Olga Boichak. “Exploring the War-Media Nexus in the Ongoing Ukrainian Conflict.”

Olga Boichak. “Exploring the War-Media Nexus in the Ongoing Ukrainian Conflict.”


(soft chime) – [Olga] Hi, everyone. Thank you very much for inviting me, and thank you so much for coming. It’s really hard for me to see my fellow social science comrades and my fellow Ukrainian club members. Thank you very much. So, as Azcar said, this research is coming out of my dissertation. My principal interest is
in public participation in contemporary military conflicts. So, I will start my
presentation with an anecdote. In 2015 there was a viral news story about a ten-year-old guy
named Daneelko, or Daniel, who ran a birthday
fundraiser to then purchase a SUV, a sports utility vehicle, which he donated to the
93rd Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Now, I must say that
ten-year-olds routinely deploy vehicles at battle fronts, but they do so in computer games. So, the fact that this
sports utility vehicle was very physical, was very real, and was deployed by a minor
who was a foreign citizen at an active battle front raises questions about the comprehensive
social infrastructures that needed to be in
place for this to happen. Right, when we order
something from Amazon, things don’t just pop up at our doorstep. There is a comprehensive infrastructure and a socio-technical infrastructure, which means it has human
and technological actants that make for this to happen. And so in order for Daneelko
to be able to do this, there needed to be
somebody who would transfer this money to an organization
or person over in Ukraine, then there needed to be a
person in the European Union who’d purchase a used
sports utility vehicle, and then who would drive
it over to Ukraine. There would need to be some legal help in getting license plates and everything else for this car. There would need to be
a mechanic who would have to make sure it’s in
a good working condition and maybe do some minor fix ups. They would need to purchase gas. And, finally, there
would need to be a driver who would drive it and
give it to the soldiers. So, these are the soldiers
of the Ukrainian Army that are fighting the Russian
Army in Eastern Ukraine in an ongoing military
conflict that started in 2014. Actually, yesterday was
one of the deadliest days in this conflict as of
2019, so this conflict is still very much ongoing. And so, my interest here
is how do digital media open new pathways for civic engagement and for public participation in conflicts. So, I use a notion of
Battlefront Assemblages as a way to theorize on the role of media in contemporary conflicts. Oh, I’m sorry. Maybe I just turned it off, yes. So, this is an assemblage. This is actually an art
assemblage which was created by Daria Marchenko and Daniel Green. They’re Ukrainian artists who use rubble that they find at the
battlefronts to portray the meanings of the
Ukrainian military conflict and kind of the multiple
heterogeneous objects that participate in the
ways in which the wars are perceived and are
remembered by people. So, this particular assemblage consists of shoulder straps of all the countries who were the guarantors
of Ukrainian sovereignty by signing the Budapest
Memorandum of 1994. So, the Budapest Memorandum
was an international treaty, signed by the US, the UN,
and Russia to prevent, to basically to preserve
territorial integrity of Ukraine in case it were under attack. And in response, in exchange for those security assurances, Ukraine had to surrender it’s second largest nuclear potential and so become a non-nuclear state. And so, this assemblage
touches upon the questions of which role do the events, media, armies play in a military conflict. So, assemblages are these
historically situated heterogeneous objects that contain people, technologies, events, identities and other things mixed together. And this is my new materials ontology as a way to transcend those dualisms, because in the mediated
age it’s really difficult to disentangle digital from the physical, civil from the military,
real from the mediated, and so that is a way to kind of work with these binaries on a binary scale. And so, the idea here is that there are effective economies that
draw citizens, governments, artifacts, and events and
media into a military conflict. So, I’m going to talk about the role of media and warfare historically, then talk a little bit
about the Ukrainian conflict as of the present ongoing conflict, and then I’m going to finish with the public participation
in this conflict. So, it is a speculation, but wars have always been mediated. Right, and so there have
not been many instances of unmediated experiences of war apart from those
experienced by the soldiers who actually fight in the wars. So, there are usually
soldiers who directly get to fight in wars, and there’s
also a couple of onlookers who get to see these battles. But the fact that all of
us find out about wars is because there is media that transmits this information to the public. So, as in many cultural studies, it’s nice to start with
the ancient Greeks. So, in 8th century BC it
