Hypermediated politics - Kurds in Western Europe demonstrate against the arrest of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, 1999. Image - BBC News

Insurgency Online


Dr. Michael Dartnell
Department of Political Science,
University of Windsor

Fall 2000


Monday and Wednesday: 11h30 - 12h20.
Classroom: Odette Building, B02.
Office: 1156 Chrysler North, Department of Political Science
Office hrs.: Wed. 12h30 - 13h30, Thurs. 11h30 - 12h30 and 17h - 19h.
Telephone: 253-3000 (xtn. 2361) (office), 739-1979 (home).
E-Mail: mdartne@uwindsor.ca
Webpage: Online Resource Guide to Political Inquiry


The impact of the Internet in international relations appears enormous, but is difficult to apprehend. Insurgency Online treats Internet political communication as one change within a wider post-Cold War political context in which struggle between capitalism and communism is supplanted by a multiplicity of political identities, as in contemporary nationalism and religious movements. One suggestive impact of the Internet is that previously unknown, marginal or illegal movements in specific physical places now articulate themselves to a wider public and are actively transnational. The course looks at some of these movements from the point of view of theory and broad cross-national comparison. It examines how they use the Internet to provide information in their campaigns against governments, which some analysts call "netwar". The aim is to sharpen the focus between such organizations and those who threaten or harass authorities or others through "hacking" or electronic sabotage.


Evaluation and Grades




Each student must submit a two-page commentary of selected readings over each two week period, a total of twelve pages (12 pp.) for the entire course. The purpose of the commentaries is to create a collective learning environment and stimulate class discussion by ensuring that everyone engages assigned materials. Students may chose the specific readings that they use for each commentary. A commentary might synthesize the main arguments made by authors, focus on one text, concentrate on a specific theme in one or more readings or more generally provide a critical response to materials. For this assignment, it is not enough to state that you like or do not like an article or to provide an unsubstantiated criticism (ie. a "rant"). You must give specific reasons for whatever weakness, strength or problem areas you find in the readings. Students must submit their commentaries every second week in type-written form beginning with Week 2 of the course. Commentary grades will be accumulated throughout the term on the basis of the number handed in for this pass-fail assignment. The maximum length of each commentary is two pages. Commentaries longer than two pages will not be accepted.


Paper Proposals, Presentations, and Papers

Undergraduates must submit a 12-15 page research paper one week after their presentations. Graduate students must hand in a 15-20 page research paper one week after their presentations. Students are encourages to choose their own topic with my approval, but a list of topics will be handed out early in the term. In either case, everyone must submit a proposal that outlines their topic, sets out an approach and includes a bibliography (containing three or four book-length references along with several properly cited Websites and three or four articles). If you do not provide me with a proposal, your paper will not be accepted for grading. The paper proposal is worth 10% of your grade.

After approval, your paper topic will serve as the basis for a fifteen-minute class presentation. Presentations provide an opportunity to test your ideas and research. Each presentation must include three questions that are the hypotheses for your research. You will choose a date for your presentation early in the term.

Proposals, presentations and papers provide a structure through which you can explore themes/issues that interest you. Your interest might very well change during the course of the seminar. In this case, please discuss your presentation and paper with me.

  • No late papers will be accepted.

  • If it is not clear to you what is expected in commentaries, paper proposals, presentations or papers, please say so in class or directly to me. Do not wait until the date on which the assignment is due (or the evening before).



    Participation and Attendance

    A portion of your grade (10%) is set aside for participation and attendance. Participation means that you show up for class and show that you are following the discussion. Participation marks do not mean showing up for class and "zoning out" nor saying anything that comes to mind. The relevance of comments is subject to evaluation.

    If you miss a class and want to receive credit for the period, you must provide a note from your doctor, university health services or some other appropriate person that explains why you were absent. Failing this, you will not receive marks for that class. You will not receive marks if you do not attend without reasonable justification.


    Final exam

    The final exam is an opportunity to express your understanding of course material in writing and to articulate a perspective. It will focus on terms and concepts used in class and in readings and emphasize essay-type responses. The exam will not try to łtrick˛ you by focusing on non-central material, but may prove difficult if you are not doing the readings. Do not assume that if a concept or term is not covered in class, it will not be on an exam.

