Koen Leurs on the Constitution of Identity by Moroccan-Dutch Youth Through Their Use of YouTube

By Stijnie Thuijs

Koen Leurs - 'Vernacular Spectacles? Dutch-Moroccan Youth on Youtube'. Photo by Anne Helmond.

Koen Leurs - 'Vernacular Spectacles? Dutch-Moroccan Youth on Youtube'. Photo by Anne Helmond.

After praising the wonderful lunch that was sure to revitalize the Video Vortex audience, Koen Leurs introduces his topic: the YouTube use of Dutch-Moroccan youth, born in the Netherlands but with natively Moroccan parents. Leurs explains how the right-wing politics in Holland are casting a shadow of negativity on the former immigrants and how the media present us with a black and white image. Anti-immigration, islamophobia, ‘Kopvoddentaks’ and street terrorists have become widely known and supported terms.

Koen shows us a video, a news report about the short film “Kop of Munt” , which shares a thought as to what would happen if all Moroccans would leave Holland. It’s meant sarcastically, but the media has picked it up as a heavy subject and made a fuss.

All this negative media attention causes presumptions about Dutch-Moroccan youth. But it is interesting to see them as they really are and perhaps how they handle all the bad news. Leurs wanted to find out how they constitute their identity through YouTube.

Koen Leurs – Video Vortex

Being a PhD student in Gender Studies at the Media and Culture Studies Department at Utrecht University, Leurs executed surveys (1500+) and in-depth interviews (43) with the subjects (Dutch-Moroccan youth between the age of 12 and 18), as well as an analysis of the digital material. He found that the DM youth use YouTube more often than Dutch youth and that it’s more woven into their everyday life. He also found that there are three ways of consumption for the DM youth. First, the nostalgic, ‘vernacular spectacles’. It is nostalgic longing for a home that no longer exists or has ever existed (Boym 2001). YouTube is their home in a sense, as the youngsters are ‘watching movies about where we come from’. The clips are symbolic anchors, a symbolic travel to a real, and at the same time magical place. Second is the consumption of differential music, ‘video’s of affinity’, such as those of Ali B and Yes-R. Third there is the knowledge brokering, which stands for a more broad and globally oriented consumption. Important to note here, is that this assumption parallels with the three types of orientation for migrated youth that Hepp, Bozdag and Suna found: origin-oriented, ethno-oriented and world-oriented.

What’s most important is that the Dutch-Moroccan youth doesn’t fit into boxes. They constitute their own identity, for a portion through the use of YouTube and other media, and combine practices and the best of three worlds (past home, present home and global culture). Above all, they watch clips that do not correspond with the negative mainstream opinion at all. Yes, they are positioned in a situation of in-betweenness, but the Dutch-Moroccan youth in Holland knows its way around the web and consumes what it likes best, not willing to apply to the negative public sphere.

Video Activism and Online Distribution in Post-New Order Indonesia

By Ryanne Turenhout

Ferdiansyah Thajib - 'A Chronicle of Video Activism and Online Distribution in Post-New Order Indonesia'. Photo by Anne Helmond.

On the second day of Video Vortex at the Trouw in Amsterstam, Nuraini Juliastuti and Ferdiansyah Thajib explored how video activist in Indonesia, appropriate a variety of distribution strategies. They began with a brief historical overview giving brief a historical overview of video activism in Indonesia. They continued with a mapping of video activism, the prospects and barriers and a brief exploration beyond activism.

At the early stage between 1970 and 1990s it began with an entrance through videocassettes. As explained in Juliastuti and Thajibmain’s book Video Chronic, the New Order saw the potential dangers of the cassettes and took measures to contain and control video practices. Nevertheless, film in Indonesia experienced several boosts, in the late 1980s the production and consumption was increased by the advent of private television stations, between 1991 and 1994 video production rose with fifty percent and in 1995 there was a rise in video piracy which extended the consumption beyond the economic class. This historical overview that they presented and is further explored in the book ‘Video chronic: video activism and video distribution in Indonesia’ shows that video practices in Indonesia are an interplay between production, distribution and consumption. They went on to show that at the end of Suharto’s New Order in 1998 a burgeoning of alternative media such as zines, mailing list and discussion platforms can be seen. These can be seen as alternative media outlets that form channels for discussion that could circumvent repression. According to Juliastuti and Thajib  two main ways of media participation can be observed in Indonesia. First there is the empowerment of marginalized communities. Secondly, media participation can be seen as a reaction to the more general exclusions created by capitalist media.


Nuraini Juliastuti - 'A Chronicle of Video Activism and Online Distribution in Post-New Order Indonesia'. Photo by Anne Helmond.

Thajib and Juliastuti went on to explore the intersecting trajectories of video activist, consisting of grassroots-, tactical- and experimental video activism. Grassroots video activist work with specific communities. Online they highlight the ceremonial aspect of being together, they also need video to connect with other events that are going on nationally and globally. Tactical video activist are those who are flexible in the methods of distribution. They use online distribution actively and feel that the mainstream media are not the appropriate channel or means to attain their goals. Tactical activists also use specific sites for their videos, for instance Indymedia. Experimental video activist explore the potentials of video and do more than expire change and intervene. They see online and offline as another way to experiment, connect and as a means of developing themselves.

Despite the rise of the video activism there are still technical barriers to be overcome. The limited bandwidth, particularly outside urban centers, the high-cost of getting access to the Internet and the increasing size of video files are difficulties to be overcome. Not only are there technical barriers but also the public perception is a barrier as well. The moral panic among the aggressor community; fears of being exposed to pornographic materials are mentioned as reason for not installing internet facilities in villages. There is also a digital divide which is not so much about getting access to the tools but is more about how can the tools be used. Media literacy is more an issue than who has access to the Internet, which became evident during the panel discussion after the presentation. Furthermore, the video producers are also concerned with how the material is going to be used and don’t really see the use for putting it online. Most of the producers care more about watching and making the video’s in conjunction with the community and they are not sure how it is going to be perceived and watched online.

The last part of the presentation went beyond video activism. The ubiquity of mainstream video-sharing services opens an area where the non-activist video can be pushed to the public and old media are using more amateur content. Additionally, the police are increasingly using the video’s as evidence, for instance a video of violence on Java, and to identify the actors involved in the events. The question then remains what the activist can do with the videos. Ferdiansyah Thajib concludes the presentation by stating the audience must do more than just view and take action, and that the video’s must emphasize the social change content that already exists offline, this to ensure that the audience is more receptive to these video’s.

The research into video activism in Indonesia has been published as a book (pdf), which can be found on the following website.

About the author: Ryanne Turenhout is a master student of New Media and Digital Culture at Utrecht University.

Internet Censorship in Turkey and Online Video

By Diana Soto de Jesús

Ebru Baranseli - 'Internet Censorship in Turkey and Online Video'. Photo by Anne Helmond.

Ebru Baranseli - 'Internet Censorship in Turkey and Online Video'. Photo by Anne Helmond.

As if the Internet Gods had planned it all along, Ebru Baranseli gave a report on the current situation of Internet censorship in Turkey right on the World Day Against Cyber Censorship.

According to Baranseli, a professor of graphic design at Anadolu University, until 2001 Turkey’s government had a “hands off” approach to Internet regulation: “It was thought that the general legal system regulating speech related crimes was adequate.” But that line of thinking wouldn’t last long. From 2001 onwards the government started to intervene.

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