Coordinator: Ebba Tellander

Media are important strategic channels for actors within conflict, peace, security and social processes – including governments, politicians, rebel groups, humanitarian aid organizations, and terrorists. Mass media, traditional media, digital media and ‘new media’ are platforms where actors try to harness media in their battle for winning 'hearts and minds'. But how do actors engage with their media environments? Do they see it merely as a platform? And how do media platforms affect social processes? Can media be a facilitator of change, or continuance? Of violence, or peace? 

The Media research group seeks a holistic research approach that furthers critical debate on how media function as mediators, facilitators, and interpreters of conflict, crises and social dynamics, both locally and internationally. Our approach includes both traditional media (television, radio, digital and print) and 'new media' such as Facebook and Twitter.
Our research is focused around three main themes:

1.      Media as platforms for discourses

National and international media landscapes both influence and are influenced by political agendas. Media play a role in shaping identities, and they contribute to inclusionary and exclusionary processes and social change. Methods for researching media are tools that enable researchers to understand such media ‘effects’. Regarding media as platforms for discourses is useful to observe agendas and discourses, be informed about societal events and processes, and analyze the interrelations between media and social dynamics.

2.      Media as agents in war, conflict and crisis

Wars, conflicts, and crises are influenced by media – whether local, national, or international. Media can be used by conflict actors to sustain conflict or sell war rationales, or by non-violent peace activists in their attempt to end war. They can contribute to making such processes visible, or even credible, to a large audience. Extensive coverage through an ever increasing number of 24-hour media networks can shape citizens' perceptions of which crises are important. Aid actors can use media to raise public pressure to 'do something' in times of crisis. Media play a role in affecting societal processes and social structures in times of war, conflict and crisis.

3.      'New media' as platforms for mobilization

'New media', as platforms that allow open participation, are increasingly used to mobilize and influence societal outcomes. Examples of such media are blogs, Wikipedia, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. What has come to be known as the Arab Spring demonstrated the power of new media, as ordinary citizens used their access to virtual social networks in protesting against authorities. The question of whether such efforts are replicable, now that governments are aware of the (perceived) power of new media, remains.  Furthermore, new media can function as platforms for security policies or the establishment of a sense of post-disaster community at the grassroots level.


Recent publications

Høigilt, Jacob; & Gunvor Mejdell, eds, (2017) The Politics of Written Language in the Arab World: Writing Change. Leiden: Brill. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics.

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Høigilt, Jacob (2017) Egyptian Comics and the Challenge to Patriarchal Authoritarianism, International Journal of Middle East Studies 49(1): 111–131.
Fangen, Katrine & Åshild Kolås (2016) The "Syria traveller": Reintegration or legal sanctioning?, Critical Studies on Terrorism 9(3): 414–432.
Gilboa, Eytan; Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert; Jason Miklian & Piers Robinson (2016) Moving Media and Conflict Studies Beyond the CNN Effect, Review of International Studies 42(4): 654–672.
Miklian, Jason (2015) India's Dangerous Digital Curfews, Foreign Policy(12).
Kaufmann, Mareile (2015) Resilience 2.0: social media use and (self-)care during the 2011 Norway attacks, Media, Culture & Society 37(7): 972–987.
Kaufmann, Mareile (2015) Exercising emergencies: Resilience, affect and acting out security, Security Dialogue 47(2): 99–116.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen & David Lanz (2013) Globalised Rebellion: The Darfur insurgents and the world, Journal of Modern African Studies 51(2): 193–217.
Kolås, Åshild (2010) The 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks: (Re-)Constructing Indian (Counter-)Terrorism, Critical Studies on Terrorism 3(1): 83–98.
Miklian, Jason (2008) International Media’s Role on US-Small State Relations: The Case of Nepal, Foreign Policy Analysis 4(4): 399–418.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2007) La Sécurité humaine et l’internationalisation des conflits intra-étatiques : le cas du conflit au Sud-Soudan [Human security and the internationalization of intra-state conflicts: the case of the conflict in South Sudan], Human Security Journal 3(2).

PhD Thesis

Kaufmann, Mareile (2016) Resilience - governance and in/security in interconnected societies. PhD thesis, Criminology, Hamburg University.