  • The final exam will be written on Wed., Dec. 13 at 8h30. Graduate students will write a two-day take-home exam that will be made available at the same time and place.



  • David Ronfeldt, John Arquilla et al, The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico, Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 1998.
  • Critical Art Ensemble, Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other Unpopular Ideas, Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1996.

    Additional readings are on reserve in the library and available on the WWW (if their URL is provided below). Unless otherwise indicated, all readings are required.

    Additional readings may be added during the term at my discretion.


    The WWW is seeing an explosion of electronic publication by a wide variety of political groups. Among the Webpages that students might find of interest are -

  • BURN!.
  • Chechen Republic Online.
  • Electronic Civil Disobedience (archive for the Electronic Disturbance Theatre).
  • Free B92.
  • Free Burma Coalition.
  • Free Tibet Campaign.
  • GayIran.
  • Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ).
  • Help B92.
  • Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).
  • Kurdish Information Network.
  • MED-TV (Kurdish Satellite Television).
  • Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
  • Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
  • Zapatistas in Cyberspace (Harry Cleaver).

    Remember: mdartne@uwindsor.ca is a fast and effective way to get in touch with me!




    1. Information, Security and War

    Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and William Owens, "America's Information Edge", Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, No. 2, pp. 20-36.
    Eliot A. Cohen, "A Revolution in Warfare", Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, No. 2, pp. 37-54.
    Chris Hables Gray, "Real Cyberwar" and "Computers at War: Kuwait 1991", Postmodern War: The New Politics of Conflict, New York: The Guilford Press, 1997, pp. 19-35 and 36-50.
    United States Space Command (USSPACECOM).
    BBC News - "War of words on the Internet" (Lawrence Peter, Oct. 25, 1998) and "US crackdown on cyber-terrorism" (Jan. 7, 2000).

    Hakim Bey, The Information War, CTheory, 1995.

    2. Theorizing Netwar: Security Perspective

    John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, "Cyberwar is Coming!", Comparative Strategy, Vol. 12, No. 2, 1993, pp. 141-165.
    Arquilla and Ronfeldt, The Advent of Netwar, Rand, 1996, chaps. 1-3, pp. 1-46.
    BBC News - "Med TV: 'Kurdistan in the sky'", (Peter Feuilherade, Feb. 16, 1999), "Europe's well-connected Kurds", (Pam O'Toole, Feb. 23, 1999), "UK regulator suspends Med TV over violent calls", (Mar. 22, 1999), and "Kurdish TV station closed down" (Mar. 23, 1999).
    Tim McGirk, "Wired for Warfare", Time Magazine, Oct. 11, 1999, Vol., 154, No. 15.

    3. Theorizing Netwar: Practitioners' Perspective

    Critical Art Ensemble, Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other Unpopular Ideas, Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1996, chaps. 1-2, pp. 7-56.
    Critical Art Ensemble, "Introduction: The Virtual Condition", and "Nomadic Power and Cultural Resistance", The Electronic Disturbance, Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1994, pp. 3-34.
    Critical Art Ensemble.

    4. The Zapatistas (EZLN) I

    Arquilla and Ronfeldt, The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico, Rand, 1998, chaps. 1-3, pp. 1-44.
    Ricardo Dominguez, "Electronic Zapatismo" CTheory, Jan. 21, 1998.
    Dominguez, "The Ante-Chamber of Revolution - A Prelude to a Theory of Resistance and Maps" CTheory, Nov. 18, 1998.
    "YA BASTA!" (Zapatista National Liberation Army Website).

    Judith Adler Hellman, "Real and Virtual Chiapas: Magic Realism and the Left", Socialist Register, SR 2000, "Necessary and Unnecessary Utopias".

    5. The Zapatistas II

    Arquilla and Ronfeldt, The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico, Rand, 1998, chaps. 4-6, pp. 45-112.
    Harry Cleaver, "The Zapatistas and the International Circulation of Struggle: Lessons Suggested and Problems Raised", 1998.
    BBC News, "Internet increases global inequality, says UN".
    Matthew Broersma, "Zapatista supporters, US, Mexico clash in bloodless 'Infowar' era protest", ZDNet,Sept. 9, 1998.

