Social media, satire and creative resistance in the Bahrain uprising: from utopian fiction to political satire
Communication and the Public
Social media has permitted activists to subvert censorship and state-controlled media. As a result, it has become a key medium for experimenting with and/or creating genres previously marginalised or discouraged by the Bahraini government. This article explores aspects of revolutionary cultural production and creative resistance in Bahrain since the uprisings in 2011 and examines the role social media has played in shaping and defining it. Focusing on memes, parody accounts and the YouTube serial Baharna Drama, this article looks at the rise of political satire online and the evolution of satirical forms over the progression of the uprising as a dialectic with government policy and propaganda. This article argues that social media has facilitated the emergence of new forms of satire in Bahrain and has allowed activists to assert, to both local and global audiences and in different registers, the integrity of a desired revolutionary aesthetic by confronting state attempts to paint the revolution as schismatic and divisive. As such, 2011 marked a new turn in Bahrain’s satirical heritage. It also argues that the subversive nature of satire makes it a favourable genre with regard to revolutionary cultural production and the public sphere, yet acknowledges that satirical forms, as a response to authoritarian policies, are rarely devoid of the tutelage necessary to make them a truly revolutionary form of counter-narrative.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Sage publications via the DOI in this record.
First Published May 24, 2017