The Body As Medium in the Digital Age: Challenges and Opportunities
This essay glosses an attempt to capture communication in the Arab uprisings through the prism of the human body. Such an approach to communication and revolution entails several challenges and opportunities. Challenges include tension between biopolitical approaches and a perspective that considers the body as an instrument of practice, the tendency in scholarship that restricts discussions of the body to discussions of gender and sexuality, and not politics at large, and the glossing over of issues of social class and geographic location, all crucial when considering the body as an instrument of communication. Opportunities afforded by using the body as a focal point include a fuller consideration of human agency that eschews technological determinism when studying power and resistance, a historically grounded analytical approach that preempts an uncritical dalliance with presentism, the body being in effect the “oldest medium,” and an analytical advantage whereby the body functions as a heuristic eye of the needle through which all empirical materials, and theoretical considerations are filtered, considered and interpreted.
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