Call for Papers
American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
Montreal, November 16-20th 2011
How Social Media is Reshaping Imagined Communities
Once again nationalism is in the air. Recently, the social networking site Facebook provided a platform that helped to mobilize, organize, and invariably transform protests into a successful movement in Egypt. In 2009, Twitter played a significant role in fueling protests in Iran. Such demonstrations around the world not only warrant renewed attention to nationalism but demand an examination of the impact of social media on how people see themselves and others in a changing world.
Social media provides people with a platform to communicate, distribute, and exchange information with massive reach and thus monumental scale. Its impact can be enormous, with the potential to reconstitute the nation-state, both its legacy and its future. It is, perhaps, part of a longer durée. Ten years ago, mobile phones exchanged text messages that sparked a civilian-backed coup in the Philippines. Before that, fax machines played a part in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in China in 1989.
In fact, theories of nationalism conventionally begin with the notion that technologies (e.g. the novel, newspaper, map, census) afford collective and rather standardized senses of place and belonging with radical potential (c.f. Anderson 1983). This panel explores the nature of social media and considers its role as a technology that actively shapes nation-states. While this panel is concerned with Internet-related social media, including social networking, photo/video-sharing, and blogging, it is also interested in thinking about social media more broadly, conceptually, and in relationship to other forms of communication and exchange. The panel seeks not to trumpet the triumph of social media over older forms but rather to critically examine what it reveals about social formations today.
Please send abstracts (roughly 250 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, March 25, 2011.
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