Critical Thought, Human Rights and Freedom in the Middle East in 2020s

Thursday, 9 June, 2022 - 12:00

New Date: Thursday, 9 June 2022, Lunchtime (12 pm CET / SA time)

Please register for this Zoom session in advance of the event

WiSER Invites you to an online Panel discussion on Critical Thought, Human Rights and Freedom in the Middle East in 2020s

· What are the current changing dynamics that cause the decline of human rights and freedom in the Middle East?

· How can the reduction of critical voices across Middle East be best understood and addressed to centre those in the margins?

· What is the role of the diaspora in building critical knowledge futures?

The Middle East region has been a juncture of political violence, ethnic and sectarian tensions, authoritarian rise and rivalries between external powers and regional countries in the last decades. This seminar will cover issues surrounding state hegemony, gender-based inequalities, border and migration regimes as well as social movements, freedom of speech and politics and governance of info-tech and media in the region. Field experts` insight will help conceive the current changing dynamics in the region and highlight the role of CSOs, human rights defenders, activists and knowledge workers through a comparative lens. A final focus will be on the way forward for critical knowledge futures: Along with input from the audience, we will discuss the impact of the expanding diaspora on politics of the Global South and draw upon possibilities of South-South exchange and collaboration.

Moderator and Organizer: Asli Telli


Janroj Yilmaz Keles: Digital Authoritarianism and Symbolic Violence

Ayse Durakbasa: Violations of Human Rights and Gender Equality under the Authoritarian Regime in Turkey and the Middle East

Begüm Basdas: No Future in Sight: Governance of Migration and the Rights of People on the Move

Iginio Gagliardone: Politics and Governance of Info-Tech in the Global South: A Comparative Perspective

Asli Telli: The impact of religious authoritarianism on critical thought and media (wrap-up)

  • What are the current changing dynamics that cause the decline of human rights and freedom in the Middle East?

  • How can the reduction of critical voices across Middle East be best understood and addressed to centre those in the margins?

  • What is the role of the diaspora in building critical knowledge futures?

Organizer and Moderator Bio

Asli Telli is an Associate Professor of Media and Communications with a dual PhD degree in media studies and social informatics from the European Graduate School and State University of Appalachia. Before coming to Germany as a PSI Fellow and Research Associate at Locating Media GRK of Uni-Siegen in 2017, she performed field research and trained college students as well as adult learners in the US, Switzerland, Malta and Turkey. Her current fields of interest include exile knowledge workers as collaborative commons, digital platforms for dissent action and diaspora politics. Asli led a number of local and EU-funded projects in fields of political communication, STS, grassroots activism and scholarly dissent for 20 years. She contributes to several recent projects, including “Issue Mapping as part of Critical Action Research” and "Design process for Decolonizing Digital Rights Field in Europe". Lately, she collaborates with her colleagues in reflecting on critical peace studies, knowledge commons and collaborative design for knowledge futures as part of her remote fellowship at WISER of Wits University, South Africa. For further info on her academic work:

Speaker Bios

Janroj Yilmaz Keles is a Senior Research Fellow in Politics at Middlesex University Law School and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Women, Peace and Security, LSE, London, researching on peace and conflict, gender, ethnicity and nationalism, statelessness, migration and (digital) social movements. Keles has extensive experience of international education. He studied in Turkey, Germany and United Kingdom and received his PhD in Sociology and Communications from Brunel University, London. He is the author of Media, Conflict and Diaspora (I.B. Tauris, 2015) and his articles appeared in Political Geography; Antipode; Urban Studies; Journal for Ethnic and Migration Studies, Work, Employment and Society and the Sociological Review, among others. He is currently one of the co-investigators of the GCRF Hub – Gender, Justice and Security, led by The LSE in partnership with Middlesex University and other 17 institutions around the world to conduct large-scale research on Migration & Displacement in the Middle East and South Asia. 

Ayse Durakbasa is a professor of sociology with a PhD degree from University of Essex.Her areas of specialization are sociology of gender, feminist theory and methodology, women studies, social inequality, citizenship and social History. She was Käthe-Leichter-guest professor in 2017 winter term in Vienna University and taught in the History Department. She was a guest professor in the Islamic Studies at CNMS (Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies) of University of Marburg and gave two courses in the summer term, one on Ecofeminism and the other on Gender Politics in Turkey in 2021. She has published widely on Turkish modernization and gender issues; her last project combining her interest in the social history of modern Turkey with the historical study of social class and gender. Durakbaşa is now based in Istanbul as an independent researcher and a member of BİRARADA Association, initially founded by the peace academics after they were purged out of the universities in Turkey.

Begüm Başdaş is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School. Her research interests are in the fields of migration, human rights, political theory, gender and sexuality studies with a focus on EU and Turkey. She received her PhD in Geography from the University of California Los Angeles and her MA in Art History from the University of California Riverside. Her BA was in Sociology at Boğaziçi University, Turkey. Before joining the Hertie School, she was an Einstein Fellow at Humboldt University in Berlin at BIM, where she worked on the spatial politics of solidarity and care among Afghan refugees and rights defenders in Lesvos-Greece. She also worked full-time as a human rights campaigner at Amnesty International Turkey for six years. She has a biweekly TV program titled “On the Move with Begüm Başdaş” on Medyascope TV in English and Turkish, where she discusses current issues on migration with different guests. As a critical feminist geographer, her current research titled “In the Making of New Europe: Embodied Politics of Borderlands” aims to contribute to migration and border studies by examining the reconstruction of EU borderlands at multiple scales through the governance of migration particularly in Greece and the Balkan routes.

Iginio Gagliardone is Associate Professor in Media and Communication at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and Associate Research Fellow in New Media and Human Rights in the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP), University of Oxford. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has been living between Italy, Ethiopia, the UK, and South Africa, researching the relationship between new media, political change, and human development, and exploring the emergence of distinctive models of the information society in the Global South. His most recent publications include “China, Africa, and the future of the Internet” (ZED), “The Politics of Technology in Africa” (Cambridge University Press), and “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development” (UNESCO). His study “Countering Online Hate Speech”, supported by UNESCO, has rapidly become one of the most cited publications in the field, highlighting the need to develop bottom-up and contextually informed responses to the emergence of online hatred.

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