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Azawad’s Facebook Warriors

The MNLA, Social Media, and the Malian Civil War


Michael Keen

In January 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a group dominated by members of the Tuareg ethnic group, launched a military uprising seeking the independence of Mali’s vast but sparsely populated north as the democratic, secular nation-state of Azawad.  Azawad’s Facebook Warriors tells the extraordinary story of a small group of social media activists who sought to broadcast the MNLA’s cause to the world. Azawad’s Facebook Warriors offers a groundbreaking new study of the MNLA’s use of social media through the original analysis of more than 8,000 pro-MNLA Facebook posts published over a four-year period and interviews with key architects of the MNLA’s media strategy. The book further places the MNLA’s social media activism in context through a nuanced treatment of northern Mali’s history and an unparalleled blow-by-blow account of the MNLA’s role in the Malian civil war from 2012 through 2015. More broadly, through the case study of the MNLA, the book argues that studying rebel social media communications, a field that has until now unfortunately received scant scholarly attention, will prove an increasingly important tool in understanding rebel groups in coming years and decades.
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Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Key Acronyms


Chapter 1:Repression, Rebellion, and Nationalism: Northern Mali/Azawad Through 2011

Chapter 2:War and Peace in Northern Mali/Azawad: The MNLA, October 2011–December 2015

Chapter 3:The MNLA on Facebook: Social Media Outreach by the Numbers

Chapter 4:A Comparative Look at the MNLA’s Use of Social Media

Chapter 5:Dominant Pro-MNLA Discourse Frames and Identity on Facebook

Chapter 6:Sacred Visual Motifs in Pro-MNLA Facebook Discourse

Chapter 7:Mali Since 2015: A Failing Peace Process and the Death of the MNLA’s Ideology

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