was a wonderful, epic poem written in dactylic hexameter by Homer. Has anybody read The Iliad? Yes, wonderful, a wonderful epic poem which was the oral tradition of telling histories about war. And so, it wasn’t only the ancient Greeks. I think a lot of countries, a lot of patients had
their own oral traditions of war storytelling. This is a picture painted by a
Ukrainian painter, Trutovsky, which depicts someone named kobzar. So, kobzar is a string instrument, it’s a comprehensive string instrument used by the Ukrainian storytellers. They were usually men who
were visually impaired, and who had little boys
who would lead them around, and who would tell the stories of epic battles fought by the Cossacks, and then later on in public places. So, that was a way to
find out about the wars, particularly by the public who might not have necessarily been literate. So, that was a way of
kind of storytelling. And media scholars recognized
the Crimean War of 1853-56 as the first mass-mediated
war in the history. Would anybody like to guess which medium made the Crimean War
the first mediated war? Take a stab. 1850, so the second half
of the 19th century. Yes. – [Student] The telegraph? – [Olga] The telegraph is a good one. It was widely used, but
a little bit earlier. But it still wasn’t a mass medium. – [Student] Oh, a mass medium, okay. – [Olga] Yes. – [Student] Photographs? – [Olga] The photographs. Right, so, the photographs were something that turned the Crimean
War into a mediated war. So, this is a very famous shot. It’s called The Valley
Of The Shadow Of Death, shot by Roger Fenton, who was a British photographer in 1855. It shows a lot of rubble and cannonballs. It shows a valley littered
with cannonballs and rubble. And this is what made the experiences of war come closer to us. So, photograph was a medium that could transcend distance and
bring the spectators closer to the battlefront, and that got to be really
crucial in the ways in which wars were fought, but also in ways in which wars were perceived by the public. An interesting fact is that Roger Fenton, he was sent by the Crown to the photograph (shuffling paper drowns out Olga), but he spent most of
his time photographing these elaborate insinuations of Ukraine armies in gardens in England. So, the ways in which
the war was represented was different from the
real experience of the war, because war became a matter
of public consumption, matter of public spectacle, and that was the first time when war was found entertaining for the masses. So, this is the actual
story of how pictures got to change the representation of war. An interesting thing about photographs is that they are taken in one context, but they’re perceived in another. They do not have any inherent frames. Apart from the symbolism that they carry, they’re really interpreted by the seer in a very different context
than they were taken. And so, a lot of meaning can be ascribed to photographs, right? If you don’t know that this was The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death, you might not have
understood the whole tragedy behind this photo. And so, photographs
can be ascribed meaning by the people who look at them. This was used by Queen
Victoria when she collected these series of heroic
photos of the British Army. And so, as opposed to narrative, which has a clear beginning, clear end, and gets to frame a lot
of what is happening, photographs do not. And so, as they travel, they may cause for a new set of meanings to emerge as we see them. So, telegraph was a big
thing in warfare, as well. Telegraph kind of destroyed
the tyranny of the distance. We no longer needed to
send horseback riders to pass our news to
other divisions of armies and things like that. So, telegraph, in a
way, increased the scale of a military conflict. Radio was a very big
thing in World War II. It was successfully utilized by the German Army in their Blitzkrieg so they could coordinate among each other. But, also the reason why
they were so successful in, specifically in the
battle against the French, is that radio could be used
to transmit propaganda. That is something that the
Germans were very good at, and that they utilized to get military victories over the French. And then, television. So, basically starting
from the photographs and then moving, kind
of progressing in time, we could see the public
getting more and more invested in war as a military affair, but also more having kind
of their own opinion, but also how the public starts to shape how wars are being fought. And so, with the onset of television, particularly the 24-hour broadcasting, the very famously known CNN effect, in which the public perceptions of warfare get to inform foreign policy decisions. So, a lot of the wars
were fought in the ways that the public thought was expedient. So, with the television, the news cycle really affected the perception
of warfare by the public, and allowed for the public, through their channels of
democratic representation, to influence the course of their country’s fighting wars. So, this is the movement
