South Asian Media Cultures: Audiences, Representations, Contexts is finally out. Edited by Shakuntala Banaji, the book features a chapter written by me titled Expanding the Art of the Possible: Leveraging Citizen Journalism and User Generated Content (USG) for Peace in Sri Lanka. It is one of two essays in the tome dealing with media in Sri Lanka, with other focussing on teledramas by Dr. Neluka Silva, Head of the Dept of English, University of Colombo.
As I note at the end of my chapter,
This discussion on the potential of new media, the web and the Internet to transform policies and practices of illiberal democracy isn’t, as yet, one that has traction amongst many people in Sri Lanka. Millions of people live without any awareness of the Internet or its potential for social change. There are arguably more pressing social issues in some regions than the digital divide – including the ravages of terrorism. However, the terrains of violence and conflict also hold within them the possibilities of democratic dialogue mediated through the Internet and mobile phones in particular… Animating the potential of new media and the Internet is the promise of a vibrant democracy. A vibrant democracy in turn is nourished by a culture of open discussion on core issues of governance and as they are felt by citizens in all regions of a country. This symbiosis between democracy and dialogue, between new media and its influence on progressive social policy, between the promise of the Internet to empower communities and the appropriation of ICT by communities to strengthen their engagement with justice and peace, is a qualitative and quantitative measurement of the health of democracy in Sri Lanka.