October 14, 2014
6:00-7:30pm; 5:30 reception
In China, a blogger is an Internet censor by day and a government critic by night. In Cuba, the authorities try to silence a critic by planting seeds of distrust in her marriage. In Siberia, a blogger is arrested after he uses his online fame to launch an international protest.
Ordinary citizens like these took down the governments of Egypt and Tunisia. Authoritarian governments try to isolate individuals from one another, but in the age of Twitter and Facebook, this is impossible—social media has helped people overcome feelings of powerlessness. New technologies have given rise to a new kind of citizen. As one blogger put it: “Now I know who my comrades are.”
In Now I Know Who My Comrades Are, Emily Parker, a State Department policymaker with years of on-the-ground experience, tells the stories of dissidents from each nation. Chinese surveillance is sleek and invisible, while a Cuban Internet dissident might find a security agent sitting at the next table in a café. The Russian Internet is largely uncensored, yet bloggers who cross the line risk beatings, even death.
In all three countries, growing communities expose injustices, threatening governments that use fear as a tool of repression. These regimes now have a choice: become more open and accountable or fall victim to turmoil and instability. Now I Know Who My Comrades Are is a testament to the power of community in uncertain times.
Emily Parker is the digital diplomacy adviser and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, where she is writing a book about the Internet and democracy. Previously, she was a member of Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning staff at the State Department, where Parker covered twenty-first-century statecraft, innovation, and technology. Before joining the State Department, she was an op-ed editor at The New York Times and an editorial writer and op-ed editor at The Wall Street Journal. She has written more than 120 editorials and op-eds for the Journal, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, and Project Syndicate.
Join Ms. Parker for a 5:30 reception. Free and open to the public.
Presented by the Global Voices Lecture Series, the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, the Chicago Booth Social Enterprise Initiative, the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies, and the University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars Program.