Book Chapter

Erdal, Marta Bivand & Rojan Ezzati (2013) Når ute også er hjemme. Migrasjon og utenrikspolitikk, in Weltzien, Åsmund; & Odd Mølster, eds, Norge Og Det Nye Verdenskartet. Oslo: Cappelen Damm (58–79).
Ezzati, Rojan Tordhol (2011) 'Alle ser på oss som utlendinger uansett': Selvbilder og andre bilder av unge menn med muslimsk bakgrunn etter 11. september 2001, in Eriksen, Thomas Hylland; & Hans Erik Næss, eds, Kulturell kompleksitet i det nye Norge. Oslo: Unipub (57–67).

Edited Volume

Høigilt, Jacob; & Gunvor Mejdell, eds, (2017) The Politics of Written Language in the Arab World: Writing Change. Leiden: Brill. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics.

Popular Article

Ezzati, Rojan Tordhol (2016) Fellesskap i terrorens tid [A sense of community in times of terror], Dagsavisen, 20 July.
Syse, Henrik (2015) Fire år etter terroren: De viktige debattene [Four years after the terror: The important debates], VG, 22.07.2015, 22 July.
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Rojan Tordhol Ezzati (2015) Når blir du norsk? [When do you become Norwegian?], Aftenposten, 8 May.
Jumbert, Maria Gabrielsen (2015) Terroraksjoner i sosiale medier [Terror attacks in social media], Dagbladet, 14 April.
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Rojan Tordhol Ezzati (2015) Evig innvandrer, aldri norsk [Eternal immigrant, never Norwegian], Bergens Tidende, 22 January.
Syse, Henrik & Odin Lysaker (2014) Slik får vi en anstendig debatt, Aftenposten, 22. september, 22 September.
Lysaker, Odin & Henrik Syse (2013) Ingen ytringsfrihet uten etikk [No freedom of speech without ethics], Aftenposten, 29 mai, 29 May.
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Rojan Tordhol Ezzati (2013) Norge og det nye verdenskartet [Norway and the new world map], Dagsavisen, 22 May.
Ezzati, Rojan Tordhol (2011) Fragmentering i terrorens tid [Fragmentation in the Time of Terror], Dagsavisen, 2 August.
Ezzati, Rojan Tordhol (2010) Kravet om forklaring, Dagsavisen, 14 July.

Master Thesis

Jacobsen, Elida Kristine Undrum (2007) Norwegian Media Discourses and the Middle-Eastern Other. Identity and Security.Universitat Jaume 1, .
Jacobsen, Elida K. U. (2007) Norwegian Media Discourses and the Middle-Eastern Other. Identity and Security. MA thesis, Universitat Jaume 1, Castellón: Universitat Jaume 1.

Conference Paper

Jacobsen, Elida Kristine Undrum 2008 Media Coverage of Islam, presented at Popular Lecture. Oslo: HL Senteret, , .
Jacobsen, Elida K. U. (2008) 'Our' values and the 'Other': The West, Islam, and (Counter) Discourses of Enmity in the Mass-Media, presented at Propaganda: War and Biopolitics, HL senteret; Oslo, 22 October.

PRIO Policy Brief

Erdal, Marta Bivand & Rojan Tordhol Ezzati (2015) Alder, botid og livsfase: Integrering i et tidsperspektiv [Norwegian version], PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Rojan Tordhol Ezzati (2015) Age, life cycle, and length of stay: temporal perspectives on integration [English version], PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).
Rasmussen , Joel & Øyvind Ihlen (2015) Lessons from Norwegian Emergency Authorities’ Use of Social Media, PRIO Policy Brief, 14. Oslo: PRIO.

Book Review

Blog Posts

Performing Grief

Posted by Francis Steen on Friday, 21 July 2017

As we discuss the relationship between public and private mourning and grief, consider the emotional handling of the Newtown school shooting in 2012, where twenty children were killed at Sandy Hook elementary school. Such a traumatic event destabilizes people, creating a felt deficit in emotional support. When President Obama visited the community, his role was clear: he needed to voice strongly the entire nation’s support for the affected community. Newspapers reported factually on the visit, quoting parts of the speech, but leaving it up to the reader to respond emotionally. Television, by contrast, revealed itself to be a far more ...

