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Book Talk with Laila Shereen Sakr: Arabic Glitch and Digital Palestine

April 11 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm  |  Humanities 1, Room 210


Laila Shereen Sakr (UC Santa Barbara) will give her talk entitled, “Arabic Glitch and Digital Palestine” and present her recent book, Arabic Glitch: Technocultures, Data Bodies, and Archives.

Arabic Glitch explores an alternative origin story of twenty-first century technological innovation in digital politics—one centered on the Middle East and the 2011 Arab uprisings. Developed from an archive of social media data collected over the decades following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, this book interrogates how the logic of programming technology influences and shapes social movements. Engaging revolutionary politics, Arab media, and digital practice in form, method, and content, Laila Shereen Sakr formulates a media theory that advances the concept of the glitch as a disruptive media affordance. Playing with multiple voices that span across the virtual and the real, Sakr argues that there is no longer a divide between the virtual and embodied: both bodies and data are physically, socially, and energetically actual.

The concept of Arabic Glitch challenges the once dominant narratives about the relationship between technology and political agency that center Silicon Valley, as well as the study of digital art (specifically glitch art), the study of online social movements, and area studies of the Arabic-speaking Middle East and North Africa. It instigates interventions by demonstrating that twenty-first-century resistance movements are grounded in the 2011 Arab uprisings; showing how social media stage confrontations between state and resistors; introducing the valuable concept of data bodies, which keep the body and analog experience in digital knowledge production, and promoting software literacy. While “glitch” in popular parlance is typically understood as an unwelcome error, an Arabic glitch functions as both a visual artifact and conceptual “tear” in technologies and institutions–a tear that creates an opening for social change. The argument interweaves ideas from artistic practice with discussions of historical and social movements while considering technoculture in the Arab world through the framework of “glitch.”

Laila Shereen Sakr PortraitLaila Shereen Sakr is Associate Professor of Media Theory and Practice at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research in media analytics and creative scholarship have deployed the idea, experimentation, and aesthetics of glitch to make a series of conceptual points culminating in her single-authored book, Arabic Glitch: Technoculture, Data Bodies, and Archives (Stanford University Press, 2023). At UCSB, she co-founded Wireframe, a studio promoting collaborative theoretical and creative media practice with investments in global, social, and environmental justice. She is Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Feminist Studies, Department of Media Arts and Technology, Center for Responsible Machine Learning, Center for Middle East Studies, and the Center for Information Technology and Society.

Presented by The Center for the Middle East and North Africa located within The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz.


April 11
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Humanities 1, Room 210
1156 high st
Santa cruz, CA 95060 United States
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