The Role of Social Media in Sparking the Arab Spring:
Focus on Egypt’s Experience presented by Kathleen Sutherland
Wednesday, November 13 at 6:30 pm
“I am going down on January 25th and will say no to corruption, no to this regime…I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square, and I will stand alone. And I’ll hold up a banner. Perhaps people will show some honor.” With this call posted on video, a young Egyptian woman helped spark a remarkable mass uprising, cutting across classes and sectors of the society, against a 30 year old regime in early 2011. This call illustrated the power of modern technology, in this case social media, to activate a popular uprising against a regime. Sutherland will be discussing the various forms of media that were used to promote political action on the streets against authoritarian regimes across the Middle East. The protests succeeded in effecting regime change in some cases, but resulted in further repression in other cases. Regimes’ use of social media in their reactions to the popular uprisings also reflects the new power of modern technology and the varied users’ skill in employing it.
Kathleen Howard Sutherland is Associate Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Women’s Studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio (BGSU) specializing in Middle East Studies. She was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, and spent over 35 years in Egypt in different eras. She received her PhD in Middle East Studies and Political Science from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. She taught at the American University in Cairo, the city of her birth and long time residence, before going to BGSU. Kathleen’s publications focus on the role of women in public life in Egypt and Morocco, the latter of which was supported by a Fulbright Fellowship in Morocco, and visited Iraq in 1985 as a guest of the Iraqi Federation of Women as part of the U.S. delegation to the Iraqi Federation’s Conference on Women. Kathleen interviewed Afghan women refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan in l985. She joined the OLLI faculty in 2005 and has taught courses on the Middle East, Islam, women revolutionaries in the Middle East, refugees and sub Saharan Africa. She was President of the World Affairs Council of Maine from 2016 to 2019 and continues serving on its Board of Directors. Kathleen and her husband, John Sutherland, also on the OLLI faculty, live in Portland, ME.