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Fractured lives, digital selves: Iraqi women’s warblogs and the wilderness of cyberspace

thesis
posted on 22.03.2017 by Campbell, Perri
The Iraq war blogosphere is a place of loose ends, fragments and moments in time. It is a space shaped by conversations, contradiction, opinions and life stories. Time is compressed by archive functions and selves are fractured by dates and posts. As I pull various threads together figures appear on the horizon, shaping the wilderness of this digital landscape. Here I encounter young sisters HNK and Aunt Najma, Neurotic Iraqi Wife, Riverbend and Faiza. In this space I am not analysing a text. It is not just a story. I am delving into a history of thoughts, reflections, and memories where the troublesome past meets the possible future. A ‘sense’ or part of who these women are lies in these fragments, in my practice of reading their blogs, and of lurking in the Iraq war blogosphere. This thesis provides a critique of what it means to be a woman – to be a mother, a worker, a sister, a University student – in post-invasion Iraq, and a critique of what it means for me – a white, Australian woman – to speak about Iraqi women’s experiences. I draw upon Foucault’s late ‘ethical’ work to argue that weblogs provide a real-time, unfolding, reflexive, and often inter-active window into particular life-worlds and into selves that shift and move and exist in tension between a variety of digital and non digital spaces. I engage with five particular Iraqi women who shape a digital-self in the wilderness of cyberspace. I explore the tensions between the various ways women practice a self in/between different fields of possibility in Iraq, such as the workplace, marketplace, school, or home (Foucault, 1997a: 291). I encounter these practices of the self as stories of choice, of decisions made amidst a sea of possibilities, encouragements, and right decisions (Foucault, 1982: 212). The ways in which HNK, Neurotic Iraqi Wife, Aunt Najma, Riverbend and Faiza, practice freedom and negotiate power across digital and non-digital fields, shapes the very fields the bloggers engage with. In a time of war, chaos and often deadly uncertainties digital-selves speak to the malleable limits and possibilities of discursive fields. These women enable us to see the local, embodied repercussions of a global struggle, the sites where encouragement and coercion meet, and where choice and practice converge.

History

Principal supervisor

Peter Kelly

Year of Award

2011

Department, School or Centre

Behavioural Studies

Course

Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type

DOCTORATE

Campus location

Australia

Faculty

Faculty of Arts

Exports