Hello from Baldimore/Bawlmer :)
It's super exciting to be a HASTAC scholar for the 2014 academic year. I've been a member of the site for over a year but it feels nice to be officially recognized and included into the fold. I'm originally from Calcutta, India and my dissertation research focuses on my native country where I am looking at a particular social/protest movement that occurred in 2011 that for the first time heavily used social media and other internet technologies to inform and influence the message. The working title of my dissertation is "Multimedia discourses of a social movement: An exploratory case study of the Indian anti-corruption movement of 2011". I defended my dissertation proposal in the summer so I am officially a candidate. Yippeeee!
I was interested in the topic of the use of social media and social networking technology in social and protest movements since 2009 when there was an online campaign for the release of a highly respected physician in India, Dr. Binayak Sen, who had been held by the Indian government on archaic sedition charges. He was held primarily because of his work with indigenous populations who refused (and continue to refuse) to allow the government and corporate interests take over their land for setting up mining factories. World events of 2010-2011, I mean the Arab Spring, and before that the Iranian and the Moldovan elections, exponentially increased my reading list as everybody seemed to be researching and writing about "Facebook revolutions" and "Twitter protests" when the reality and the complete picture is much more complicated and nuanced than that. Social media cannot and have not caused protests, people have with the help of technology and my dissertation aims to find out how.
Therefore, quoting from my dissertation proposal: The Hazare movement was able to use mass media and online social media to play a crucial role in helping social movement activists and organizers broadcast their movement’s appeals and needs. This dissertation explores the ways in which this movement was able to accomplish the successful dissemination of the movement’s ideology and goals by examining the discourses surrounding it in the various media. Specifically, I focus my examination on the discourses that occurred on Twitter, two pan-Indian English language newspapers and the testimonies of a few organizers of the movement.
I have chosen to focus on India as it is the country I understand best having lived there for the first 25 years of my life. It is also a complex country in terms of access to technology, the socio-economic structure and the various other social and political differences. It is therefore a fascinating setting for the project!
I would love to hear from all of you about all the exciting stuff that y'all are doing. Look forward.
Finally, I have attached a Call for Papers for my program's (Language, Literacy and Culture PhD program) first ever graduate student conference. It's going to be held on April 12 next year at UMBC. I'm in the CfP review committee and would love to receive proposals from other HASTAC scholars. Please do not hesitate to write to me or to the conference organizers directly in case you have questions or clarifications.