Public Lecture Explores ‘Infopolitics’ of U.S. and Eritrea
Democracy, digital media, and ‘infopolitics’ in the United States and Eritrea was on the agenda at a public lecture at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), where visiting scholar and author Professor Victoria Bernal discussed her latest research.
An anthropology professor at University of California, Irvine, Bernal focused on how politics are influenced by struggles over the management of information (or ‘infopolitics’) in the digital age. The examples of the U.S. and Eritrea were used to highlight the ways that contemporary struggles for democracy and threats to democracy are deeply entwined with digital media.
The talk was inspired by the scholar’s long-term investigation into how Eritrean politics manifest online, as well as her most recent work on digital surveillance, cybersecurity, and privacy in relation to the U.S. security state. The lecture was held on Monday, February 13 at 6:00 p.m. at GU-Q’s Education City campus.
“I have had a long career focused on Africa. Eritrea is an exciting case because its liberation struggle is so recent and the problems of governance and rights have unfolded in surprising ways,” said Bernal. “Working on how Eritreans in diaspora use the internet to engage in national politics and circumvent a repressive state sparked my wider interest in digital media and politics. When WikiLeaks and then the Snowden revelations came along, I felt that, as an American citizen, I should bring insights I have from studying Eritrea's surveillance state to critically examine issues of digital media and democracy in my own country.”
Bernal, who holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, has a research background focusing on topics ranging from politics to gender, migration and diaspora, war, civil society and activism, and digital media. Her most recent book, Nation as Network: Diaspora, Cyberspace and Citizenship, focuses on how the internet transforming the relationships between citizens and states.