Papers & Briefs

Paper cover, artwork on US-Mexico border wall

Toward a Cultural Framework of Internet Governance: Russia’s Great Power Identity and the Quest for a Multipolar Digital Order

Stanislav Budnitsky

CARGC Paper 13, “Toward a Cultural Framework of Internet Governance: Russia’s Great Power Identity and the Quest for a Multipolar Digital Order,” by CARGC Postdoctoral Fellow Stanislav Budnitsky was initially delivered as a CARGC Colloquium in 2018. As part of Budnitsky’s larger research project on the relationship between nationalism and global internet governance, CARGC Paper 13 considers the cultural logics underlying Russia’s global internet governance agenda. It argues that to understand Russia’s digital vision in the early twenty-first century and, by extension, the dynamics of global internet politics writ large, scholars must incorporate Russia’s historic self-identification as a great power into their analyses.

Paper cover, artwork on US-Mexico border wall

Cities Help Us Hack Formal Power Systems

Saskia Sassen, Columbia University

Initially delivered as the 2017 CARGC Distinguished Lecture in Global Communication, CARGC Paper 12 presents an analysis of cities as complex, diverse, and incomplete systems. For Sassen, it is precisely these features of urban forms – their complexity, diversity and incompleteness – that offer the possibility of a new type of politics, centered on new types of political actors. She is particularly interested in two features of global cities: their presence as strategic frontier zones where actors from different worlds can meet without clear rules of engagement and their strategic importance for hacking old orders.

Paper cover, art on US-Mexico border wall

Dreamers and Donald Trump:

Anti-Trump Street Art Along the US-Mexico Border

Julia Becker

What tools are at hand for residents living on the US-Mexico border to respond to mainstream news and presidential-driven narratives about immigrants, immigration, and the border region? How do citizen activists living far from the border contend with President Trump’s promises to “build the wall,” enact immigration bans, and deport the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States? CARGC Paper 11, “Dreamers and Donald Trump: Anti-Trump Street Art Along the US-Mexico Border,” answers these questions through a textual analysis of street art in the border region, examining Donald Trump’s rhetoric about immigration, and analyzing how street art situated at the border becomes a medium of protest in response to that rhetoric.

Paper cover, man in hood with fist up and Soviet Union symbol across face

Contextualizing Hacktivism:

The Criminalization of Redhack

Bülay Doğan

Through an empirical examination of the criminalization of the Turkish hacktivist group Redhack in social, legal, and cultural discourses, CARGC Paper 10 — “Contextualizing Hacktivism: The Criminalization of Redhack” by Bülay Doğan — explores the critical conflation of hacktivism with cyber-terrorism that enables states to criminalize non-violent hacktivist groups.

Paper cover, female protestors holding signs and smiling

Mediating Possibility after Suffering:

Meaning Making of the Micro-political through Digital Media

Samira Rajabi

CARGC Paper 9, “Mediating Possibility after Suffering: Meaning Making of the Micro-political through Digital Media,” by CARGC Postdoctoral Fellow Samira Rajabi, is based on Rajabi’s 2018 CARGC Colloquium. Using three empirical case studies from Instagram, Rajabi examines the Trump administration’s 2017 travel ban as a traumatic experience and its digital mediation. First exploring a general understanding of trauma as it relates to global media studies, she then develops the notion of “symbolic trauma” to understand how Iranian-Americans mediated the travel ban’s effects.

Woman singing on stage

Vamping the Archives:

Approaching Aesthetics in Global Media

Rayya El Zein

CARGC Paper 8, “Vamping the Archive: Approaching Aesthetics in Global Media,” by CARGC Postdoctoral Fellow Rayya El Zein, is based on El Zein’s CARGC Colloquium and draws its inspiration from Metro al-Madina’s Hishik Bishik Show in Beirut. CARGC Paper 8 weaves assessments of local and regional contexts, aesthetic and performance theory, thick description, participant observation, and interview to develop an approach to aesthetics in cultural production from the vantage of global media studies that she calls “vamping the archive.”

Telephone poles in a rural field

Thoughts on a Critical Theory of Rural Communication

Christopher Ali

CARGC Paper 7 begins with the provocative question, “What Does It Mean to Be Rural?” In answering this question and taking up the difficult task to “theorize the rural,” former CARGC fellow Christopher Ali drew on critical scholarship in media and communication studies, political economy, critical geography, phenomenology, and mobility studies to point the way forward for a critical theory of rural communication. He argues that understanding the rural is essential to understanding the dynamics of our globalized and networked world.

