huma.yusuf | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent blog posts by huma.yusuf

The Long March Online--Huma Yusuf in Pakistan

Ed. note: Our research affiliate Huma Yusuf is in Karachi covering the political protests in Pakistan, and she is blogging about Pakistanis' uses of citizen journalism on The Dawn Blog, from which we'll quote as Huma posts more.

Pakistan, a developing nation with 17 million internet users in a population of over 150 million people, seems like an unlikely place for internet activism to thrive. But ongoing political turmoil (and a propensity for arbitrary arrests) has made this South Asian country one of the most politically active nations online.

Old and New Media: Converging During the Pakistan Emergency (March 2007-February 2008)

Sasha Costanza-Chock is a scholar and mediamaker who works in areas including: social movements and ICTs; participatory technology design and community based participatory research; the transnational movement for media justice and communication rights; comunicación populár; mobile phones and social change; digital literacies and digital inclusion; race, class, and gender in digital space, the transformation of public media systems; the political economy of communication; and information and communications policy. He holds a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, where he is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate, and is also a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Sasha presently lives in Los Angeles, where he works with community-based organizations to develop critical digital literacies (for example, see

Old and New Media: Converging During the Pakistan Emergency (March 2007-February 2008)

A PDF of this report is available for download here.


Arguments about digital technology, civic engagement, and collective action are often framed in the context of political participation in developed nations, particularly, the United States. Many have concluded that the availability of digital technologies and new media platforms facilitates democratic practices and participatory behavior. Whether this is equally true of the developing world remains to be critically examined.

Pakistan is a developing nation where digitally networked technologies and new media platforms are emerging, and where a struggle to establish democratic norms amidst authoritarian superstructures is underway. Between March 2007 and February 2008, a period referred to colloquially as the ‘Pakistan Emergency,’ a state of emergency was imposed, the constitution suspended, a popular politician assassinated, media censorship enforced, and general elections conducted.

Using Theatre as a Classroom for Civic Engagement

Nilaja Sun’s one-woman play “No Child,” currently being staged at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, is a phenomenal mix of storytelling, journalism, activism, and civic engagement. The 70-minute performance isn’t bogged down by intricate sets, costume changes, or dazzling lighting design. Instead, Sun uses three chairs, a broom, and her ability to embody and humorously animate a dozen characters to start a meaningful conversation about education reform. The fact that it is as tech-free as a theater performance can get without leaving the audience literally sitting in the dark should serve as a lesson for everyone aiming to use new technologies to facilitate social justice.

State of Emergency in Pakistan: An Analysis of Local Media

Much can be said about Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf’s decision to declare a state of emergency in my home country. In this post, I will set aside political commentary and restrict my comments here to the role that news media and new media are playing in the national crisis.

On Saturday, November 3, soon after proclaiming emergency rule in a televised address, Musharraf demanded that all cable operators stop beaming the broadcasts of all local and foreign new channels, except those of the state-owned Pakistan Television. Nearly 30 channels were promptly taken off the air. On Sunday, policemen raided the Islamabad offices of Aaj TV, a private news channel, and attempted to confiscate the channel’s equipment.

This nationwide broadcasting blackout was accompanied by sporadic efforts to cut telephone lines and jam cell phone networks, even though the telecommunications infrastructure in Pakistan is privately owned. According to VOA News, the telephone lines of Pakistan’s main independent news channel Geo TV were cut.