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Accepted Paper:

Remediating ‘others’: how digital media shape local/global knowledge regimes between Iran and ‘the West’  
Shireen Walton (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on digital-ethnographic research in Iran, the UK and online, this paper examines the visual role of digital media in forming a new epistemology of ‘others’. It considers this premise in relation to established and emerging knowledge regimes between Iran and ‘the West’.

Paper long abstract:

Official custodians of civil knowledge stake heavy claims on notions of selves and others. Such ‘truths’ wave their logic from the fabrics of (geo-)political agendas, national narratives and self-referential imaginaries. With the emergence of mobile digital technology and social media, another kind of dialogue has emerged over the past decade. Individuals and groups are actively negotiating (dominant perceptions of) their identity via digital and visual practices of self-representation in local and international arenas. A salient example of this intersection of established and emerging epistemologies can be seen in the media-political interplay of relations between Iran and the West in recent years. In this paper, I discuss how individuals and groups inside and outside of Iran since the early 2000s have been drawing on digital media to posit alternative discourses of ‘truth’ about Iran online, predominantly through images. At the same time, governments have also taken to social media to intervene in ‘soft politics’ and international cultural diplomacy ‘from above’. In the wake of a political rapprochement between Iran and ‘the West’, how can we assess the impact of a steadily growing civil-visual discourse (Azoulay 2012), whereby collective transnational mediation emerges as an alternative knowledge regime ‘from below’? Based on digital-ethnographic research undertaken in Iran, the UK and online, I discuss the impact and localization of international knowledge regimes by highlighting the role of digital technologies in forming new epistemologies of ‘others’. These everyday mediations, I contend, operate within a ‘third space’ of soft political negotiation, on- and offline.

Panel P055
Impact and localization of international knowledge regimes
  Session 1