Cuba street scene with parked cars and buildings

Emergent Voices and Evolving Agendas:

Writing Realities in Cuba’s New Media Landscape

Mariela Morales Suárez

Drawn from Morales Suárez’s Penn Honors Thesis about the evolution of the Cuban media landscape, and developed during her CARGC Undergraduate Fellowship, CARGC Paper 6 presented findings from an empirical study of Cuban journalists, their decision-making practices, the motivations that drive them, the challenges they face, and the opportunities they crave. Morales Suárez conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a group of independent Cuban journalists recruited from twenty non-governmental publications during the spring of 2017.

Woman standing by large body of water

On the Maintenance of Humanity:

Learning from Refugee Mobile Practices

Mimi Sheller

This CARGC Paper drew on Sheller’s Distinguished Lecture and presented a project in collaboration with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and French curator Guillaume Logé. For many refugees, smartphones have become their most valuable asset. While theories of migration have long spoken of the “double absence” of migrants (both from their country of origin and from their host country), Sheller identified that certain researchers now allude to the “double presence” made possible by ICT. This paper explored the increasingly intrinsic overlap between physical and virtual mobility.

Abstract artwork with two figures standing on blocks

The Academic Digital Divide and Uneven Global Development

Arjun Appadurai

CARGC Paper 4 reprinted Appadurai’s October 2015 Distinguished Lecture at PARGC. In it, he warned against the dangers of “knowledge-based imperialism and scholarly apartheid” and offered possible ways to avoid them. Appadurai identified a growing rift between media studies and communication studies, with scholars concerned with institutions, power, resources, and large-scale data on one side, and scholars concerned with interpretation, texts, languages, and images on the other. Yet, despite the history of this divide, in CARGC Paper 4, Appadurai outlined what we can do to close the growing distance between media and communication studies.

Video camera filming a lecture

Media Oversight in Non-Democratic Regimes:

The Perspectives of Officials and Journalists in China

Maria Repnikova

CARGC Paper 3 grew out of Repnikova’s 2014 Postdoctoral Fellow Colloquium. In it, Repnikova rebuked a popular projection in comparing media landscapes based on a binary vision of free versus not free and objectivity versus propaganda. The frequent focus of Western media on censorship in authoritarian regimes, Repnikova argued, highlights the gap between media practices in democratic and non-democratic contexts. Challenging these conceptions, CARGC Paper 3 examined a journalism practice generally associated with democratic contexts — investigative reporting — in a regime most renowned for censorship and pervasive propaganda — contemporary China.

View from gun of fighter

Making Real-Time Drama:

The Political Economy of Cultural Production in Syria’s Uprising

Donatella Della Ratta

In CARGC Paper 2, Della Ratta explored how one 2013 Syrian television serial, Wilada min al-Khasira [Birth from the Waist] responded in real time to unfolding events of the Syrian revolution. She argued that the serial offers a living site for scholarly reflection on how cultural production and the power relations that shape it might shift, recombine, and adapt in the context of the three-year-old uprising turned into an armed conflict. Della Ratta mobilized the television serial to explore how the geopolitical relationships between Syrian and Gulf political elites had been dramatically reconfigured.

Abstract structure

In the Shadow of Official Ambition:

National Media Policy Confronts Global Media Capital

Michael Curtin

CARGC Paper 1 drew on Curtin’s then book project, Media Capital, which compares and contrasts cities that have become centers of the global film and television industries, such as Bombay, Lagos, and Miami. In the paper, Curtin explored the implications of Chinese cultural policy within the broader context of media globalization, providing a framework for understanding the logics of media capital and the challenges confronting national governments, making comparisons to Arab, African, and Indian media, and reflecting on the prospects for creativity and diversity in film and television.

Brief cover, black and white abstract background with "ISIS Media" written multiple times

CARGC Briefs Volume I:

ISIS Media

Yara M. Damaj, Michael Degerald, Kareem El Damanhoury, Katerina Girginova, Rowan Howard-Williams, Brian Hughes, Mohammed Salih, John Vilanova, and William Youmans

The essays that comprise CARGC Briefs Volume I: ISIS Media began their lives as presentations at a small, by-invitation workshop, “Emerging Work on Communicative Dimensions of Islamic State,” held on May 3-4, 2017 at the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication. Consistent with CARGC’s mission to mentor early-career scholars, the workshop was a non-public event featuring graduate students, some affiliated with the Jihadi Networks of Communication and CultureS (JINCS) research group at CARGC, and others from around the United States and the world, in addition to postdocs and faculty members. Parameters were purposefully broad to encourage independent thought and intellectual exploration: contributors were asked to write short essays focusing on any single aspect of Islamic State that was part of their research. The result is a group of fascinating essays: using mostly primary sources (textual, visual, or audio-visual), examining several media platforms and modalities, considering multiple levels of theoretical deployment and construction, and shedding light on various aspects of Islamic State communication against the broad back drop of history, ideology, and geopolitics, the following include some of the most innovative approaches to Islamic State to date, and promise a wave of fresh voices on one of the most important challenges to global order.