Citizen Activism the Past Decade

Posted by Nilofar Ansher at Jul 19, 2012 09:15 AM |
Call for Contributions to the ‘Digital Natives with a Cause?’ newsletter, ‘Citizen Activism the Past Decade’. Deadline: August 15, 2012.

The past decade (2001 – 2011) has been marked by unprecedented democratic protests across the globe. Not only have citizens risen against autocratic regimes or systemic corruption, which is not unprecedented in itself, but also, a spark in one region inflamed solidarity among neighbouring nations to pick up the placards and march for change. Plenty has been written about the strategic deployment of social media, Web 2.0 platforms and Smart-gadgets by the digital natives (the youth and the old alike) to rewrite the rules of citizen activism.

In this issue of the newsletter, we explore the mechanics of activism aided by media: web, social, digital, and traditional. What do we understand by a cause and how does it find resonance at the local and global platforms? Is the digital native a community player or a global citizen? How do digital natives connect, collaborate, mobilize and bring about their visions of change? The aim is to not establish or reinforce these dichotomies, if indeed they exist, but to understand the dimensions of the stage the digital natives operate on and if that stage is a synecdoche for global youth-led civic action. A case in point: ‘Slut Walk’ moved from being a one-off march in Toronto to becoming a global movement and came full circle when small towns and cities across the world organized protest marches with a local ‘twist’.

Topics that contributors can explore:

    • What do we understand by citizen activism? How has citizen activism changed over the last 10 years with the advent of new media tools?
    • Youth as 'change agents'. Are protest movements youth oriented today? How are civil rights movements of the past decade different from the wave of movements that marked the 60s? (women's lib, LGBT rights, civil rights, disability rights). Explore the mechanics of organizing, mobilizing and measuring the success of a campaign in both the cases.
    • Participatory Politics and Web 2.0 | Value and power of the Network in effecting change | Mobilizing support and consensus within the network |studies on politically active youth using social media | digital natives as apathetic citizens | Is Slacktivism still a misunderstood term?
    • Kony 2012 video campaign | interviews | what went wrong and what did they do right? | Rise of DIY activism | mechanics of digital activism | resources, tools and strategies
    • Rise of the ‘Glocal’ (global with local resonance) cause | Slut Walk and Co – global protests inspiring local campaigns | Children of globalization with global stakes supporting local causes – how does this work?
    • Role of new media as a vehicle for civic engagement | Are new media and traditional media mutually exclusive in influencing citizen action? | How are new media strategies deployed by citizens in comparison with traditional media engagement?
    • Learning from past campaigns: citizen activism initiates and strategies in history that inspire modern campaigns (The ‘Walk to Work’ protest in Uganda protesting against fuel price hike and removal of subsidies is similar to Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March in pre-independence India to protest against Salt Tax).
    • Finding commonalities in citizen activism across Asia, Africa and Middle East | Explore the citizen action campaigns that have shaped political discourse in the past decade | Explore some of the most successful youth action campaigns of the past decade
    • How do we measure value, quality and success of campaigns? When does a protest officially end? Studies that explore the life-cycle of a protest or movement
    • The future of activism: new technologies, new demography, new forms of engagement | art and activism | Gamification
    • Role of non-governmental organizations and civil society networks in fostering political change | collaboration between NGOs and social media activists / independent protesters
    • State and the empowered citizen | State response to protest | surveillance and censorship
    • Technologies of protest
    • Studying citizen activism | digital native research methodology to study citizen activism

      To know more about the topics you can write about, please write to: [email protected] (Nilofar Ansher, Community Manager). Contributions can be in the form of essays, notes, commentaries, reviews (book or paper), dialogues and chat transcript, poems, sketches / graphics. Essay word count between 800-1,600 words. Send your entries along with a brief bio and a profile picture by August 15, 2012.

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