that went historically, and only with TV, the public kind of got a more active role to play as not only consumers, but also in shaping military decisions. So, now enter the deep mediatization. With the emergence of
digital technologies, there is a state called
deep mediatization, which is characterized by the higher order processes of societal transformation. So, on the one hand there is rapid advancement of digital technologies, on the other hand, it is humans’ increasing reliance on
these digital technologies as humans go about their daily lives. And as an outcome, that technology got to fundamentally restructure the social relationships that all humans who rely on it. And so, this growing interdependence is known as the deep mediatization. And so, with the digital media, particularly starting
from maybe 2000’s or 2005, digital media has
introduced profound changes into how wars are fought. So, mediatized warfare is the idea that contemporary wars
cannot to be disentangled from the media, and have to be understood in the context of the media that is used to mediate them, basically. So, there are three main things that changed the course of warfare with the onset of the
digital technologies. First is the emergence of cyberspace as a field of active military operations. That is going to only
increase as we transition from the Web 2.0, which
is the social media, to Web 3.0, which is
the Internet of things. There’s a lot of independent
interconnected devices that collect a lot of data and that can be easily hacked. And so, cybersecurity is a big national security priority nowadays. That is all introduced by the
technological advancements in the digital world. So, cyberspace is one,
but it’s a very limited understanding of what
mediatized warfare can do. Virality is another feature
of mediatized warfare. Virality, itself, is the rapid spread of information that has
two characteristics. First, is its speed. There are events that
get spread very fast. But, second, is the frequency. There used to be viral events, since the beginning of times. People always like to
talk about certain things. But it took much, much
longer for them to spread, as opposed to the current
mediated environments in which they can rapidly spread, and seemingly random things
get very popular overnight, as we see from the egg image on Instagram. Became, apparently, the most
popular image ever shared. So, with virality, it’s
really not possible to predict how information
is going to travel, and to what effect. So, this is the first thing
that makes it very difficult to establish any causal relationships in terms of the information that travels. But the third thing about the mediatized warfare is diffusion. Diffusion is the idea that
all of us carry sensors. We all have our smart phones, our cameras, and each and everyone of us can contribute to the information that is going on in the battlefield. And as an outcome, it
is really not possible, even for policymakers, to assess these consequences of different events. Before that there used to be mass media, and it was really possible
to calculate the impact of certain things being broadcasted. Right now, it is really very difficult because of this diffused
character of warfare, and to predict any kinds
of outcomes of military and other digital actions that have been during warfare. So, the most important thing
about the digital media is that it made war as a
matter of public participation. We, as public, now can actively, directly or indirectly, participate in the conduct of warfare. So, there are two ways, at least two ways, in which civilians can participate in mediatized conflicts. First, grassroots is in journalism, right, taking photographs and
posting things as we see them, or sharing some information. But, second is through acts
of humanitarian activism. And also, acts of humanitarian activism and support to their
own armies is not new. There has been, historically
there was, for instance, the Underground Railroad
was known to provide support to the Union soldiers. There was also a history of supporting the armies in Ukraine, where there was the
Ukrainian Insurgent Army that existed for many dozens of years, and that was much supported
by its own population. So, these are not new ideas, but the ways in which they can happen now are very different than they
used to have them before. So, if the Crimean War of 1853 was this mass-mediated spectacle, this pompous, grandiose
onset of the armies, the annexation of Crimea
is marked by obscurity. It was a non-occupation, and it was marked by a
sequence of nonevents. This is something very different from the traditional fighting of warfare in which the armies were making themselves as visible as possible. Even the ISIS fighters
successfully conducted their online campaigns to
showcase their military might and everything. In this case, there was nothing like that. So, it was marked by obscurity. It was deliberately
devoid of any symbolic, any symbolism and any
symbolic representation. So, as you might recall,
the polite green men, the soldiers that did not
have any markings on them, that covertly captured the
critical infrastructure, first in Crimea and then
