Laila Shereen SakrDec 18, 2023
Technoculture, Data Bodies, and Archives
Stanford University Press 2023
Laila Shereen Sakr's book Arabic Glitch: Technoculture, Data Bodies, and Archives (Stanford UP, 2023) explores an alternative origin story of twenty-first century technological innovation in digital politics—one centered on the Middle East and the 2011 Arab uprisings. Developed from an archive of social media data collected over the decades following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, this book interrogates how the logic of programming technology influences and shapes social movements.
Engaging revolutionary politics, Arab media, and digital practice in form, method, and content, Laila Shereen Sakr formulates a media theory that advances the concept of the glitch as a disruptive media affordance. She employs data analytics to analyze tweets, posts, and blogs to describe the political culture of social media, and performs the results under the guise of the Arabic-speaking cyborg VJ Um Amel. Playing with multiple voices that span across the virtual and the real, Sakr argues that there is no longer a divide between the virtual and embodied: both bodies and data are physically, socially, and energetically actual. Are we cyborgs or citizens—or both? This book teaches us how a region under transformation became a vanguard for new thinking about digital systems: the records they keep, the lives they impact, and how to create change from within.
Laila Shereen Sakr is Assistant Professor of Media Theory and Practice at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher.