Associate Professor lecture – Josepha Wessels

Josepha Wessels, lecturer at K3, holds her docent lecture with the title: Embodiment, Digitality and the study of Media and Communication for Sustainable Development and Social Change.

When: Tuesday 5 October, 14:30 – 15:30 (CEST)
Where: Zoom
Register: Follow this link

Abstract

Global movements such as the Occupy movement, the Fridays for Futures climate change protests, Black Lives Matter, but also the Arab revolutions, are major global social change events occurring outside of the development industry, and surprisingly, or perhaps not, do not feature heavily in either of the two scholarly fields of Communication for Development and Social Change (CDSC) and Strategic Communication Management (SCM).

All above mentioned social change events emerged outside of the realm of the international development industry, where intergovernmental organizations, non-profits, corporate companies and philanthropic actors define post-colonial global economic power relations. This scholarly gap within the fields of CDSC and SCM creates an opportunity to fill a need to better understand how local communities proactively or reactively use their bodies and digital communication technologies in reaction to authoritarianism, structural inequality and racism, extremism, sociopolitical crises, climate change events and pandemics.

Embodiment, digitality and social change

In this lecture, I will explore embodiment, digitality and social change and describe three vignettes of digitally mediated social change events; the Syrian uprisings, the subsequent war and waves of forced migration that contributed to the global ‘refugee crisis’ and diasporic digitality, and the Sudanese revolution during the ‘second Arab spring’ of 2019.

All vignettes are examples in which, often young, change actors, guided by social technical imaginaries of a better and more sustainable future, used digital communication tools and put their bodies on the line for social change, while at the same time facing major challenges and obstacles by an increasingly polarized geopolitical and neoliberal world, whereby extremist groups and autocratic states are surveilling, suppressing and literally killing their bodies and voices-for-change.

The post-covid-19 recovery

The post-covid-19 recovery, following instantaneous rapid global digitalization and increasing ubiquity of video conferencing tools and immersive media technologies, provides another chance for the afore-mentioned two scholarly fields to engage deeper in strategic research that puts focus on how change actors take up and operationalize social technical imaginaries in collective and connective actions to ‘change the world’.

Lastly, I will give a reflection on communication and embodiment post-covid and how social technical imaginaries will continue to influence the way we communicate, in proximity and at a distance, embodied and dis-embodied, taking into account the latest developments in immersive communication technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR).

Follow this link to visit the event page and to register

Article on political violence executed in the Aleppo province during 2013

Killing the dispensables: massacres perpetrated in the villages of Eastern Aleppo Province in 2013

Author: Josepha Wessels (Malmö University)
April, 2021

British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

Abstract

In 2013, Aleppo province was engulfed in violence. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and affiliated Shi’a militias executed a campaign of massacres in the rural areas located on the eastern fringes of the province. The violence caused an exodus from this region, eventually dissipating local rural communities entirely. What can explain such extreme and brutal political violence perpetrated at a local level in the east Aleppo countryside throughout 2013? To find an answer, I analyse the personal accounts of those who witnessed the violence and YouTube videos.

Taken together, these sources provide a visceral description of the massacres—in particular the summary executions in the village of Rasm al-Nafl, as a case study of extreme violence in one of the poorest rural areas of Syria. Problematizing mono-causal sectarian explanations, I argue that a deeper non-sectarian complex of rurality and a process of subaltern othering in combination with opportunism, governmental retribution, and strategic military concern for territorial control in order to secure alternative supply routes to Aleppo, ultimately led to the eradication of life and cultural genocide in these rural areas.

Article on Palestinian refugee identities in Lebanon

Making home in exile: Everyday practices and belongings in Palestinian refugee camps

Author: Erin Cory (Malmö University)
2020

Intellect

Abstract

Palestinians share a history of exile oriented towards the loss and reclamation of a homeland, often expressed through a shared visual lexicon and mythos. In the context of refugee camps, however, local visual culture and everyday practices demonstrate how Palestinian lives are also grounded in local stories and experiences. How do Palestinian refugees deploy everyday practices to create their home spaces? What can these practices reveal about refugees’ myriad belongings? And, in thinking about these practices, what can be said about how a feeling of home can be articulated in exile, which is at its heart the forced removal/dislocation from home?

Continue reading “Article on Palestinian refugee identities in Lebanon”

Webinar Global Media Representation of the Syrian City of Raqqa: a roundtable debate

On 11 December 2020, School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University hosted a panel debate to discuss the symbolism and media representation of the Syrian city of Raqqa, in various news and media outlets, films, books and series.

Raqqa city features in many different shapes and forms, for example in books such as the Road from Raqqa and here in Sweden a TV-series called “Kalifat” is partly situated in Raqqa city as the backdrop hotbed of jihadism and ISIS. Viewers do not actually get to know the city. In other words, everybody knows Raqqa nowadays but nobody actually knows the city and its people.

The aim of this panel to give a more in-depth and nuanced insight into this Syrian city that has become well-known globally. The roundtable is conducted by a panel of Syrian writers and journalists from Raqqa as well as scholarly media experts from Sweden.

Panel members:

• Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Dissident Syrian-Arab Writer from Raqqa, also called “the conscience of the Syrian Revolution”, author of 8 books on Syria
• Mazen Hassoun, Syrian Journalist from Raqqa, founder of “Al-Raqqa post”
• Hussam Eesa, Journalist from Raqqa, founding-member of “Raqqa is being slaughteredsilently”
• Josepha Wessels, author of “Documenting Syria: Film-making, Video Activism and
Revolution” K3, Malmö University, Sweden (moderator)

Global Media Representation of the Syrian City of Raqqa

Click here to watch the recorded event.

School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University is hosting a panel debate to discuss the symbolism and media representation of the Syrian city of Raqqa, in various news and media outlets, films, books and series. Raqqa city features in many different shapes and forms, for example in books such as the Road from Raqqa and here in Sweden a TV-series called “Kalifat” is partly situated in Raqqa city as the backdrop hotbed of jihadism and ISIS. Viewers do not actually get to know the city. In other words, everybody knows Raqqa nowadays, but nobody actually knows the city and its people. In order to reflect deeper on its media representation and the role of Raqqa, the roundtable discusses the following questions:

  • Why has Raqqa, a northern Syrian town, suddenly become world famous?
  • How is the city of Raqqa represented in the various global media and ISIS media outlets ?
  • Why was the city’s role in Islamic State media portrayed as the de-facto capital of the proclaimed Islamic State ?
  • What is Raqqa’s history, character, who are the Raqqans and what role did the city play in the Syrian uprisings?
  • What is the current situation of Raqqa in this post-ISIS period ?

The aim of this panel to give a more in-depth and nuanced insight into this Syrian city that has become well-known globally. The roundtable is conducted by a panel of Syrian writers and journalists from Raqqa as well as scholarly media experts from Sweden.

Panel members:

  • Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Syrian Writer from Raqqa, author of 8 books on Syria
  • Mazen Hassoun, Syrian Journalist from Raqqa, founder of “Al-Raqqa post”
  • Hussam Eesa, Journalist from Raqqa, founding-member of “Raqqa is being slaughtered silently”.
  • Michael Krona, author of “The Media World of ISIS”, K3, Malmö University, Sweden
  • Josepha Wessels, author of “Documenting Syria: Film-making, Video Activism and Revolution” K3, Malmö University, Sweden (moderator)