in the Eastern Ukraine, and Donetzk and Luhansk, represents a shift in the warfare which is marked by this
absence of symbolism and absence of meaning. So, if somebody were to photograph, there are very noneventful photographs of that annexation. It was really not what is
thought of as warfare, as such, but it was the annexation of
the Ukrainian territories. So, this is a Ukrainian context, just a refresher on what
happened in Ukraine in 2014. So, first, you might remember Ukraine had a Revolution of Dignity. Actually, we just commemorated
the fifth anniversary of the deadly protest. And it started in 2013. A lot of people speculated that it started off a
single Facebook message by a Ukrainian activist. It’s really not true. But social media were really
used to mobilize people for participation in protests to an extent to which possible. But mostly it was an act of
digital and physical activism. What was interesting in
the Revolution of Dignity is that it was the first mediated protest. Because back in the
Orange Revolution in 2004, which I also got to participate in, that was before the social media and so the dynamics there
were very different. What was also different is
that the Orange Revolution was during an active election campaigns, so there were many political headquarters of candidates who could organize the logistics of the protest. We’re talking November, December, it’s when it starts getting really cold, and so there needed to be a lot of infrastructure in place
to facilitate the protest on a scale that they
were happening in 2004. And so, when the Revolution
of Dignity was starting, there was this concern
that it was in the middle, it was in-between the major elections, and there were no
infrastructural underpinnings that are able to sustain a large protest. So, a lot of the
organization of protests was grassroots organizing by just civilians who ran logistics, who
used social media a lot to organize the logistics
and sustain the protest for the many months. In February 2014, five years ago, the protests turned deadly, more than a hundred people
were shot by snipers, they are called the Heavenly Hundred. So, this was happening five years ago. And the annexation of Crimea
also started happening in the February of 2014,
by the non-occupation (student coughing drowns out Olga). Then the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic followed suit in March 2014. The same thing happened as in Crimea, but while no shots were fired
when Crimea was annexed, in this case the Ukrainian
government launched the anti-terrorist operation, which lasted for four years,
from March 2014 to April 2018. The conflict is still ongoing but it is no longer framed as
an anti-terrorist operation. What happened is that there were a lot of battlefront volunteers. And by that, I mean people who support, who engage in non-violent resistance, people who support the
Ukrainian Army soldiers on the battlefront against
the Russian occupation, and so which consisted
of citizens and diasporas that provided the humanitarian aid to the soldiers fighting, and also to the civilians whose livelihoods got
destroyed by the conflict. So, these are the battlefront assemblages. This is my analysis of
the public participation in this conflict. I’m looking at the affordances provided by social media to
organize the resistance. I’m looking at local
communities that were active in battlefront volunteering. And I’m looking at the diasporas as actors who participated in the
socio-technical macros. Some of my data, I will
spare you all of my methods, but I did 30 semi-structured interviews with people who support
the Ukrainian Army, with the Ukrainian Army soldiers, and with some diaspora representatives to understand the role of digital media in the Ukrainian conflict. I used memoirs and historical data, also some survey data to kind of ground the historical context. I used social network
analysis, semantic networks and infrastructure orthography. These are just some of
the things that I did. The case that stands out
in the Ukrainian conflict is the case of Mariupol, which was a very unlikely
candidate to resist occupation with the way that it was happening. So, Mariupol is located right here. It is a strategic maritime port and is also a large industrial city. It’s a half a million
population industrial city. And it’s located right in the middle between Crimea and the occupied (student coughs drowning out Olga) territories of Ukraine. So, there was a lot of speculation going on that capturing
Mariupol would allow for the Russian Army
to build a land bridge between Crimea and Donetsk, which seemed like a very expedient thing for Putin to do. And so, there was a lot of speculation once the Eastern Ukrainian territories for getting more occupied that Mariupol will also be occupied because of the strategic importance. However, that did not happen. Mariupol was only occupied shortly. It was under the so-called separatist rule for only three months, between April 2014 and July 2014. And after that it got liberated by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and it is now, and still
very much Ukrainian, very pro-Ukrainian, and as we know from the
