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Activism through feminist understandings of technology, Stefania Milan @Uppsala University

February 12th, 2018, – Stefania Milan presented her work titled “Studying mediated activism through feminist understandings of technology” at the Uppsala University. The presentation is part of the first panel, Intersectionality beyond feminist studies, in the Experiences of Inclusion and Exclusion seminar on Intersectionality. Please find the abstract of her talk below.

Seminar aim

This seminar will focus on intersectionality and how the different forms of discrimination and exclusion combine, overlap, or intersect by examining intersectionality in and beyond feminist studies as well as in political practices. Additionally, the seminar is interested in contributions that expand the concept and praxis of intersectionality in media studies as a tool to analyse the complexity of multiple identities and their relations to power in a mediated social world.

The seminar on intersectionality invites contributions from a wide range of disciplines as well as from activists, civil society, media and public sector to share knowledge, practices, alternatives and ideas on issues related to contextual dynamics of power, inequalities and marginalised communities.

Abstract of talk

Studying activism entails relating to and writing about vulnerable subjects, both groups and individuals. Vulnerability takes many forms, often intersecting known categories of discrimination such as gender, race and sexual orientation and class; what’s more, often activists are subject to surveillance and repression, often perpetrated and/or facilitated through digital technology. Working with vulnerable subjects such as activists calls for setting up appropriate additional safeguards that have consequences, at two levels: ontological/epistemological and ethical/methodological.

While (new) media studies applied to activism have often considered media as an empowering force able to shape activism for the better, feminist theories of technology emerged along the axis of Science and Technology Studies (STS) might help us to take into account as well as contextualize forms of discrimination that exist within and/or are perpetuated through digital technology. This contribution reflects on what can we learn from STS for the study of contemporary activism, with a focus on tech and data activism.