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Anita Gohdes discusses her new book on Digital Repression on Elliott School’s POMEPS Podcast

In this podcast interview, Professor Anita Gohdes and Marc Lynch delve into the intersection of digital technology and traditional state violence.  

In the newest POMEPS podcast episode at the Elliott School, Professor Anita Gohdes offered insights from her latest book, "Repression in the Digital Age: Surveillance, Censorship, and the Dynamics of State Violence." Professor Gohdes dissected the intersection of digital technology and state-led violence. Her decade-long research reveals how authoritarian regimes integrate digital tools like surveillance, censorship and internet shutdowns into their repressive strategies, supporting traditional methods of state violence. Professor Gohdes explained how her findings suggest a reality, where digital repression augments state power, rather than replacing conventional forms. The book's focus on state actors underscores the transformation of state capacity in the digital era. 

Discussing Syria, Gohdes noted that Internet shutdowns typically accompany military offensives, contradicting theories that shutdowns prevent violence. Instead, they correlate with increased aggression, particularly with indiscriminate violence. Gohdes’ analysis also showed that states incur costs with shutdowns, losing surveillance capabilities and risking economic and political backlash. In the broader context, Gohdes emphasized the role of digital infrastructure in authoritarian control. She also highlights how political scientists must pay attention to digital security, advocating for careful management of sensitive data amid changing political landscapes. 

The podcast underscored the critical need for understanding digital repression's role in state violence, urging scholars and policymakers to consider the intertwined nature of online and offline environments. 

Have a listen to the full episode here or on any of your favorite platforms.  

More about the author

  • Anita Gohdes, Professor of International and Cyber Security