last month’s events, there is a new wave of violence. This time it happened in the Sea of Azov. Partially, I think, it is because it was really not possible
to occupy Mariupol with the things that were going on in Mariupol at the time. So, Mariupol had 89%
Russophone population. As you might recall, one
of the unofficial reasons for the occupation were the oppression of the Russian-speaking
population in Ukraine. So, Mariupol had every right to seem like it could have been oppressed, because it had 44% ethnic Russians, it had a blatant lack of legitimacy, of State legitimacy due
to the absence of media. So, in Mariupol there were no local media and the only local TV channel was rebroadcasting Russian television. The other channels that were mass media, particularly television channels, were owned by the oligarchs who were not specifically pro-Ukrainian, and they didn’t do anything in building and cementing
the Ukrainian identity since the beginning of
Ukraine’s independence. So, it is really unsurprising
that the population of Mariupol were pretty much inert, were not very much in support
of the Ukrainian State at the time of these events
were starting to happen. And so when Mariupol
started to be subjected to these non-occupation tactics, a very interesting thing happened. So, about 20 activists who were advocating for very active during
the Euromaidan protests created two Facebook
groups which were hidden. They anonymized their profiles, and they started identifying patterns of separatist activity in their city. So, the non-occupation tactics involved a lot of political tourists. These were young men who
were shipped from Russia, who were bussed from Russia actually, from different cities in Russia, who were standing on the streets of the cities in Ukraine protesting against the
Ukrainian nationalists and advocating for Russian troops to enter their city and liberate them from the occupants. So, social media played a vital role when these political tourists started appearing in Mariupol people could photograph them and then use social media
to identify who they were. And so, these people
claimed to be fighting against the Ukrainian fascists, but then you can see from
their social media profiles their affinity for the Nazi ideology. So, this was key, these photos that circulated social media, particularly by citizens of Mariupol were key in flipping the
fascist/anti-fascist narrative. Because in Russia, for a long time, Nazi Germany and fascism was a threat because they posed a threat to Russians. It was not an ideology that they opposed for ideological reasons. It was only a threat as long as it posed a threat to the Russian empire. So, framing any activity
in terms of fascism basically means that it’s
a threat to all Russians. And so, when they framed
the Ukrainian government as the fascist junta, which is the new thing that they dubbed the Ukrainian government, it was to symbolize the threat that the Ukrainian government carries to the Russians and Russian speakers, which was not true, and which the activists of Mariupol were able to explain that there’s nothing fascist in protecting your own country, that these people who claim
to be fighting fascism show some disturbing
affinity to this ideology. And this was one of the things that they were able to change during their digital activism. They also engaged in many symbolic wars. They would paint a lot of
things in public spaces in the colors of the Ukrainian flag to show that there are people in Mariupol who support the Ukrainian State. They would organize online
and offline flash mobs. The online flash mobs
were very interesting. It was people who are fleeing the occupied territories
of Donetsk and Luhansk, sharing their experiences, what it meant to be Ukrainian to them, sharing that I am Russian speaking, everybody in my family is Russian speaking and I’m pro-Ukrainian. This was a very crucial way to identify what Ukrainian
identity meant to them, especially under the
conditions of occupation. And the same with online flash mobs, there were people who would
just have the State symbols, make them prominent, and would just be walking
in the streets of Mariupol, demonstrating their support
for the Ukrainian state. So, by producing this counter-narrative to the fascist allegations, basically through propaganda, they were able to make a
lot of citizens of Mariupol understand the situation better, understand the risks that the occupation of their city would carry to them, and support the Ukrainian state, and the time when the state legitimacy hit an all-time low. So, now State legitimacy is
much stronger in Mariupol. There’s wide support
for the Ukrainian State. And as an outcome, Mariupol
could not be captured. Well, it could not be held, let’s say. And then also, these activists organized a wide range of volunteering projects only in a couple of months starting from February-March 2014, they were able to have
a 5000-7000 strong crowd in celebration of the
Ukrainian independence in 2014. So, something that started with a really small group of 18-20 people who were very active on
social media, and offline, demonstrating their affinity
