Drawing on the experience of three Indonesian online communities, this paper argues that civic engagement organized by online communities is not simply an outcome of compassion or social solidarity but also a mitigating circumstance of community building. The durability of organizing civic engagement, therefore, relies on the transformation of online communities and members’ capacity for community management—that is, how the community could upscale its form and activities. Failing in upscaling the community can lead to community abandonment. Community upscaling relies on the success of institutionalizing civic engagement activities, community adaptation to new chat platforms, conserving interpersonal communication within the same online location, and generating new community trajectories.
This article introduces the special issue on ‘Digital Activism’ by exploring some of the trends in social media activism and scholarship thereof. The authors ask to what extent this literature helps us understand Asian forms of online activism, which forms of activism have relatively done well, and whether Asian activism requires its own theorizing. Most of all, it is a plea for a careful and ethnographically informed approach to digital activism. Although outwardly they look similar and use the same templates, manuals, or even similar media strategies, not all forms of online activism promote democratic values. Furthermore, we argue that much of what happens under the banner of digital activism is not necessarily politics with a capital P but, rather, consists of everyday forms of engagement, with sometimes seemingly vulgar contents and often familiar routines and natural forms, yet in their impact such ‘banal activism’ may have political implications.
This paper demonstrates how protest tactics, such as the use of hashtags, can be co-opted by counter-protesters, as evidenced by how the cybertroopers operated against the Bersih 4 protest in 2015. This is achieved via focusing the analysis on how geographic places were communicated on Twitter around the time of the protest. The Bersih movement in Malaysia is an example of how a digital-savvy social movement organisation (SMO) operates in a hybrid regime. In this paper, I explore a form of reaction that, on the surface, appeared to be a bottom-up initiative against the Bersih movement. Based on the fieldwork conducted around the Bersih 4 protest in 2015, I focus on place mentions on Twitter to detect the cybertroopers who attempted to disrupt the discussion and narrative through the use of hashtags.
This article reconsiders contemporary digital activism in an increasingly pious Indonesia and responds to Eva F. Nisa’s 2018 paper on young Muslim women as daʾwa (proselytization) activists published in this journal. This paper asks: How have today’s socially mediated publics in Indonesia influenced the figure of the daʾwa activist? How are these daʾwa activists different from those in the past? I argue that the daʾwa activists are the products of a Muslimah intimate public, part of a networked public within which young women discuss, engage with, and express how they ‘feel’ about issues that interest them, and celebrate self-improvement and self-enterprise, combined with religious self-cultivation. Within this public daʾwa activists have two key characteristics. First, market logics and commercial interests are fundamental to their daʾwa. Second, the daʾwa accounts frame controversial and political issues through specific visual ethics that engender a sense of intimacy with their followers.
Exploring, among other things, Lu Xun’s configuration of his characters’ relationships to then-dominant ideological discourses, this chapter teases out heretofore seldom observed or altogether unremarked upon vital features of his canonical works. The chapter is grounded in the conviction that an attunement to the insights internal to a text can expand our understanding of a literary work, its intellectual-historical context, and its author. It affirms the relevance of the concept of aesthetic cognition and the value of a hermeneutics of engagement in the study of modern Chinese literature.
This chapter revisits an important and long-standing debate on whether “Renaissance” or “Enlightenment” is a more appropriate or accurate term to describe the May Fourth Movement. The author of this chapter proposes a renewed interest in using “Renaissance” as a conceptual category to evaluate the May Fourth new culture movement since it has the merits of placing this Chinese cultural movement in a transnational context. Through an appropriation of Franco Moretti’s concept of “distant reading,” the author highlights the parallel relations between May Fourth China and other cultures at their respective historical junctures in order to emphasize the multiple and transnational practices of Renaissance. This chapter thus demonstrates how the framework of world literary studies can help us reshape and refresh our understanding of the May Fourth new culture movement within a global and cross-cultural context.
This chapter proposes to re-examine the concept of “vernacular” in the May Fourth context. It argues that the Chinese term for the vernacular, baihua, was not a self-evident concept in the May Fourth context, since its meanings were still being contested in the May Fourth period. By tracing the connotations of the term from the late Ming to Qing and early Republican periods, this chapter shows that what we take as baihua nowadays is actually modern invention. This chapter particularly investigates the transformation of the concept of baihua in the May Fourth context by using Hu Shi’s writings as a primary example. The author suggests that concept of baihua in the May Fourth period was not just considered a new instrument or medium of writing, but more as a kind of quality, property, and potentiality that can be used to evaluate or predict the health or life span of any living language.