Conference "Media and the Politics of Transformation in the Arab World and Asia"

10./11.12.2015, Berlin

In times of increasing mediatization and digitalization, indisputably media play an important role when it comes to political and societal transformation processes. But how exactly can we analyze the relationship between transformation and media (and also media in transformation) to contribute to both the fields of political science and communication studies? Which theoretical concepts, methodological approaches and empirical fields can be chosen and how can they “cross-fertilize” each other?

In the scope of this conference, we seek to establish a comprehensive interdisciplinary dialogue among senior and junior researchers, acknowledging that despite several efforts theories and research practices in these two disciplines continue to co-exist rather than intersect. 

The seminal uprisings in the MENA region in 2010/2011 have revitalized both research fields by bringing many-to-many media and mobilization processes into the focus. Choosing a country-based approach our conference seeks to inquire on how these processes evolve in the context of (formally) restricted media systems and state dominated public spheres. In order to allow for case-centered analysis as well as transnational comparisons these countries range from the MENA region and their respective transformation processes to the Far East.

This conference is organized as a joint event of the division “International Communication” (Prof. Dr. Carola Richter) and the “Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies” (Prof. Dr. Cilja Harders) and funded by the Faculty for Political and Social Sciences at Freie Universität Berlin

The workshop booklet including program and abstracts can be downloaded here.

You can read a review of the conference here (in German).


Thursday, 10th of December 2015
Venue: Hörsaal A, Otto-Suhr-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin, Ihnestr. 21, 14195 Berlin


Public Keynote: Sticks and Stones, Clicks and Phones: Contextualizing the Role of Digital Media in the Politics of Transformation

Merlyna Lim, Carleton University, Canada


Public Panel Discussion: When Theory Meets Ground

Moderator: Carola Richter, Free University, Berlin

Jamal Ghosn
, former Managing Editor of Al-Akhbar English and Blogger, Beirut

Kaustubh Srikanth, Head of Technology at Tactical Technology Collective, Berlin

Afef Abrouigi, Researcher on digital rights and global voices contributor, Tunis

Khaled Yacoub Oweis, visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, SWP Berlin and Journalist

 Friday, 11th of December 2015
Venue: Senate Assembly Hall, Henry Ford Building, Freie Universität Berlin, Garystr. 35, 14195 Berlin

Admission: if you wish to take part on Friday, please register until December 5th at



Cilja Harders, Free University, Berlin
Carola Richter, Free Universit, Berlin


Panel 1: Digital Media and Women's Activism

  1. Anna Antonakis-Nashif: “In Transition: Renegotiating Publics and Gender in Tunisia."
  2. Mina Naeli: “Exploring Impacts of Internet Communication on Social Activism in Iran: The Case of Women’s Rights Activists”

Comments: Deva Woodly, The New School, USA


Panel 2: Digital Media and Activism

  1. Almut Woller: “Visible – connected – united? Digital media and anarchist discourses in Arab countries”
  2. Abir Kopty: “The Impact of Social Media and Online Communications on Palestinian Political activism”

Comments: Donatella della Ratta, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


Panel 3: Transforming Media in Times of Transition

  1. Nadia Leihs: "The Egyptian Media in Transition: Reform Movements, Resistances and Other Obstacles"
  2. Burcu Yaman: "Transformation of Conservative Broadcasting in Turkey"

Comments: Eid Mohamed, Doha Institute for Graduate studies, Qatar


Panel 4: Media operating within authoritarian structures

  1. Zhu Yi: "Institution-building of the online public sphere in an authoritarian society - the new actors in China"
  2. Naveed Iqbal: "Media during democratization in Pakistan: The Case of General Elections 2002 and 2008"

Comments: Natalie Fenton, Goldsmith University, UK



Carola Richter, Free University, Berlin
Cilja Harders, Free University, Berlin
Martin Schiller, Free University, Berlin