Arab Data Bodies
and Archives of the Glitch
Arab Data Bodies and Archives of the Glitch is a study of the impact of social media on popular social movements in the early twenty-first century, focusing on the Middle East, and specifically, Egypt. It models and narrates historical events emerging after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq through an analysis of archived internet relay chats, digital campaigns, training manuals, technology forums, and billions of social media posts produced within an ecosystem of internet connectivity.
To analyze the media infrastructure empowering Arab digital activism broadens our understanding of the networks operating in (and behind) contemporary debates on the social media tools of counterrevolutionary bots and fake news, and upends the literature that portrays the "Arab Spring" as a Facebook revolution. A node, situated within the site of digital humanities, Arab Data Bodies and Archives of the Glitch asks how we might think of the digital humanities as a bridge/site for bringing together different ways of knowing. While it may be tempting to dismiss media such as Twitter as the product of corporate structure, we must also recognize how techies like Manal Bahey El-din Hassan and Alaa Abd Al-Fattah developed software that destabilized the corporate model and was able to disseminate revolutionary content. We gain two insights from recognizing this interaction. Any communication network can both reify and challenge dominant economies of knowledge production; but, and, also, the interrelation between infrastructure and content varies from site to site. This variation has different political effects in the Middle East as compared to in the U.S., allowing for a non-global understanding of locality that ostensibly speaks globally.
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