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Syrian Conflict Presentation

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Laura Buckham

on 6 March 2014

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Transcript of Syrian Conflict Presentation

de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life (1984) Translated by Steven Rendall.
Syria Conflict
Islam In Syria
The World conflict we have chosen to discuss is the on going civil war in Syria.
The conflict has now become so layered and complex, that we feel we can effectively apply some of De Certeau's theories and ideas.
The media coverage of the conflict is so vast, but what do we actually know about it?
We will be looking at how open and social media is having an impact on how we view and how we draw opinions on the conflict.
De Certeau
Theory : The tactics of everyday life
The Independent
Google search
The Independent recently (21/01/2014) published graphic content onto the online platform of the newspaper, portraying images of 'Images leaked by defector whose job was to 'take pictures of killed detainees''
Brief History Of The Conflict.
It amazed us just how far back various conflicts and negative events have been documented in the country.
We have chosen to focus on events from 2011 onwards, when the "Civil War" began to unravel.
One key theme seems to be of CONTROL. This is a country where control is so desperately needed, and many seem to be taking this into there own hands.
So, who and what can be classed as 'strategies' and 'tactics', a concept introduced by De Certeau.
Information about the conflict in Syria can be easily gained from the media, a google search of just the word 'Syria' brought up 99,500,000 results - the first 20 pages only relating to the Syrian conflict. It would be unlikely to not gain information through the media as the latest news is constantly being published on the TV, in newspapers, on the radio and online.




De Certeau calls a strategy 'the
calculus of force-relationships which becomes possible when a subject of will and power... can be isolated from an "evironment".
He calls a tactic on the other hand, 'a calculus which cannot count on a proper, nor on a borderline distinguishing the other as a visible quality.'
'A tactic depends on time - it is always on the watch for opportunities that must be seized on the wing.'
Guerilla War
The weak or disposessed who are generally without power do not take on the powerful head-on but, rather, through a series of tactical manoeuvres.

In the case of the Syrian conflict, the 'weak' or 'dispossessed' are the opponents; the Syrian people. The tactical manoeuvres made by the protesters include strikes and streets covered with people, all attempting to make a stand against the Syrian government.
An Act Of Kindness...
In the News
Rest of the world
In the News
Within Syria
For the rest of the world
This video shows the burning of a national Syrian news paper.
This portrays a tactic by the Syrian government as they control the Syrian newspapers and are using this form of media to try and gain followers. The video shows the rebels counteracting this tactic by burning the newspapers.
Within Syria
From the video you saw on the previous slide, Youtube is a key platform in which Syrian protesters express their point of view. Videos of demonstrations and protests have marked the Syrian conflict as a YouTube revolt. The footage shown of the conflict has been strategically framed and constructed in a certain way. It is available to access by other Syrians and the wider world to portray how bad the conflict is to the Syrian people.
"Social media became a powerful tool in getting the word out" Rafif Jouejati.
The rest of the world
Within Syria
This is a screen shot of what is happening in Syria. It shows how the rest of the world are using the platform to connect with Syria and raise awareness of what's going on.

The title is "Help for Syria" and written in English suggesting that someone from the outside of Syria has created the page.

This connection within 'real time' to the rest of the world is getting other countries involved with their civil war as soon as things are happening.
Use Of Twitter
Facebook was only allowed in Syria from the 8th of February in 2011 to allow the government to monitor what is happening online.

The strategy of monitoring the countries online activity was started with the tactic of allowing access to Facebook.

A month later was when the revolt began (march 2011) showing that the tactic the government used could have been the fuel for the rebellion.
After searching 'Syria' into Youtube, we discovered that videos are constantly being uploaded with the latest news on the current conflict.
There is an official twitter page for the Syrian Presidency.

From this, it is a popular topic globally and therefore shows why countries are attempting to make peace within Syria.
This is a symbol for their rebellion which has been filmed and broadcast to others in Syria via YouTube. Focault says that "Power is everywhere’ and ‘comes from everywhere’ so in this sense is neither an agency nor a structure" (Foucault 1998: 63) this means that although the government is powerful so is the rebellion as they are using the platforms to show a mass audience. The newspapers can be burned however social media cannot which makes the internet a powerful part of the war.
It appears that governments and those people in power see it as a necessity to be integrated within social media. All their tweets are in Arabic, so unless translated, they can only be read by the who understand the language.
Notice how the page itself does not follow anybody, possibly showing the governments refusal to connect to the public and other organizations that may want to intervene and give advice. A government that can be deemed powerful enough to carry out De Certeau's strategies, is here seeming to use a tactic to show the wider world that they are connected with new media.
It is important when looking at Syria as a country to take into consideration the cultural and religious context in which it stands.
Syria is an Islamic state that is majorly made up of Sunni Muslims leaving Sh'ia Muslims as a Minority.
Islam has been seen as a suppressed religion for many years and this has been blamed, sometimes on the media coverage of the faith.
Some would say that the media only shows negative coverage over the faith, as it is very rare that a good, positive news story will appear over the Islamic faith.
This relates back to 9/11, the conspiracy as to whether it was muslims who drove the plane into the twin towers: or was it a government planned operation.This relates to De Certeau ideas of strategies used by the bourgeoisie to maintain control.


This took quite a lot of searching to actually find a positive story available through social media!

The amount of 'likes' that the facebook page has highlights just how under the radar these glimmers of positive activity actually are. Although it may only be a small activity, it shows another side to how others want to help the Syrian people, and surely these are also the stroies that need highlighting through out the media - ones of positivity, hope, and co-operation to make a change.

It could be described as a 'tactic' used by an external influence, and will hopefully inspire others to do what they can, in any way they can, to help the Syrian people.

Every little helps!
Notice how the twit-pics appear to focus on a particular representation of productivity, team-work, professionalism, and unity between parties. Clearly a very different set of images to that we have witnessed previously.
877K Page Likes
"The tactics of consumption, the ingenious ways in which the weak make use of the strong, thus lend a political dimension to everyday practices."
(De Certeau, M. 1984: xvii)

Looking at the above De Certeau quote - the 'strong' here could be twitter and social media itself. The 'weak' (Syrian revolutionaries) are able to use these sites to their advantage, sharing their own experiences and viewpoints of the Assad regime. This has given 'the weak' a certain political and social power. The similarities and differences of these pages and the Presidency pages is intriguing.
Power To The People,
and Hash-tags.
The previous research on the "Revolution" pages shows the popularity of these sites. It's interesting that these social media outlets appear give a voice to the people of Syria, and the rest of the world are able to seek out more information than ever before from so many sources available throughout the media. However, this 'voice of the people' may not become as available as intended - the influence of hash-tags can be shown as an example of this.
When searching #syria on Twitter, the results are full of non-Syrian people's opinions or links regarding the conflicts. The real views of the Syrian people may get lost in transition, potentially blurring our viewpoints, because of our own views. How ironic!
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