Members of CIRS traveled to the International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Convention in Toronto, Canada, on March 26-29, 2014. The title of the conference was “Spaces and Places: Geopolitics in an Era of Globalization.” CIRS held an exhibition booth where CIRS staff distributed publications and networked with conference participants and scholars.
– Mehran Kamrava, Director of CIRS, chaired three panels focusing on “Understanding Iran’s Nuclear Program,” “The International Relations of Iran: Geopolitics, Geoculture, and Geoeconomics,” and “International Security Implications of the Arab Spring.”
– Suzi Mirgani, Manager and Editor of Publications at CIRS, presented a paper titled “Globalized Uprisings and Mediated Resistance: Digital Space and Unofficial Cultural Production.” The paper explores how cultural production through mediated communication has developed along two incommensurable trends – the government and corporate-backed trajectory of digital communication technologies as vehicles for authorized and privatized economic and military development versus the communal and creative expansion of communication associated with the freedom of information and expression. This bifurcation is most visible at the discursive level and the split in the ethos of believing in the concept of intellectual property or, alternatively, the concept of collaborative cultural creation. These two trends – official and unofficial cultural production – have flourished alongside each other, yet always causing friction over issues related to national security, freedom of expression, and copyright. Currently, civil society organizations all over the world, whether in authoritarian or democratic nations, are offering real and effective resistance to increasing government and corporate enclosure of the cultural commons and freedom of expression. This is being achieved through different forms of mediated resistance – from social media sites to an abundance of documentaries and films, whether in relation to the Arab uprisings or an increasingly globalized confrontation with official narratives.