Anthropological Quarterly is a publication of

 The George Washington University

   Institute for Ethnographic Research

phone: 202-994-3215  e-mail:


2110 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052


Pirates and Piracy: Broadly Conceived


Introduced and Edited by Alexander Sebastian Dent

Volume 85, #3

Summer 2012

To download full articles please subscribe online through Project Muse, ProQuest, or EBSCO. To puchase individual articles (without a subscription) please visit JSTOR.


Volume 85, #3 • Summer 2012



Social Thought & Commentary on Digital Militancy in Context


Social Buzz, Political Boom? Ethnographic Engagements with Digital Militancy

Alex Fattal, Harvard University


StateTube: Anthropological Reflections on Social Media and the Israeli State

Rebecca L. Stein, Duke University


Interview with Alaa Abd al-Fattah, Tahrir Square, 12 pm, July 19th

Charles Hirschkind, University of California, Berkeley

ABSTRACT — Alaa Abd al-Fattah has been an important contributor to Egypt’s pro-democracy movement since the early 2000s. Drawing on his technological expertise as a software developer, he played a pioneering role in shaping the online infrastructure of activism and contestation that had a crucial part in the uprising that brought down the Mubarak regime. A prominent blogger in his own right, his perhaps most significant contribution to the democracy movement lies in the assistance he has provided to other bloggers and activists in finding ways to make their voices heard. The “Egyptian Blogs Aggregator,” a key hub for Egypt’s political bloggers that Alaa founded together with his wife Manal Hassan, is only one of many efforts he has made on behalf of Egyptian democracy activists.


Facebook: Corporate Hackers, a Billion Users, and the Geo-politics of the “Social Graph”

Alex Fattal, Harvard University

ABSTRACT — As Facebook moves to a new office space, consolidates its growth internationally, and sculpts its corporate identity, it navigates contradictions between the attempt to preserve ideals associated with the company’s founding and the demands of global growth. Through an ethnographic snapshot of Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California I explore the company’s expansion toward one billion users and its efforts to dominate the few national markets in which competitors still have the upper hand. I argue that Facebook combines technical and geopolitical savvy by using cross-network pressure and the soft power of user data, or what it calls “the social graph,” to win the market-share wars. These realpolitik demands trump the impulse to reproduce Facebook’s idealistic origins outside the realm of its carefully crafted “corporate culture,” performed meticulously in the company’s office design. [Keywords: Facebook, corporate culture, social media, media politics, corporate hackers, corporate culture, Facebook social graph, Facebook corporate culture, Facebook company culture]