DIGITAL HUMANITIES AND THE 15M MOVEMENT
I came to this course with the vague idea of learning more about Digital Humanities and using that knowledge to interpret and problematize the 15M or Indignados movement. I was motivated by the intention to have a digital component in my dissertation in which I could make use of some form of DH to contribute to what I will be researching in parallel to more conventional approaches.
Throughout the different sessions, I have been inspired by the manifold branches of the DH and their possibilities for interpreting and problematizing the cultural, political and social aspects of our societies. In particular, my ideas have been strongly influenced by the insights from scholars who warn about the perils of reproducing the system of inequalities in the digital realm and turn their eyes to a more democratic, more horizontal, and freer use of the DH.
A hypothetic final paper for this class would draw from Social Movements Studies alongside the critiques of DH that are coming from Race, Gender and Class analyses, Critical Theory, and Postcolonial Studies.
When I first started to conceptualize this paper, I tried to find ways in which I could use digital tools to examine the online traces of the Indignados movement: their twitter accounts, their blogs, their websites or the YouTube channels. In doing that I had to conceive the Indignados movement as a digital one.
This task proved unsatisfactory because I was not using the right approach. After reading authors like Safiya Noble, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Johanna Drucker, and so forth, I have become aware of the necessity of treating 15M’s digital manifestations as different ways of producing knowledge. Rather than seeing them as raw material for scholar interpretation, these digital artifacts are themselves engaged in the work of analysis. This stance would diverge from any false pretention of a scientific unbiased analysis and consequently would entail a move forward in the sheer interpretative use of DH.
Some of the articles that I am including in this bibliography deal directly with the digital production of 15M. Other sources take a more general perspective and would be useful to delineate the theoretical framework in which I will inscribe the analyses of the specific examples of my case study.
Castells, Manuel. Networks of outrage and hope: Social movements in the Internet age. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.
Castells was one of the first scholars who established connections between the 2011 uprisings in different parts of the world through their use of digital media. He provides insightful examples from which to lay out an analysis of the digital production of 15M’s participants in relation to the international context. His use of the rhizome metaphor points to a different conception of these networks, bringing about their alternative and counterhegemonic potential thanks to their ideas of participatory democracy, but above all their use of imaginative and unprecedented practices.
Barreiro, Belén. La sociedad que seremos: digitales, analógicos, acomodados y empobrecidos. Planeta, 2017.
This book proposes a digital division of Spanish society (analogs vs. digitals) in relation to a socioeconomic division created by the crisis (well-off vs. impoverished). Its author, the former director of the Sociologic Research Center, depicts a new distribution of the society affected by the crisis and shaped by the new political subjectivity that stemmed from the 15M.
I would use Barreiro’s ideas to buttress the argument that the 15M was (and continues to be) a digital movement based on the demographic conditions of its participants. In the same way that the author applies her hypothesis to the electoral outputs and the new parties’ supporters, I would look for continuities between what was digitally produced by the movement and the new platforms put in place by the new political actors who define themselves as heir of the Indignados’ spirit.
de Ramón Carrión, Manuel. “Las redes sociales 2.0 como fuentes informativas en las revoluciones y movimientos populares de 2011:(Túnez, Egipto y 15-m). Resultados de la encuesta a periodistas españoles.” TecCom Studies: Estudios de Tecnología y Comunicación 4 (2012): 367-375.
This article gives account of the use of social media in the Occupy movements of Tunisia, Egypt and Spain. His tone is more informative than analytic, but the fact that the author reproduces first hand testimonies from Spanish journalists would provide me with a privileged access to primary sources.
de Soto, Pablo. “Los mapas del #15M: el arte de la cartografía de la multitud conectada.” 15MP2P. Una mirada transdisciplinar del 15M (2014): 363-387.
De Soto compares different maps created by the 15M to contextualize the dimension and outspread of the movement, to locate services, or more importantly, to trace networks of production of knowledge, such as wikis and databases. He interprets the technopolitical dimension of 15M as an open source revolution in which knowledges, techniques, practices, and strategies are collectively learnt, replicated and enhanced by a connected multitude. Cartography is framed by de Soto within the logic of the production of the commons. In his view, maps generate processes of subjetivation through the depiction of alternative worlds.
