Omar Al-Ghazzi: Twitter and the Archival Aesthetic
This project explores three Twitter accounts: “Al-Andalus”, “The Umayyad Caliphate” and “The Ottoman Caliphate.” It examines how these accounts promote the history of their respective eras, while also connecting them to present events and to future political aspirations. While each construes their respective eras as originary periods of Arab-Muslim collectivity, they differ on how to interpret their place in the present and what lessons they offer to the contemporary Arab political landscape. However, they all similarly mobilize a digital archival aesthetic for political gain. These Twitter accounts reflect a forked historical consciousness. They were the pasts to be resurrected, while, at the same time, their falls represented cultural and political decline. Within the fractured Arab political environment, many Al-Andaluses, Ottoman and Ummayad caliphates emerged and injected political debate with the force of historical nostalgia as they reshaped participation in history through social media platforms.
Omar Al-Ghazzi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE). Al-Ghazzi’s expertise is in conflict reporting and representation, with a focus on digital media and collective memory in the Middle East and North Africa. Before joining LSE, he was a lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Department of Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Al-Ghazzi completed his PhD at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds MAs in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania and American University and a BA in Communication Arts from the Lebanese American University. A former Fulbright scholar, Al-Ghazzi comes from a professial background of journalism. He has previously worked as a reporter for Al-Hayat Arabic daily and as a media analyst at BBC Monitoring.