Article excerpt

If there is a theme linking many of the reviews in this edition of the JMCQ Bookshelf, it might be new media and public participation. This is fed both by rocketing growth of social media and by their role in helping coalesce the kinds of popular uprisings that brought us the "Arab Spring" and similar movements that have changed the global political complexion over the past eighteen months. From Iran's presidential elections and popular dissent in 2009 to the fall of dictatorial governments across northern Africa (and, perhaps, to the U.S. Occupy movement-although this topic is too new to be included here), questions of how people talk to each other and how societies define themselves are changing more rapidly than we can study them.

Two books reviewed here examine Iran's 2009 elections and the role digital media played in them. Timing is everything, and both these studies may have come just a bit too early. In Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran, Annabelle Sreberny and Gholam Khiabany examine new media's role, but largely before the elections and subsequent upheavals, although they do provide good context to the events of 2009. Purdue University's Yahya R. Kamalipour also may have convened his contributors a bit early in Media, Power, and Politics in the Digital Age: The 2009 Presidential Election and Uprising in Iran, because the protests following the "manufactured voting results" that retained Mahmoud Ahmadenijad and prompted widespread protest were just the beginning of troubles for leaders across the region. …