How comics can make the Arab world a better place

Posted by Jacob Høigilt on Saturday, 6 May 2017

Most Arab countries today are governed by more or less authoritarian regimes that nourish a patriarchal social and political order. This order marginalizes young people, and particularly women. There are moments when it is openly challenged. We saw it across the Arab world in 2011 and afterwards. Several art forms contributed to this open conflict, and among them were independent adult comics – a cultural phenomenon that really took off during the Arab uprisings and afterwards. I think this is a medium that deserves more attention, because it shows how central cultural products can be to make sense of political ...

Trump and Threats to Truth, Democracy and Peace

Posted by Stein Tønnesson on Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Stein Tønnesson delivered this year’s The Fjord Memorial Lecture  at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Lillehammer. The lecture discusses Trump’s team of advisors, calls for fighting the increasing use of lies in political campaigning, sees Trump’s election as having weakened democracy worldwide, and perceives a major risk to world peace. Tønnesson ends the lecture with four scenarios for how Trump’s foreign policy may develop: chaos, status quo, lucky bargaining, or war. Oh Mr Fjord, – it feels strange that you’re fictional while Donald Trump is real. You, the trainee reporter at the Norwegian local newspaper The Dawn [Dagningen]; the ...

On Bullshit and Research

Posted by Torkel Brekke on Monday, 23 January 2017

Researchers who write articles or give interviews must be given approval rights over how their material is presented. My year as an academic has been bookended by a couple of awkward encounters between my own research and a new media reality. The year has also provided a rich crop of angry messages from strangers in my inbox, but I will not discuss those here. Is there something dysfunctional in the relationship between research, the media and the general public? For my part, the problem started when the University of Oslo’s Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX) opened in April. I ...

A Bug in the System

Posted by Marte Heian-Engdal on Friday, 2 September 2016

Palestine does not exist on the map and is also not easy to find in the jam-packed schedules of diplomats working with the Middle East. A Twitter storm was unleashed a couple of weeks ago when rumours spread among pro-Palestinian activists that Google had removed Palestine from its mapping service. The internet ignited as only the internet can. The hashtag #PalestineisHere went viral, accompanied by demands that Google reinstate Palestine on its map. It turned out, as happens from time to time, that the rumour mill was quite simply ill-informed. Google rejected the story. It had certainly not deleted Palestine ...

From the House of Cards to House of Data?

Posted by Rocco Bellanova on Thursday, 10 March 2016

The fourth season of the Netflix series House of Cards was released worldwide on the 4th March. Which is to say, the week-end when many International Relations (IR) researchers are still rushing to finalize their conference paper for the annual convention of the International Studies Association (ISA). And, if you are reading this post, you are probably feeling guilty for having spent the weekend binge-watching the series, instead of reworking your draft one more time. I certainly do. However, as the series teaches us again and again, we should not let guilt rule us. Better run ahead, even if this ...

Is Apple the New Global Dictator?

Posted by Hanne Eggen Røislien & Bjarte Malmedal on Friday, 26 February 2016

Apple, CISCO and Microsoft rule the world, and intend to do so. Imagine if CISCO or Apple held a general election. Billboards with potential board members smiling at us with an apple in one hand and a ballot in the other. Anyone who owns a computer or an iPad or a smartphone would be legitimate voters in the election. The ballot boxes would probably be flash and fancy. No paper involved. We would cast our ballots by pushing a button or using just our fingerprint or perhaps another way of casting a ballot that as of 2016 is not yet ...

Segregation Kills: How Social Media Fuels Violence in African States

Posted by Camber Warren on Monday, 9 November 2015

Pundits and academics alike tell us that we are supremely fortunate to be living in a new “information age.” However, new findings which I present in an article in a Journal of Peace Research special issue paint a far more complicated picture of the consequences of increased human connectivity. Ours is certainly not an age of civil peace. At this moment, neighbors are killing neighbors, in organized groups, in ongoing civil conflicts spanning at least 36 separate countries. Such violence is shocking in its brutality; but through our revulsion we tend to forget that in each of these conflicts, the ...

When Internet Access Becomes a Weapon

Posted by Anita Gohdes on Monday, 26 October 2015

Social Media has rightly been celebrated as an empowering tool for ordinary citizens to mobilize against repressive rulers, and make marginalized voices heard. But a crucial question remains unanswered: why should power-hungry states, with de facto control over access to the Internet, impassively concede to defeat? The simple answer is: they do not. Behind the scenes, autocratic governments across the world have been extremely active in developing and refining a whole arsenal of tools to surveil, manipulate and censor the digital flow of information in their own country. The ongoing civil war in Syria that has claimed hundreds of thousands of ...