This “art of cartography by a connected multitude,” as the author names it, would be considered in my paper as one of the main branches of the 15M production of knowledge within the realm of DH.
Fuster Morell, Mayo. “From digital commons to society commons: Influence of the free culture movement in the 15M mobilization.” Crisis and Social Mobilization in Contemporary Spain: The 15M Movement. Routledge (2017): 54-72.
This article suggests a process of continuity between participatory democracy in the squares and participation and deliberation in digital forums and platforms. That is an important gesture toward the consideration of 15M as a digital movement. Unlike many scholars who see digital activism as a precedent of the 2011 protests and mobilizations, Fuster understands it in fruitful dialogue with the non-virtual practices. The text goes beyond the period of 15M to include the subsequent iterations of the Indignados spirit, such as the housing movement, the ties in defense of public health and education, and the coalitions of parties and social movements which won the municipal elections of 2014.
Jenkins, Henry, et al. Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Mit Press, 2009.
Jenkins et al. define participatory culture as relationships “with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, with strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others, with some type of informal mentorship (…), where members believe that their contributions matter, and where members feel some degree of social connection with one another.” This framework is useful to consider the 15M mobilizations, their political impact, and their digital productions as forms of culture that challenge institutions.
Liu, Alan. “Where is cultural criticism in the digital humanities?” Debates in the digital humanities (2012): 490-509.
Liu claims that in order to be a full partner of the mainstream humanities, DH has to engage with cultural criticism. Digital spaces democratize the ideas of expert and scholar being at the vanguard of the production of knowledge. From that position a unique opportunity for leadership in the humanities arises. Digital Humanities has the potential to scale into thinking critically about power relations, finances and other governance protocols.
Liu’s ideas are inspiring in terms of assuring the role of DH in the production of knowledge and in dialogue with contemporary processes of political innovation and social transformation.
Losh, Elizabeth. “Hacktivism and the humanities: Programming protest in the era of the digital university.” Debates in the digital humanities (2012): 161-186.
Losh’s article is a recollection of several practices of hacktivism hosted by or related to university campuses. These practices are rooted in the tradition of university activism, but also part of a “new vanguard of networked digital culture in which protests in the temporary autonomous zones of computational media are rhizomatic, sporadic, and even ironic in the rhetorical stances that they adopt.” The author sees a relationship between “the old guard of political organizers and a new cadre of programmers” in the way they use dissensus.
As Losh says, the use of hacktivism theory offers an alluring critical approach to broaden the understanding of digital tools and to engage with a more critical dimension of Digital Humanities.
Peña-López, Ismael, Mariluz Congosto, and Pablo Aragón. “Spanish Indignados and the evolution of the 15M movement on Twitter: towards networked para-institutions.” Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies 15.1-2 (2014): 189-216.
The authors define the movement in terms of network citizen politics characterized by decentralization, swarm-like actions and intensive used of information and communication technologies. They compare and contrast the use of Twitter by 15M activist and new political actors within formal democratic institutions. According to the authors, both seem to have a similar use of Politics 2.0, but with very different purposes and dissimilar vocabulary. The fact that there is no inter-institutional dialogue points to the fundamental break with the institutions that the 15M entailed; and thereby, to the necessity of considering Indignados’ uses of social media an alternative, counterhegemonic methods of creation of meaning.
Rice, Jeff. “Occupying the digital humanities.” College English 75.4 (2013): 360-378.
The author focuses on a photograph of the Occupy movement to draw attention to the way knowledge is created in the digital humanities. He posits suggestion, what the photograph is doing, as a method of activating a network of forces in digital environments which would generate their own suggestions (memes, video commentaries, blog or Facebook posts, etc.) from the original source. Suggestion, insofar as it re-mythologizes interpretation, offers an alternative digital humanities approach aligned with the counterhegemonic practices of the Occupy movements. Inspired by the possibilities of DH, Rice encourages humanities to move beyond hermeneutics to consider other approaches relevant to the production of meaning.
I would translate Rice analysis to the context of the Spanish uprising and the diverse materials that could fit this transformative notion of suggestion as” a process of re-mythologizing, not a settling on a reading or understanding.”