Cartographies of Digital Dissidence


Networked social movements play a critical role in resisting political intimidation. Two such mobilizations that coincided in June 2013, Turkey’s Gezi Resistance and Brazil’s Vinegar Uprising, illustrate the tactical and strategic utilization of the internet. Tellingly, Internet laws were amended in the aftermath of both events. While Turkey’s law took the direction toward an authoritarian digital geography for its citizen-users, Brazil’s Marco Civil da Internet, a law crowdsourced to stakeholders of the local network, was seen as an ideal legal text. Following the country-wide movements, however, both laws resulted in high-securitization of the cyberspace.

In the former draconian amendments to internet regulation and a sophisticated technological arsenal, and in the latter a hyper-commercialization of the digital space ultimately strengthened the regime’s central control over the internet. In my talk, I discuss a digital archive that I created to navigate the infrastructural making of the Internet, in global as well as local contexts. Organized on Graph Commons, the archive introduces a topology of criteria for the critical infrastructures of digital dissidence historically. Though the internet has been celebrated as a democratic architecture of information governed by universal protocols, this presentation sheds light on what kind of multi-modal resistance can be imagined in its absence. Lost in the popular discourse of the Internet providing a self-governing platform for social communication, have we missed the opportunity to imagine a future? Are we faced with the prospect of further balkanization of the Net that instead produces a future that promises not a free and open milieu but the very opposite?