Refugees are Also Migrants. And All Migrants Matter

Posted by Jørgen Carling on Monday, 7 September 2015

The recent debate over word choice has taken turns that undermine humanitarian principles and cloud the view of how migration is unfolding. The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC, and others have examined the usage of ‘refugees’ versus ‘migrants’ over the past week. The general impression is that ‘migrants’ are being thrown to the wolves. The most insidious contribution, sadly, comes from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But first, the origins of the current debate: in mid-August 2015, Al Jazeera announced that the network will no longer refer to ‘migrants’ in the Mediterranean. ...

Social Media Responses to this Winter’s Terror Attacks

Posted by Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert on Thursday, 23 April 2015

Social media have brought Kenya into focus recently, with people’s reactions to the attack at the University of Garissa spreading on Facebook and Twitter. Social media users have been sharing an image of a candle against a black background, accompanied by the single word “Kenya”. In this way they have demonstrated sympathy for the 148 victims and show that they care. The reactions have been not only to the actual attack, but also to the fact that there was relatively little international attention to it when it happened. Relatively is the crucial word in this context. The massive social media ...

Paving the Road to Democracy or Unleashing Big Brother? The Internet under Dictatorships

Posted by Espen Geelmuyden Rød on Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Today almost half of China’s 1.3 billion inhabitants are online, along with 85 million Russians and 17 million Saudis. The proportion of people with Internet access in these countries will soon be comparable to that of the United States, Germany and Japan. But what are the political consequences of allowing people living in dictatorships Internet access? This question has been hotly debated in recent years and for good reason. Access to the Internet fundamentally changes the way people obtain information and communicate with each other. Since authoritarian governments rely on controlling the information flow and restrictions on communication to stay ...

Dial ICT for Conflict? Four Lessons on Conflict and Contention in the Info Age

Posted by Jason Lyall, Nils B. Weidmann & Allan Dafoe on Thursday, 26 February 2015

The past decade has witnessed an explosion of interest among political scientists in the outbreak and dynamics of civil wars. Much of this research has been facilitated by the rise of electronic media, including newspapers but extending to social media (Twitter, Facebook) that permit the collection of fine-grained data on patterns of civil war violence. At the same time, a parallel research program has emerged that centers on the effects of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Yet these two research efforts rarely intersect. It is, however, likely that social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are intensifying, if not ...

Who is Charlie? And What Now?

Posted by Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert on Tuesday, 13 January 2015

On Sunday 11 January France witnessed the largest rally on records of people taking to the streets with close to 4 million people all over the country, of which almost 1,5 million in Paris. The world saw one of the largest gatherings of state leaders in one place outside of those we witness during the annual UN General Assemblies, in what was reportedly a nightmare for the security services. Prior to this, the social media sphere saw one of the largest spreads of a hashtag, with more than 3,4 million #jesuischarlie in less than 24 hours. So who is this ...

The Limits of post-22 July Media Debates

Posted by Tine Ustad Figenschou & Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud on Friday, 27 June 2014

In times of crisis, citizens and victims typically look to the government for leadership, protection, direction, and order – what is often characterized as a ‘master narrative’. Faced with terror and tragedy journalists seek to comfort and reassure the public, and willingly and instinctively move from their professional, neutral critical role towards a pastoral role. Based on in-depth research interviews with key debate editors and political editors in national, regional, and niche media, we are interested in how the Oslo attacks have been discussed in Norwegian newspaper and television news: what aspects of the tragedy have been investigated, and perhaps ...

Ethical Challenges of Internet Research on 22/7

Posted by Mareile Kaufmann on Tuesday, 25 June 2013

For my research on post-22/7 resilience and social media, I am drawing on data sources from the internet. Even though this data is publicly available, there are several ethical issues to be considered. A core controversy of internet-based research is the definition of public and private space: speakers may assume privacy online, which is not necessarily the case. Due to the use of screen names, it is for example impossible to guarantee that data was not produced by minors. In order to protect research subjects, it would seem feasible to consistently anonymize data. Some speakers, on the other hand, consider ...