In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt discusses the boundlessness of human action. She writes, “The limitations of the law are never entirely reliable safeguards against action from within the body politic, just as the boundaries of the territory are never entirely reliable safeguards against action from without.”1 Borders are constantly erected and monitored to limit social, cultural, and political action. Before resorting to physical repression, states engage in a pre-emptive exercise of boundary-drawing whereby they place certain spaces, the sacred and the potentially threatening, out of the reach of citizens. The following chapters by Murphy and Yang discuss how citizens use media to deliberately resist hegemonic orders and transgress such imposed borders. Just as the ruling Chinese dynasties first ordered the erection of the Great

Wall to protect the empire from invasions and intrusions by foreign nomadic groups, Guobin Yang explains how the Chinese government created the “Great Firewall” (officially called the Golden Shield Project), an elaborate system of internet control that separates Chinese cyberspace from the outside. In his chapter, Yang takes up the task of explaining how and why this Firewall was erected, and how Chinese political activists are constantly scaling and crossing it. Studying the use of Twitter in China, Yang analyzes the simultaneous efforts by the Chinese state and activists to respectively draw and transgress borders. Explaining how activists made use of favorable global forces and international media exposure to advance their struggle against the Chinese state, Yang shows how global media have become a powerful player even in local struggles. Although the state has been overemphasized as the target of political acti-

vism, Murphy shows that resistance does not exclusively pit citizens against their nation-states. The state-sponsored green media project in Ecuador is a case in point, where civil society and the state joined forces, through local media, to resist a global neo-liberal system that is destroying the planet and exploiting its resources. The alliance had shifted: while citizens seek the help of international actors against the state in China, citizens join forces with the state in Ecuador in their fight against global economic forces. In both

scenarios, activists articulate demands which are increasingly global in scopein a local discourse, sometimes seeking answers and inspiration in the past. In Ecuador, ancient Andean cosmology and its philosophy of living in harmony with nature guided the drafting of the new “green” constitution. At a time when “going green” has become a global commodity to be consumed with our environmentally conscious Starbucks paper cups, Ecuador re-framed the relationship between people and Earth through a local discourse inspired by Andean tradition. In addition to blurring the boundaries between the local and the global

spheres of action, new forms of mediated resistance-in China, Bolivia, Ecuador, and elsewhere-destabilize boundaries between old and new media. Following recent uprisings in the Middle East, pundits have placed “new media” at the heart of popular struggles for social justice and political change. Iran’s Green movement in 2009 followed by Tunisia’s Jasmine revolution and Egypt’s January 25 revolution in 2011 set in motion a seemingly unending debate among political commentators, journalists, and academics about whether or not the “revolution will be tweeted.”2 For new media enthusiasts, resistance was reduced to a mouse click and the internet became the beacon of social activism. Social networking websites were considered the main tool of political mobilization and action. The U.S. State Department’s intervention to delay a planned Twitter upgrade that would cut daytime service to Iranians disputing the elections in June 2009 remains a shining example.3 But the use of communication technologies in social movements is far from being a recent development, nor is it restricted to new digital media. In his paper, Murphy shows how radio and cinema were used in a Latin American context to advance environmental causes. Undoubtedly, the internet ushered in new possibilities for and forms of resistance. However, it would be a theoretical overreach to say that the rise of the internet has altogether displaced older media. Rather, what characterizes the current state of global media is an increased integration of more traditional channels in a hypermediated environment. We are increasingly witnessing a hybridization of media combining the traditional and the new. How else would we make sense of the footage of Egyptians protesting in public squares, filmed by Al-Jazeera and streamed on its website? If we are to stick to a binary mode of thinking about “old” and “new” media, much would be lost and much would be left unaccounted for. Without actual bodies that communicate dissent there would be nothing to tweet about, a fact that new media enthusiasts often seem to forget. Rather than proving that revolutions will be tweeted or that resistance is increasingly digitalized, the use of new media technologies by political activists demonstrates the historical centrality of communication technologies in all political struggles. Murphy’s case studies show that there is nothing “old” about the use of documentary films and community radio. What make the media discussed in both papers inevitably new are the ways they are interconnected with other local communicative channels and integrated in the global circuit of

information. Moving beyond a technologically deterministic approach, both authors provide an understanding of media as tools of resistance, not as isolated technologies but through their embeddedness in particular socio-political settings and cultural forms of meaning-making. Together, these papers show the multiple shapes and forms of resistance, but also its shifting targets. Local Bolivian activists used community radio to create and diffuse an environmentally conscious local discourse. Chinese activists used Twitter to discuss forbidden topics, from reporting human rights abuses to calling for the overthrow of the Chinese ruling regime. Conversely, we must keep in mind that well-established orders have

also, over time, mastered the art of resistance to socio-political change. A hegemonic system resists challenges to its legitimacy as fiercely as activists create them. In order to fully grasp the dynamics of resistance and social transformation today we must also look at the target-be it the state or global capitalism-and understand its technologies of resistance to change. Following recent popular uprising in Egypt, Chinese authorities banned the word “Egypt” from Chinese online search engines. Great Firewalls are also adaptable to changing tides and the disruptions that threaten to destabilize their orders.