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Gold. Power. Protest

research-paper by Doug Specht, published by New Media and Society


Colombia’s Internet connectivity has increased immensely. Colombia has also ‘opened for business’, leading to an influx of extractive projects to which social movements object heavily. Studies on the role of digital media in political mobilisation in developing countries are still scarce. Using surveys, interviews, and reviews of literature, policy papers, website and social media content, this study examines the role of digital and social media in social movement organisations and asks how increased digital connectivity can help spread knowledge and mobilise mining protests. Results show that the use of new media in Colombia is hindered by socioeconomic constraints, fear of oppression, the constraints of keyboard activism and strong hierarchical power structures within social movements. Hence, effects on political mobilisation are still limited. Social media do not spontaneously produce non-hierarchical knowledge structures. Attention to both internal and external knowledge sharing is therefore conditional to optimising digital and social media use.


Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash

Doug Specht


Dr Doug Specht is a cultural geographer and educationalist. His research explores themes related to environmental justice, human rights, and access to education, with a focus on the production and codification of knowledge though cartographic artefacts and in educational settings. In recognition of his work, he has been appointed as a Chartered Geographer and Chartered Teacher. In addition, he has been awarded Advanced Teacher Status, alongside being a Senior Fellow of AdvanceHE. Dr. Specht has authored numerous articles and books, including Mapping Crisis, the Routledge Handbook of Geospatial Technology and Society, the Media and Communications Student Study Guide and Imagining Apocalyptic Politics in the Anthropocene. He writes regularly on ethics, environmental and human rights, education, and mapping practices in such publications as WonkHE, The Conversation, Geographical, and for Times Higher Education. Dr Specht is a member of the editorial board of the European Journal of Geography, Westminster papers in Communication and Culture, and Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman. He is Chair of the Environmental Network for Central America.


20 April 2016
Key Words
Published By
New Media and Society
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