Everyday resilience: How has the journey of internet usage among Palestinians in the West Bank affected and reflected their political subjectivity?
Palestinians live in a conflict zone where they experience isolation, lack of freedom and political repression. In this context, Palestinians are increasingly utilising digital spaces to facilitate interaction within and beyond Palestine. This project examines how this journey of engagement in and dependence on digital spaces by Palestinians has affected and reflected their political subjectivity. An in-depth analysis of their involvement in this daily internet usage, allows for a deeper understanding of how Palestinians re-arrange their social order as a result of this integration of internet usage in their everyday lives in the context of entrenched and seemingly intractable conflict. It illuminates how internet usage has been negotiated and incorporated in the long-standing Palestinian struggle. Since the beginning of Palestinians’ internet usage in the mid-1990s, the digital spaces have challenged their spatial and temporal exclusion and opened them to the world. At the same time, this journey of internet usage has mirrored and shaped their subjectivities since it emphasised their understanding of their position and it gave them a tool to transcend their confinement. Digital spaces have been utilised to bypass their exclusion and build a transnational space of ‘Palestine Online’ according to Miriyam Aouragh (2012). Since the end of the 2000s, internet usage has been integrated as a daily practice as a result of a combination of technological advancements and political factors, such as the Arab Spring, in which digital tactics of contention have been applied. The emergence of social media has facilitated inter-personal connections and provided ordinary people with a tool of protest, resistance and reflexivity. The everydayness of digitisation enables Palestinians to be in dialogue with their identities and subjectivities. In the recent past, amidst the chaos of the Arab Spring and the tightening of political and social digital surveillance, the political subjectivity of Palestinians has been challenged once again. A new cybercrime law was enacted in 2017, enabling Palestinian security systems to spy on the social media accounts of Palestinians and bring charges against them on the basis of their digital utterances. The digital spaces have been confiscated from them. They are aware of the digital surveillance that limits their internet usage. This has not prevented them from continuing to use the internet, although they do not use it to express themselves as they did when social media first emerged. To use the internet nowadays, they need to bargain and manoeuvre the gatekeeping powers in digital spaces. Internet usage by Palestinians demonstrates their everyday resilience. This study documents Palestinians’ journey of internet usage and analyses their understanding of their digital practice and experience and the implications thereof for their political subjectivities. Data for the study was generated by means of a qualitative approach that relied on semi-structured, in-depth interviews with activists, journalists, students, and university academics.
Advisor: Dawson , Marcelle; Harris , William
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Palestinians; The West Bank; The internet; The journey of internet usage; The Arab Spring; Digital identity; Protest; Political subjectivity; Conflict; Transnationalism
Research Type: Thesis