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Can Online Attention in the West Save Lives in Kenya? Social media as moral fix in digitally-driven human rights intervention at a distance
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4760-754X
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This presentation considers how the uncritical assumptions spread by global governance institutions about the transformative power of digital technologies (Chakravartty, 2006; Kleine, 2013; Enghel, 2015; Wildermuth & Ngomba, 2016) promote the idea that social media will save the world, thus framing the operations of Western humanitarian and human rights organizations in Africa. Starting from a qualitative examination of the contents of the World Bank's 2016 report "Digital Dividends", the OECD's 2016 Development Cooperation Report "The SDGs as Business Opportunities" and the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, I demonstrate the fit between these institutional discourses and the practices of humanitarian and human rights organizations via a case study. The Natalia Project was launched in 2013 by a Swedish non-profit to equip human rights activists in troubled countries with a digitally-driven alarm system and create a social network of interested defenders around it. Based on the triangulation of project documentation and interviews to two participating human rights activists based in Kenya, the presentation interrogates the complex links between: a) the dangerous labor of local activists in a country where human rights are subject to violation, b) the distant intervention of the non-profit with the stated goal to protect them, and c) the non-profit’s faith in the power of loose online networks to gather protective response. Because the two activists interviewed have distinct approaches to their own digital visibility, the comparison of their views on the role of social media as an avenue for engaging with international networks raises important questions regarding the possibilities and limits of Facebook and Twitter as tools for international solidarity. 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
human rights, social media, global governance, SIDA, Kenya
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142561OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-142561DiVA: diva2:1092438
Conference
Beyond the hashtag: Social Media in Africa, Edinburgh, UK, April 26-27, 2017
Available from: 2017-05-02 Created: 2017-05-02 Last updated: 2017-05-31Bibliographically approved

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  • apa
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