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Freedom of Expression in Russia's New Mediasphere

Fri, December 7, 12:30 to 2:15pm, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 3rd, Wellesley

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

In the years that have passed since the social media powered protest movement of 2011-2012, the Russian government has dramatically expanded its restrictions on the Internet, while simultaneously consolidating its grip on traditional media. The Internet, which long provided a space for alternative media and free speech to blossom, is becoming increasingly restricted by a growing corpus of legislation and expanding state surveillance. With legally ill-defined prohibitions on, e.g., offending the feelings of religious believers, propagating 'non-traditional family values' and disseminating 'extremism' in place, the freedom of expression in Russia is at threat. At the same time, because of its transnational configuration, the Internet continues to evade comprehensive state control and offers ever new opportunities for disseminating and consuming dissenting opinions. The Russian new mediasphere develops rapidly, bringing forth innovative forms of publication and participation from the (g)local to the national level. The panel presents a multifaceted investigation of the freedom of expression in Russia today that is firmly interlaced with the critical study of Russia's transnational mediasphere, and of the contestations between an increasingly authoritarian state, media industries and citizens. To what extent can the expansion of digital technologies and the transition of Russia's media system into the era of horizontal, peer-to-peer communications through social media, still open up new pathways for expression that circumvent or challenge state-imposed systems of control? And what strategies are used by state-aligned media for effectively disseminating their contents online and reinventing themselves in order to keep contemporary audiences engaged?

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