New Media and Political Change in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Assembling Media Worlds and Cultivating Networks of Care

in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
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Abstract

In terms of infrastructure and technology, the media environment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories developed extensively between the first and second Intifadas. Yet the media environment of the second Intifada was not necessarily more conducive to democratic change than that of the first. This paper argues that technological advances must be evaluated in their political contexts, and that the Palestinian context offers insight into what news media can do when they are not necessarily forums for an effective public sphere. For decades, Palestinians have assembled their media world out of other states' media, and a diverse collection of small and large media. This active process of assembly has itself constituted a productive field of political contestation. During the first Intifada, having no broadcast media or uncensored newspapers, Palestinians relied on small media like graffiti to evade Israeli restrictions. During the Oslo period, the Palestinian Authority (PA) established official Palestinian broadcast media, while Palestinian entrepreneurs opened broadcasting stations and Internet news sites. During the second Intifada, with Palestinian news media hampered by continued PA restrictions and intensified Israeli violence, small and new media enabled networks of care and connection, but were not widely effective tools for political organizing.

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