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GUST Hosts Seminar about Online Activism in the Middle East

12 November 2018

Gulf University for Science and Technology’s (GUST) Global Studies Center (GSC) hosted a lecture led by Dr. Jon Nordenson for students and the general public, entitled “Online Activism in Egypt and Kuwait”.  The lecture, organized in coordination with the University of Oslo, took place on its Mishref campus and focused on research done in the wake of the Arab uprisings of 2011.


The lecture was delivered by Dr. Nordenson, a postdoc-fellow at the University of Oslo and an Affiliated Scholar at the Climate Change and Environment Program at the American University of Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute. His research focuses on public discourse, activism and democratization in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.


Dr. Nordenson focused on a number of questions about the relationships between political activism and new forms of media.  Namely, on whether the internet facilitates social and political change, or even democratization, in the Middle East, and if so, how? The seminar also explored research findings about the use of online platforms by activists to effect change in two Middle Eastern countries: Egypt and Kuwait. Among the issues addressed was how and why activists use online platforms, what benefits they gain, and which crucial features engender or hinder their success. The main benefits of these platforms may be the ability, for otherwise excluded groups, to organize, articulate their demands, and mobilize with their national publics.


Head of the Global Studies Center at GUST, Dr. Fahed Al-Sumait, said, “It is important that the events of 2011 are examined with hindsight, taking into consideration the various elements that allowed them to grow to the magnitude that they did.  Although Kuwait and Egypt are vastly different, it was interesting to see the parallels between the two countries, and the outcomes that we can all learn from this type of research.”


The GSC, which hosts regular seminars and discussions on a variety of subjects throughout the year, was founded in 2015 in partnership with the National University of Singapore. It aims to conduct cutting-edge research on cross-national political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental issues of critical importance, as well as share research output and information regionally and globally. 


Previous events hosted by the GSC include a discussion to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, sponsored by the US Embassy in Kuwait, a lecture by Dr. Peter Sluglett, an expert on Middle Eastern history and Director of the Middle East Institute at NUS, entitled: “An Improvement on Colonialism? The ‘A’ Mandates and their Legacy in the Middle East”, and another by Dr. Daniel Brumberg, the Kuwait Program Visiting Professor at the Paris School of International Affairs, on US-Arab Relations in a Time of Crisis. Most recently, Princeton scholar Daniel Tavana spoke about the relationships between Lebanese university student elections and the larger political climates which they feed into.  


Further information on upcoming events can be found on https://gsc.gust.edu.kw