Counter-Revolutions Vs. Counter-Marginalization Movements: (Re)Visiting the Online Tug-of-War a Decade After the Arab Spring

Ten years after the eruption of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, which had a wide range of eclectic outcomes, it became obvious that the transitions to democratization have been derailed in the so-called post-Arab Spring countries, with the exception of Tunisia. This presentation unpacks the complexity of the parallel surge in anti-authoritarianism resistance movements, on one hand, and repressive counter-revolutionary movements, on the other hand, in this post-Arab Spring mediated political and media environment. It explains how anti-authoritarian activists continue to resist dictatorships across the Arab world, using a plethora of digital media platforms, and how authoritarian regimes are using the same digital tools and techniques, in parallel, to sabotage such efforts. In doing so, it illustrates how the phenomenon of “cyberactivism” is opening up new horizons in this ongoing tug-of-war between authoritarian rulers and their opponents in the Arab region, who are not just resisting political repression, but are also pushing back against all forms of gender-based, socially-based, culturally-based, and politically-based marginalization and discrimination, simultaneously.

Marc Owen Jones received his BA in Journalism, Film and Broadcasting from Cardiff University in 2006, and a CASAW-funded MSc in Arab World Studies from the University of Durham in 2010. Following this, he completed his PhD (funded by the AHRC/ESRC) in 2016 at Durham, where he wrote an interdisciplinary thesis on the history of political repression in Bahrain. His thesis won the 2016 AGAPS prize. He spent much of his childhood in Bahrain, and has also lived in various parts of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria. Prior to joining HBKU, he won a Teach at Tubingen Award at Tuebingen University’s Institute for Political Science, and worked as a Lecturer in the History of the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula at Exeter University’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. He has edited two books, and an upcoming monograph on political repression in Bahrain with Cambridge University Press. In addition to his academic work, he enjoys communicating his research to broader audiences, and has bylines in the Washington Post, New Statesman, CNN, the Independent, PEN International, and several others. He has also appeared frequently on the BBC, Channel 4 News, and Al Jazeera.

Dr. Sahar Khamis is an expert on Arab and Muslim media, and the former Head of the Mass Communication and Information Science Department in Qatar University. She is a former Mellon Islamic Studies Initiative Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago.

She is the co-author of the books: Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and Egyptian Revolution 2.0: Political Blogging, Civic Engagement and Citizen Journalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and the co-editor of Arab Women’s Activism and Socio-Political Transformation: Unfinished Gendered Revolutions (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Additionally, she authored and co-authored numerous book chapters, journal articles and conference papers, regionally and internationally, in both English and Arabic. She is the recipient of a number of prestigious academic and professional awards, as well as a member of the editorial boards of several journals in the field of communication, in general, and the field of Arab and Muslim media, in particular.

Dr. Khamis is a media commentator and analyst, a public speaker, a human rights commissioner in the Human Rights Commission in Montgomery County, Maryland, and a radio host, who presents a monthly radio show on “U.S. Arab Radio” (the first Arab-American radio station broadcasting in the U.S. and Canada).