The technology of hope : twitter and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign
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Subjectboko haram; bring back our girls; gender; new social movements; transnational movements; Twitter
On April 14, 2014 Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group, abducted 274 girls from a secondary school in the Chibok region of northeastern Nigeria. The mass abduction of the Chibok girls shook Nigerians and spurred a social movement where citizens took to the streets of Abuja in protest and demanded the return of the girls. The movement quickly infiltrated online spaces, and splashed throughout social media where celebrities like First Lady Michelle Obama and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres held up signs with the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Using semantic network analysis in following the “#BringBackOurGirls” hashtag after the one-year anniversary of the abduction, and in-depth interviews with activists and influencers in Nigeria and North America, this thesis explores how technology, expressly Twitter, can influence the progression of a new social movement like #BringBackOurGirls. It finds Twitter serves as a powerful public space for minorities and marginalized voices to circumvent traditional media; once there, these actors can express opinion and opposition in a succinct format, as well as unite and organize swiftly in their capacity as new social movements. The case study also reveals important intersections between technology, radical Islam, gender, the tension between the Global North and the Global South, and online versus offline activism.
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