State Violence and Civilian Resistance in Social Media in Post-Revolutionary Iran and the Contemporary U.S.

By: Shabnam Piryaei  

This paper primarily considers by what means contemporary social media is employed to enforce and to subvert state violence. I take a comparative approach, drawing correlations between social media use in post-Revolutionary Iran and in the contemporary U.S. At these two unexpectedly linked regions of activity, I focus on points of convergence and divergence in the modes through which media influences the way we exchange information, offer representations, mediate protest, and enforce, chronicle and resist state violence. I use an interdisciplinary approach to investigate how people are tracked and surveilled through social media, and how these tools that are utilized for tracking and surveillance are also mobilized for critical interventions in, and collaborations against, policing and state violence. Regarding Iran, I consider Negar Mottahedeh’s reading of Iran’s systematic technological repression, and the role of censorship in Iranian media, which leads citizens to develop new and less direct routes of transmitting news, images and videos—especially of protests and state violence against protestors. In the U.S., I explore the means by which social media operates as a form of propaganda and state-run media and how this intersects with the propaganda and corresponding violence in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I also reflect on how media activism can co-opt, or creatively and indirectly intervene in existing power structures.

Violence, Activism, Politics
Media Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Shabnam Piryaei

Assistant Professor, Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, San Francisco State University, United States
-, United States