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Donatella Della Ratta


Syrian Hands Raised: User Generated Creativity Between Citizenship and Dissent


As much as images of violence, civil war, and sectarian strife become prominent in the media narrative of the Syrian uprising, little gems of innovative cultural production, artistic resistance, and creative disobedience continue to sprout across the virtual alleys of the Internet. These creative gems are also the germs of a viral peer-production process at work at a grassroots level in the new Syrian public sphere. Such acts of creativity—mash-ups, cartoons, slogans, jokes, ...

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The Syria Leaks

[Bank Al-Sharq (Banque Libano-Française Group) and the Blue Tower Hotel in Damascus, Syria. Image from Wikipedia.]

“The American psyche can be easily manipulated,” writes Sheherazad Jaafari, press attaché of Syria’s mission to the United Nations (UN), in a brief sent to Syrian presidential media aide and former Al Jazeera employee Luna Chebel. The brief suggested how to handle Barbara Walters’ interview of Bashar al-Assad, which was later aired on 7 December 2011. The brief comes from email correspondence hacked by the online activist movement known as Anonymous, who on 7 February ...

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Donatella Della Ratta


Donatella Della Ratta is Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and was Affiliate of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University 2012-2013. She has obtained her PhD on the politics of Syrian TV drama from the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, New Islamic Public Sphere Program, University of Copenhagen. She has authored two monographs on Arab media (“Media Oriente: modelli, strategie, tecnologie nelle nuove televisioni arabe,” ed. Seam, Roma, 2000; “Al Jazeera. Media e societa` arabe nel nuovo millennio,” Bruno Mondadori, Milano, 2005) and co-edited a book on Arab perceptions of US politics (“Un Hussein alla Casa Bianca: cosa pensa il mondo arabo di Barack Obama,” Odoya, 2009). She has curated chapters on Syrian media and politics in several collective books. Donatella has managed the Arabic speaking community of the international NGO Creative Commons for five years. She maintains a blog on Arab media at and tweets avidly at @donatelladr.