Publics and their boundaries play a central role in discussions surrounding digital communication, freedom of expression, and the future of democracy. In the context of the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, publics have been thrust into the spotlight, particularly as they relate to fake news, filter bubbles, and manipulated flows of information.
However, the tension between the expansion and the fragmentation of publics is seldom explicitly examined from a global perspective, even though the topic of the boundaries and limits of publics is increasingly relevant to power and geopolitics. Furthermore, there are fundamental social questions as to who is and can be part of publics. Who can participate? And who remains an outsider?
The project builds on the research results of the Emmy Noether group Reaching the People: Communication and Global Orders in the Twentieth Century (FU Berlin, 2017–2022) and relates these results to current topics and conflicts.
23 June 2023: Discussion - Berlin
Despite the expansion of new communication technologies, we have entered a dark age of public debates: AI-generated fake news, filter bubbles, and controlled information endanger democracies and shore up authoritarian governments. Consequently, the ideal of a public sphere where calm, rational arguments are exchanged is more remote than ever. Accessibility and inclusion are still largely out of reach. Instead, we witness increasing fragmentation and polarization. This has so far, however, been mostly explored in isolated national contexts, and not as a truly global phenomenon. On this evening in Berlin, we will transcend boundaries and borders to take a closer look at the Arab Middle East, Iran, and South Asia. Who is and can be part of publics in these regions? Who gets to participate? And which voices are excluded?
Our guests Amro Ali (Sociologist, Casablanca), Shenila Khoja-Moolji (Critical Muslim and Gender Studies, Washington, DC) and Ghazal Abdollahi (Artist and Activist, Berlin) will debate the challenges and threats to publics at our current moment, focusing on public protests and questions of gender. The discussion is hosted by Valeska Huber (Global History, Vienna) and Simon Wolfgang Fuchs (Islamic Studies, Freiburg).
The event will build on the research results of the Emmy Noether group Reaching the People: Communication and Global Orders in the Twentieth Century (FU Berlin, 2017–2022) and relate these results to current topics and conflicts.
The discussion will be followed by a reception from around 8:30 pm. The event will be in English.
Valeska Huber and Simon Wolfgang Fuchs host this event with the focus on the Middle East and South Asia. Topics will be protest movements and public spheres, e.g. in the context of the Arab Spring or in Iran.
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Event access: Public
Humboldt Graduate School Festsaal (2. OG) Luisenstraße 56 10117 Berlin
19:00 — 20:30