for the Ukrainian State, they were able to reach a mass of people who would support the State. So, these are some of the things that were used by the activists. The affordance of anonymity, the affordance of interactivity, which basically allowed them to interact with each other anonymously. Usually, in public, we cannot, interaction in public
poses a lot of risks. So, if the city is occupied, and you’re trying to advocate
for the Ukrainian State, it attracted a lot of
risks to those people. So, they were only able to interact with each other and to find each other because they would have patriotic avatars and patriotic nicknames that would allow them to find each other. Then there was the
affordance of interactivity, the way that people of Mariupol could interact with each other. And affordance of visibility, their support for the Ukrainian State was highly visible among
the local population which had its own outcomes
in terms of State legitimacy. So, basically, they were
able to prevent occupation by building a national identity among those network publics in that city. So, now kind of zooming out, the Ukraine’s Underground Railroad is this comprehensive
social infrastructure that has the activist networks that were using the
capacities of digital media to support the Ukrainian Army. It is really difficult
to estimate the impact of these Ukrainian battlefront volunteers, but there is data that over
30 million of US dollars made its way to the Ukrainian battlefront through these initiatives. This is one example of such initiatives, the People’s Project. It is a military crowdfunding website where people can support, purchase different
equipment for the soldiers, support different initiatives that were organized by
the People’s Project. And, basically, what
battlefront volunteering was, it was a network of warehouses for military and humanitarian aid to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And these were also large
scale transnational networks because some actors in these networks were outside of Ukraine. So, this is a typology of
battlefront volunteering. It all started from alleviating the soldiers’ immediate needs. So, when the Ukrainian Army had to be deployed in the Eastern part, it was facing a well-equipped enemy, and the fact that Ukrainian Army had been underfunded since the beginning of Ukraine’s independence, and the fact that this mobilization had to be done very quickly, did not provide much
time for the logistics, for the military logistics to kick in. And, so, a lot of the soldiers who were deployed at the battlefronts, they were lacking bare necessities that were provided by the volunteers, so, starting from food,
drinking water and clothing, and ending with more
comprehensive equipment, such as night vision detectors
and things like that. Too automobiles, again, the army had a high demand in automobiles that were provided by the volunteers. High tech equipment, as I mentioned. Expatriation of mortal remains, that was something that the
volunteers took on doing, as there were no resources to transport the deceased soldiers
back to their families. So, a lot of these things
were done by the volunteers on the money that was crowdfunded or otherwise fundraised
among the population. So, there are veteran
rehabilitation and services, and I think some of us know
more about that than this. But, basically a lot of veteran
rehabilitation and services were also taken over by volunteers. This is one example of
battlefront volunteering. This is a military emergency vehicle which was used for transporting
the wounded soldiers to the hospitals, which was also a volunteer run initiative. And also, high precision
tactical GIS mapping, it’s ongoing, it’s an
initiative of cartographers who realized that the Ukrainian army did not have the most comprehensive maps. And that’s something that they could do, and so there was an initiative
of over a hundred people who helped create the high
precision tactical GIS maps for the Ukrainian Army, and helped supply the devices and train them how to read these things, and stuff like that. So, these are just some of the initiatives that were done by the
battlefront volunteers in the context of this conflict. This was an attempt to map the battlefront volunteering communities. So, we see the
representatives of mass media are shown in green, we see there is some organizations, there are diaspora organizations. We also see the central
nodes, the Euromaidan. So, it is evident from here, as a kind of issue network, a lot of battlefront volunteering
started during Maidan and kind of stemmed from the organization that got created during
the time of Maidan. So now, to diasporic involvement
of the Ukrainian conflict. Let me see how much time we have, okay. So, diasporas, they’re social groups that share a national identity while living outside of their country. But they’re not stable communities, right. Not everyone who lives outside of their country of origin
identifies as a Ukrainian. And so, the idea is the taking
a social movement approach to diasporas as actors helps us understand the issues that mobilized diasporas, and that really consolidate
