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Event Detail

Not Talking about a Revolution: The Internet in Post-Soviet Authoritarian States
Date: October 11, 2012 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm EDT
Location: Columbia University,
Morningside Campus,
Faculty House,
Garden Room 1
Contact: For further information regarding this event, please contact Dana Leigh Geraghty by sending email to .

Please join the Harriman Institute for a panel discussion with Sarah Kendzior, Washington University in Saint Louis, and Katy E. Pearce, University of Washington, with discussant Jack Snyder, Columbia University, and Sarah Cook, Freedom House. The 2011 uprisings in the Middle East have prompted speculation as to whether digital technology can and will be used to foment similar uprisings in former Soviet authoritarian states. We argue that while the internet remains a critical tool for political expression in the region, its utility for activism is challenged by threats from the government, fear and political apathy among citizens, and social impediments to internet adoption, particularly along gender lines. In this presentation, we will discuss the latest data on who is using the internet in the region and for what purposes, and give case studies from Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Sarah Kendzior is an anthropologist who studies digital media and politics in authoritarian states, with a focus on the former Soviet Union. She has a PhD in anthropology from Washington University in Saint Louis and an MA in Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University. Her research has been published in many academic journals, including American Ethnologist, Central Asian Survey, Nationalities Papers and the Journal of Communication. She is a frequent contributor to Al Jazeera, the Atlantic, and other media outlets. She is currently an instructor at Washington University, where she teaches a course called “The Internet, Politics and Society.” Katy E. Pearce is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington and holds an affiliation with the Ellison Center for Russian East European, and Central Asian Studies. She specializes in technology and media use in the Former Soviet Union. Her research focuses on social and political uses of technologies and digital content in the transitioning democracies and semi-authoritarian states of the South Caucasus and Central Asia, but primarily Armenia. She has a BA (2001) in Armenian Studies and Soviet Studies from the University of Michigan, an MA (2006) in International Studies from the University of London School for Oriental and African Studies, and a PhD in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was a Fulbright scholar (Armenia 2007-2008). Sarah Cook is a senior research analyst for Freedom on the Net and East Asia at Freedom House. She serves as Assistant Editor for the Freedom on the Net project, an index that tracks internet freedom around the world and is part of the editorial team producing the China Media Bulletin, a weekly news digest of media freedom developments related to the People's Republic of China. Ms. Cook is regularly interviewed by the press regarding human rights, media, and internet freedom developments in China, Taiwan, other parts of East Asia, as well as internet freedom more broadly. She is the author of several articles and numerous country reports examining media freedom and democratic governance. Her comments and writings have appeared on CNN, The International Herald Tribune, the Taipei Times, and the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Before joining Freedom House, she co-edited the English translation of A China More Just, a memoir by prominent rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, and was twice a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva for an NGO working on religious freedom in China. She received a B.A. in International Relations from Pomona College and as a Marshall Scholar, completed Masters degrees in Politics and International Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Jack Snyder (Ph.D., Columbia, 1981) is the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science and the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia. His books include Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War, co-authored with Edward D. Mansfield; From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict; Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and International Ambition; The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914; and Religion and International Relations Theory, editor. Sponsored by the Harriman Institute, Columbia University