Thursday, June 18, 2009

Iran's "Twitter Revolution."


Over the past few days, I've been paying close attention to media reports of what some are calling the "Twitter Revolution" in Iran. At this point, it seems to be too soon to tell whether the ongoing protests by supporters of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi will bring political change in Iran or whether the country will endure a military crackdown like the one that flattened the "Saffron Revolution" in Myanmar. At the very least, the events in Iran remind us that new technologies have made it harder for governments to try to control their people by limiting their ability to communicate with one another and with the outside world. For an expert perspective on the Twitter Revolution and related phenomena, the online edition of the Washington Post turned to Evgeny Morozov, an Open Society Institute fellow who has been studying the impact that the Internet has had on totalitarian societies. As Morozov points out, protest movements have always used cutting-edge technologies to help their causes - but, then again, totalitarian regimes have done the same thing.

Reading about the Twitter Revolution in Iran, I can't help but think of a superb documentary that I saw in Chile entitled La ciudad de los fotógrafos ("The City of Photographers"). La ciudad de los fotógrafos tells the story of a group of photojournalists whose work captured the gritty reality of life under Pinochet, providing evidence of human rights abuses as well as depicting the day-to-day struggles of ordinary people trying to survive in the face of economic hardship and political repression. At a time when the Chilean media operated under restrictions intended to silence opponents of the regime, press photographers created a visual record of stories that otherwise wouldn't have been told. As La ciudad de los fotógrafos beautifully recounts, the efforts of a few brave photographers in Chile lent crucial momentum to the movement that ultimately restored democracy to the country; hopefully something similar will ultimately be said of Iran's Twitter Revolution, even if real change is slow in coming. In this dangerous and exciting time, I hope that you will join me in praying for the people of Iran. AMDG.

2 Comments:

At 6/23/2009 4:43 PM, Blogger Sal said...

i saw that you were going to be teaching political science @ SJU in the fall. are you teaching latin american politics?

if so i'm in your class.

sal

 
At 6/23/2009 8:36 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Sal,

Yes, I'm scheduled to teach Fall Latin American Politics in the fall. The course isn't offered very often at SJU, so there seems to be considerable interest. See you in class,

Joe K sj

 

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