Networking Issue

The Editor. April 5, 2011

Letter from the Editor

Post image for Letter from the Editor

This is the first issue of Arseh Sevom’s Civil Society Zine. For the first topic, we chose to look at networks and networking: traditional, social, and digital. When we started soliciting contributions in 2010, there was no “Arab Spring.” No one knew that protesters in Tunisia and Egypt would be able to unseat long-term leaders [...]


The Editor. April 5, 2011

Iran in Ferment

Post image for Iran in Ferment

In this piece, researcher Ladan Boroumand provides insight into the ways in which civil rights activists influenced the political debate during the 2009 presidential campaign in Iran. In hindsight, it can seem as though the results of that election were a foregone conclusion that could not have been influenced by the electoral process. Still, as [...]

{ 0 comments } In the second of their two contributions, Halleh Ghorashi and Kees Boersma present on overview of Iranian diaspora networks and the changes that occurred with the rise of a nascent civil society in Iran, the 2003 Nobel award to Shirin Ebadi, and the earthquake in Bam in the second of their two contributions to [...]

{ 1 comment }

Post image for Creating the Impossible: The Invisible Network of Britain’s Activist Subculture

They are pervasive and loud, many with half-shaven heads, rowdy barking mixed-breed dogs, and mud-encrusted dreadlocks. Yet their network may as well be invisible to the authorities who have spent the better part of thirty years failing to stamp it out. How does this raggle-taggle band of Britain’s prevalent environmental activists (also known as eco-warriors or protesters) evade countless attempts of infiltration and eradication?


The Editor. March 25, 2011

The Networked Diaspora

Rhizomic roots

For as long as people have looked for new opportunities, resources and biotopes, migration has taken place. It is only in modern times that the displacement of people has occurred under the constraints of nation states, regulations, and rules of legitimization. In the modern world, system boundaries — national borders — are seen as regulating the process of demographic developments and migration flows. The era of globalization, characterized by what Manuel Castells[2] (1996) calls the rise of the network society, has created a foundation for the emergence of newly constructed forms of local and/or transnational cultural ‘imagined communities’. One of the impacts of recent globalization is the formation of new offline and online transnational connections among migrants worldwide. The formation of these networked communities is often linked to concepts such as home(land) and identity.


The Editor. March 24, 2011

As Strong as Our Signal

Virtual Evin Prison

Human rights activist Mana Mostatabi takes a look at the ways in which new media is transforming activism. She asks hard questions about just how effective “clicktivism can be when trying to take action for positive changes. What happens to those tweets and retweets? Just how big of a ripple do they make? As Strong [...]

{ 1 comment }

Post image for Iran's reformists and activists: Internet exploiters

In this piece, authors Babak Rahimi and Elham Gheytanchi examine the roots of digital activism in Iran. They present cases showing the ways in which internet technologies have been used by reformist clerics and the women’s movement as a means for communicating their message to a broader audience and maintaining opposition messages. Iran’s Reformists and [...]

{ 1 comment }

Twitter Revolution?

PhD candidate Donya Alinejad poses questions about techno-utopianism, Cold War imagery, and the real and imagined effects of social networking and the internet in creating offline actions. The town square is still the town square, she asserts pointing to recent uprisings in Egypt and Libya. The death of the “twitter revolution” and the struggle over [...]


The Editor. March 11, 2011

Let’s Beef Up and Meet Up

Post image for Let’s Beef Up and Meet Up

For the past few years, Iranian cyber activists have used Western sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Wordpress and other blogging tools with enthusiasm and intelligence. They have also created their own platforms such as Balatarin, which is reminiscent of Digg, and Gooya, which predates blogging and was born as a kind of political yellow pages, expanding into news gathering and political discussions.

{ 1 comment }

Post image for Creating Social Capital in Politically Restrictive Environments

To preserve power and political stability, many repressive regimes have taken measures to prohibit extensive civic engagement and bar the development of a free, civil society. In cases where engagement in the physical public sphere may be limited, a rise in virtual space has provided alternative mode for collective organization, linking closed societies to an open sphere of civic dialogue. The question remains then, can civic engagement in the virtual sphere allow repressed societies to create social capital equivalent to that seen in the open, democratic physical sphere? As we will examine later in this article, the power behind Iran’s Weblogistan has been playing a crucial role in developing ideologies, increasing interconnectedness, and strengthening social ties. Through the weblog and similar mediums of virtual communication, technology presents an alternative to traditional public space in engaging individuals, connecting society, and developing social trust.


Post image for Two Faces of Revolution: (Or, why dictators fear the internet)

The events in Tunisia and Egypt have riveted the region and the world. The eruptions of people power have shaken and taken down the seeming unbreakable edifices of dictatorship.  (At the time of writing Mubarak has not formally acknowledged that he has been toppled, but the force of the movement is too powerful and determined to fathom any other outcome). Events are moving at breakneck speed and a new narrative for the future is swiftly being written. In the throes of a changing future it merits returning to the stories of two young men, the two faces that stoked the flames of revolution thanks to the persistence of on-line citizen activists who spread their stories. For in the tragic circumstances surrounding their deaths are keys to understanding what has driven throngs of citizens to the streets.


The Editor. March 10, 2011

From a Beep to a Whisper

Post image for From a Beep to a Whisper

Journalist Nazila Fathi, reminds us all of those heady days after the 2009 elections when millions took to the streets in Tehran and other cities in Iran to protest the announced results. From a Beep to a Whisper by Nazila Fathi It was on a Tuesday, 12 days after the election that the opposition planned [...]

{ 1 comment }