these communities in the times of crisis, and so crisis events
happening in the homeland are big drivers for
diasporic mobilization. And so, there’s a process
known as translocalization, which is a multi-territorial arrangement in which diasporas are
simultaneously local actors in their communities, they’re national actors
and they’re global actors in the transnational context. So, they’re not just local or just global, but they kind of work at all
three levels of engagement, and they also leave digital traces, which makes digital media an
interesting emperical site to study the transnational
diasporic behavior. And so, this was where I was mapping the diasporic discourse on social media. So, what I did is, I found every group that identified as Ukrainians
in the US or in Canada. They might identify as
Ukrainian diaspora in Canada or Ukrainians in the city. So, all of these groups were organized as public Facebook groups. I had ten diasporic communities, five were in the US, five were in Canada. These were the only
groups that were public and that were consistently active throughout the military conflict. And so, I was interested whether there were conversations
about the Ukrainian conflict, and whether there were conversations about delivering humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian conflict, in particular. And I was also interested in context of diasporic engagement, what did these actors do, in which context did
they do one or the other. And so, here’s what I found. This is an example of the semantic network which basically takes all of the nouns from the whole diasporic discourse. I did it for every group. And so, I could see the
structure of their discourse. I could see which words were
connected to which word. So, we have here an example of a political discussion about, so we see country, Russia, power, Putin, worth, time of year, person, they’re discussing the Ukrainian politics. So, I found all ten groups that engaged in political discussions, which was unsurprising. But I also found the ten groups engaged in humanitarian relief efforts. So, just showing the
scale of this behavior right from anecdotal evidence that the diasporic actors
support the Ukrainian Army to the direct evidence that there are these conversations and these fundraisers going on in these groups online was something that I
was very excited about. And I also found different
context of diasporic engagement. In Canada, groups usually
use trusted people, so there were trusted community activists that the Canadian
diasporas cooperated with. In the US, there is
much broader engagement, so there’s engagement
with trusted individuals, organizations and also supporting a variety of social causes that happened because of the conflict, So not only the Ukrainian Army
soldiers are also broader. And so, what I can see
is the digital media really facilitated the
direct horizontal alliance between diaspora members
and affected communities. I saw a lot of posts where
these community members were posting on the walls
of the diasporic groups, request for help and they were answered. So, these are the new
diaspora horizontal ties that digital media allow
to facilitate among people. And this is something
that is also very new. So, we have gone full circle back to the battlefront assemblages. I hope I illustrated
each step of the process, how this young man could
contribute to the Ukrainian Army, could help the Ukrainian Army soldiers. My conclusions are that focusing
on only digital activism in mediated conflicts often obscures the networks of actors that
work in the background. So, just to draw attention to the materiality of the hybrid warfare, there’s a lot of military scholars talking about the
post-modern view of warfare in which modern conflicts are battles for perceptions, which is very true, but also we have to remember
about the materiality of the actual conflicts
that are being fought. And also, that by affording
public participation digital media do not only
influence perceptions but also the outcomes
of military conflicts. That is something that I found that I’m trying to work more on. And so, going forward, Battlefront Assemblages is a book project that I’m hopeful to write next year. Battlefront Geographies is another project that came out of this research where I’m mapping the frames and traces of diasporic globalization, so I’m looking at the origin of the hyperlinks shared
among diaspora groups to see which language content is used to mobilize diasporic groups, and also where it was produced, whether it’s the Ukrainian content, like Ukrainian news that gets shared in the groups that mobilize them, or whether it’s the
US-produced, US-based media. And also, the networks
of micro-resistance. Here you see a masking net. So, there’s a very interesting community of more than 500 organizations that make masking nets from scratch. These are military grade masking nets. They’re made by these communities, so another project is connected to these networks of micro-resistance. I guess this is it. Thank you so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *