DGV05: new logic of conflict

Local conflicts go online
by Birgit Bräuchler

In contrast to conventional (mass)media the so called ‘new media’—among them the most prominent Internet—stand out due to criteria like interaction, multimediality, transcending location, and networking. Because of the named criteria the Internet is able to add a global dimension to local conflicts. This is exemplified by a case study on the Moluccan conflict, which took place from 1999 to 2002 in Eastern Indonesia—mainly between Christians and Muslims. It will be shown how local actors expanded the conflict into the Internet, and which strategies they put to use. During this conflict the Internet became an instrument, even a weapon encompassing a repertoire of means going far beyond those contemporarily in the focus, like e.g. cyberwars or flamewars. Questions of identity and differentiation seem to be as important as community building. But the presentation will not stop at proofing that with the Internet a new era of representing and carrying out conflicts has started. It will be made clear, that the Internet as tool and as field is a challenge for sociocultural anthropology. Established methods of research and theoretical concepts like identity, community, and conflict possibly are pivotal contributions to the social sciences’ research on the Internet—on the other hand those concepts have to be transformed and adapted accordingly.

Abstract of a presentation to be held at the workshop ‘cyberanthropology’ during the Conference of the German Anthropological Association (GAA aka DGV) – Halle / Saale, 4th – 7th October 2005.
translation of the official German abstract by zeph—put the blame on me

Birgit Bräuchler’s dissertation “Cyberidentities at War: Der Molukkenkonflikt im Internet” (Bräuchler 2005) has just been published.
Nils Zurawski, giving a presentation within the cyberanthropology panel as well, has written a rave review [.pdf | 18KB] on it.