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Online Activism and Citizen Participation “Kony2012” : Thin Solution for Thick Problem?

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Presentation on theme: "Online Activism and Citizen Participation “Kony2012” : Thin Solution for Thick Problem?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Online Activism and Citizen Participation “Kony2012” : Thin Solution for Thick Problem?

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3 "War, Famine, Plague & Death are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and these days they're riding hard through the back roads of Africa.” Bob Geldof Quoted in William Easterly: What Bono doesn't say about Africa Celebrities like to portray it as a basket case, but they ignore very real progress. LA Times July 6, "From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex." Teju https://twitter.com/#%21/tejucole>

4 Questions…. What's new about the representations of Africa in "Kony 2012"? Are they old messages in new media bottle? Does the video represent theft of agency and voices from Africans themselves? What can we learn from the video about the characteristics of "new" media that made them different from traditional media?

5 Can we raise awareness about complex issues without oversimplification? Why is critical media literacy more important than ever before? Are we seeing new forms of political participation? What are the impact of social media campaign on policy making? What important lessons about advocacy can we learn from this and similar episodes? Who are Facebook, Youtube, TED etc., empowering?

6 Convergence of two trends “Saving Africa” “Digital Activism”

7 Invisible Children: Storytelling-Based Activism Media as Development 50% of its budget spend on media production and events discourses of personal growth mixed in with messages of hope

8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc

9 What are the key features of the “script”? What actions from the viewers does the video promote?

10 The Script Once upon a time… Good guy vs bad guy Get ride of the bad guy and problem solved Happily ever after…

11 Types of actions Consumption Donation invisible night protest – cover the night clickism. ‘performative action that [does] not require solidarity…and [can be] devoid of any critical or radical urge’ (Tatarchevsky 2011, 309–310)

12 Henry Jenkins Civic Path research group (Spencer Foundation) Youth and Participatory Politics (MacArthur Foundnation) Digital activism as new forms of civic learning “using social media and participatory culture tactics to empower young people to see themselves as active political agents who can make a difference in the world” “Awareness of Kony 2012 remains highest among teens and young adults, suggesting how central these same groups were to circulating the video from the start.”

13 Transmedia mobilization “The "Movement," as Invisible Children calls its US- facing work, includes visually-arresting films, spectacular event-oriented campaigns, provocative graphic t-shirts and other apparel, music mixes, print media, blogs and more. To be a member of Invisible Children means to be a viewer, participant, wearer, reader, listener, commenter of and in the various activities, many mediated, that make up the Movement. It is a massive, open-ended, evolving documentary "story" unfurling across an expanding number of media forms.” Lana Swartz content/uploads/2012/03/Swartz_InvisibleChildren_Wor kingPaper.pdf

14 new media tactics and practices. Share a “secret” Use simple narratives Create a “meme” Tap celebrities Use cute kids Ask people to join a movement Propose simple solutions Don’t underestimate people’s attention spend

15 Not a Click Away: Joseph Kony in the Real World “I’ve spent my career writing, researching and traveling through Africa, and what I am always astounded by is how little I know. I couldn’t explain to my son, much less offer a solution to, any of the conflicts I’ve worked on, anymore than I could explain to him why so many people are poor or homeless in America, why our public schools are failing, or why we don’t have better healthcare. I can’t explain the world I have focused on daily for most of my life, and yet this film would have you think that in thirty minutes of child-talk, we can somehow understand, and then resolve, a conflict in a distant part of the world.” Dinaw Mengestu


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