    Harry Cleaver, "The Zapatistas and the Electronic Fabric of Struggle", November 1995.


    6. The Internet and Geo-political Dislocation

    Critical Art Ensemble, Electronic Civil Disobedience, chaps. 3-5, pp. 57-112.
    Olu Oguibe, "Forsaken Geographies - Cyberspace and the New World 'Other'", 5th International Cyberspace Conference, Madrid, June 1996.
    Human Rights Watch, "The Internet in the Mideast and North Africa".

    U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Understanding the Digital Economy.

    7. The Net Gets Regional

    Critical Art Ensemble, The Electronic Disturbance, Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1994, chaps. 3-4, pp. 35-82.
    Tedjabayu, "INDONESIA: The Net as a Weapon", Cybersociology Magazine, Issue Five, April 1999.
    East Timor Action Network / US (ETAN), and ETAN Canada.
    Chris Nutall, "Virtual country 'nuked' on Net", Jan. 26, 1999, BBC News.


    8. The Regional Goes Global

    Critical Art Ensemble, The Electronic Disturbance, Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1994, chaps. 5-6, pp. 83-128.
    Tim Jordan, "Cyberpower and the Meaning of Online Activism", Cybersociology Magazine, Issue Five, April 1999.
    Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).
    Kurdish Information Network.

    Michael Dartnell, Place, naming and power, March 12, 2000.
    aka KURDISTAN.
    The Siege and Commune of Paris, 1870-1871 (Northwestern University Library - Special Collections).
    Political Wall Murals in Northern Ireland (CAIN Project, University of Ulster).
    Oona Woods, "Seeing is Believing? Murals in Derry", in Seeing is Believing? Murals in Derry (1995).
    Neil Jarman, Painting Landscapes: The Place of Murals in the Symbolic Construction of Urban Space, in Symbols in Northern Ireland (Edited by Anthony Buckley, The Queen's University of Belfast, 1998).
    The Bogside Artists.

    9. Physical Authoritarians vs. Virtual Libertarians

    Jason Wehling, "Netwars and Activists' Power on the Internet", March 1995.
    Drazen Pantic, "Internet in Serbia: From the Dark Side of the Moon to Internet Revolution" First Monday, 1997.
    Motohiro Tsuchiya, "Regional Conflict and the Internet: World Wide Web Saved Kosovo?", International University of Japan, July 14, 1999.
    Free B92.
    Help B92.

    Insurgency Online project resources, Kosova and Serbia.
    Alternative Information Network in former Yugoslavia (AIM).
    INCORE guide to Internet sources on conflict and ethnicity in Serbia and Montenegro (University of Ulster).
    Wired News, "'Cyberwar' in Liberia, March 17, 2000.

    10. Digital Alternatives?

    Harry Cleaver, "The Zapatista Effect: The Internet and the Rise of an Alternative Political Fabric", Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 51, No. 2, Spring 1998, pp. 621-640.
    Stefan Wray, "Electronic Civil Disobedience and the World Wide Web of Hacktivism: A Mapping of Extraparliamentarian Direct Action Net Politics", paper for The World Wide Web and Contemporary Cultural Theory Conference, Drake University, November 1998.
    Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
    Taleban Islamic Movement of Afghanistan.


    11. Electronic Civil Conflict

    Stefan Wray, "On Electronic Civil Disobedience", Peace Review, 11, no. 1, 1999.
    Michael Dartnell, "Insurgency Online: http://burn.ucsd.edu/~ats/mrta.htm", 1999.
    MRTA (Tupac Amaru) Solidarity Page.


    Arquilla and Ronfeldt, The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico, Rand, 1998, chap. 7 and appendices A and B, pp. 113-154.
    Critical Art Ensemble, Electronic Civil Disobedience, chap. 6 and "Epilogue", pp. 113-139.
    Critical Art Ensemble, The Electronic Disturbance, Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1994, chaps. 5-6, pp. 129-146.
    Jesse Berst, "Backlash: Littleton Tragedy Jolts Internet Future", ZDNet, April 30, 1999.

  • Final exam : Wed., Dec. 13 at 8h30.



    | Insurgency Online Webpage | Online Resource Guide to Political Inquiry |

    Questions? Please contact Michael Dartnell at: mdartne@uwindsor.ca.