contributions from leading researchers, activists and practitioners from around the world. 

I teach Media Studies at Anglia Ruskin University, leading a range modules exploring the media and the politics, the political economy of the media, media and philosophy and theories of digital culture.

Presentation overview

@ is for Activism and Beyond

It's been over three years since the publication of @ is for activism, and in that time we’ve seen momentous changes in the world of global protest and resistance - from the Arab Spring to the Indignados of Spain, the Occupy Movement and recently the ‘Umbrella’ revolution in Hong Kong. All of these movements have been connected with digital media, but in particular social media. In my introduction, I will be reflecting on the underpinning argument of the book and whether it is still relevant to these new global movements and technologies. 

Key reading

 Chapter 6, '@ is also for Alter-Globalisation' in: Hands, J., 2011. @ is for Activism: Dissent, Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture First Edition edition., London ; New York, NY: Pluto Press.

Supplementary readings

Preface in: Klein, N., 2010. Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Globalization Debate, London: Flamingo. 

Hands, J. & Quinney, J., 2010. Activism in a Digital Culture.  New Left Project

Hardt, M., 2002. Porto Alegre: Today’s Bandung?  New Left Review.

Chapter 3 in: Lovink, G., 2012. Networks Without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media 1 edition., Cambridge, UK ; Malden, Mass: Polity Press.

About this website

This is the website for Ella McPherson's work related to her 2014-17 ESRC-funded research project, Social Media, Human Rights NGOs, and the Potential for Governmental Accountability.