The turbulent Arab Spring, blustering across the Middle East between the years 2011 and 2012, has inspired various sorts of new insurgent oppositional movements around the world. Azerbaijan’s online opposition, enthused by the initial success of revolutions in North Africa and organized almost exclusively on social networking sites, was not an exception within this scope. As the socio-political transformation of primarily Muslim geographies of the region was gaining pace, it was not long before that Azerbaijani activists, impressed by the possibilities purportedly brought about by social media’s online networking affordances, started to organize their resistance mainly on mediated social networks.
The response of the Azerbaijani government to the events, where hundreds of activists took to the streets of Baku to protest against corruption and demand respect for human rights was very harsh. State officials immediately halted all demonstration authorizations, and police officers quickly, and quite often violently, dispersed unauthorized ones. Thus, with all the demonstrations forcefully dismantled, and a number of protesters taken into custody or arrested, the Azerbaijani government was able to completely liquidate these protests in a short period of time,.
The reproduction of the state rule was achieved through a series of digital interventions into the Azerbaijani Internet and mobile telecom infrastructures, with close collaboration of and intensive help received from a range of global companies specializing in various surveillance hardware, software and service provision.
Focusing on the case of Azerbaijan, this presentation details and discusses interlinked aspects of increased mediatization of activism on the one hand, and state backlash on the other – thus aiming to contribute to an empirically based, nuanced conception of the shortcomings of mediatized activism today.
Frankfurt, GERMANY, 2017.
The Formation of Normative Orders International Conference: “International Dissidence: Rule and Resistance in a Globalized World”. Goethe University Frankfurt Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Frankfurt, GERMANY, 2-4 March 2017.