Workshop: Regional conflicts and contested spatial identities in the digital sphere

Workshop: Regional conflicts and contested spatial identities in the digital sphere

3-4 November 2017, Erlangen, Germany

(workshop program as *.pdf)


Organizers: Georg Glasze & Christian Bittner (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg), Elad Segev (Tel Aviv University)

The communication of specific narratives of collective identity often plays a major role in settings of regional conflicts. Hegemonic actors or majority groups promote narratives that justify claims on territory, natural resources or simply political power. Marginalized groups are mobilized through counter narratives of being a community of fate, sharing a common history, destiny and cultural heritage. In these struggles, influence upon and access to communication media constitutes a vital strategic value. These relationships can be witnessed in manifold regional conflicts, be it in Israel/Palestine, in Ukraine, the Kashmir region, Western Sahara, Catalonia, etc.

Digital communication technologies have created new opportunities for information flows across borders and social groups of all kinds and scales. Online platforms are employed for participation, empowerment, and emancipation of marginalized groups, providing new actors with the ability to articulate their perspectives and reach a wider audience. However there are not only new possibilities for social inclusion but also  various patterns of communication exclusion, such as language bubbles, content filters, demographic biases, skill levels, governmental restrictions, or the unequal distribution of net infrastructures. While acknowledging the empowering potential of the internet, new studies emphasize the (re)production and manifestation of uneven power structures and societal hierarchies through and within the internet. These multifaceted inclusion/exclusion mechanisms can be summarized under the umbrella term of digital divide(s).

Within these heterogeneous socio-technological constellations, we want to assess the transformative potential of the internet for contested spatial identities in the settings of regional conflicts. How are conflicting identities negotiated in the digital sphere? To what extend are marginalized voices and perspectives being articulated through digital communication technologies? What strategies do traditional gatekeepers and hegemonic actors pursue to maintain their privileged speaker positions? What is the role of digital divides or state restrictions on digital communication infrastructures?

The proposed workshop wants to bring together international scholars from various academic disciplines who are involved in critical research on online-negotiations of spatial identities in the context of regional conflicts. It aspires an assessment and systematization of the various dimensions of collective identity formation in the internet as well as fruitful exchange on methodological aspects of online and offline research in the thematic field.

Friday, 03.11.2017

Starting at 12.00: get-together with finger food

13:00 Christian BittnerFriedrich- Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Welcome
13:20 Georg GlaszeFriedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Beyond “liberation technologies”: thinking about regional conflicts and contested spatial identities in the digital sphere
13:40 Arik Segal
Hadassa Academic College Jerusalem
The use of social media platforms in international conflict management
14:20 Ronit Kampf Tel Aviv University Role-taking and attitude change in a computerized simulation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: direct party vs. distant party
15:00 Coffee Break
15:30 Sanna OjanperäUniversity of Oxford Studying the impact of ICT policies on growth patterns oflocal online content in Sub-Saharan Africa
16:10 Elad SegevTel Aviv University Provocation narratives as a communication strategy in international news
16:50 Coffee Break
17:10 Tobias Schopper, Thilo Wiertzboth University of Freiburg Quantitative approaches to text and tweets: negotiating culture and identity in German federalelections


Starting at 19:00: group dinner


Saturday, 04.11.2017

9:00 Coffee
9:20 Romain Leconte, Claude Graslandboth Paris Diderot University, International College of Territorial Sciences Paris,UMR Géographie-citésMarta SeveroUniversity Paris Nanterre, International College of Territorial Sciences Paris,Dicen-idf Contested visions of Europe during refugees’ crisis:traditional gatekeepers in the digital sphere
10:00 Lea Bauer
Leibniz Insitute for Regional Geography Leipzig
Tactical maptivism.Exploring tactics of political formation in activists counter-mapping practices – examplesfrom refugee maps
10:40 Coffee Break
11:00 Frederik von Reumont, Sebastian Seidel
both University of Cologne
Taking the battle to cyberspace – delineating borders and mapping identities in Western Sahara
11:40 Benjamin HeidrichOtto von Guericke University Magdeburg The discursive construction of the future state in the Syrian civil war
12:20 Lunch Break
13:20 Christian BittnerFriedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Online mapping platforms and spatial identities, the case of Israel/Palestine
14:00 –15:00 Elad Segev (discussant)Tel Aviv University Concluding discussion


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