Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
PaperSession-06: Activism
Thursday, 03/Oct/2019:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Christian Ehret
Location: P421
(cap. 220 - fixed seating)

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9:00am - 9:20am

#ResistHudumaNamba: Kenyan Government at a Crossroad

Job Mwaura

University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

In the past few years, Kenya’s digital landscape has transformed and this has been made possible by proliferation of the usage of digital technologies, particularly - mobile phones. Due to increased access to digital technologies, faster internet speeds, increased securitization among other issues, data on individuals in online spaces has also increased. Recently, the government rolled out a National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) which is meant to capture biometric data but this has generated a huge debate online in Kenya under the hashtag #ResistHudumaNamba. This paper will therefore examine the following issues: What has contributed to the decline of trust between the government and its citizens when it comes to internet technologies? What are the actual sentiments given for and against in the introduction of Huduma Number? What are the underlying reasons for continued registration of individuals in Kenya? This research will be a qualitative research study. Data will be generated from social media sites (Twitter and Facebook), as well as blog posts and newspaper articles. A discourse analysis of the events around #ResistsHudumaNamba in these sources will be done so as to answer the research questions. This research has the potential to contribute to literature on trust in sub-Saharan Africa as well as establish trust issues between government and citizens when digital technologies are involved.

9:20am - 9:40am

Networks of Resistance: Exploring the Materiality of Digital Activism in the Ukrainian Conflict

Olga Boichak

University of Sydney

Digital media afford discursive spaces for grassroots resistance and activism, in which participants engage in collaborative production and circulation of narratives and identities online. This project aims to further investigate and complicate the assumptions of virtuality and networked individualism in digital resistance practices by documenting and analyzing a curious case of networked micro-resistance from Ukraine. Covering the timeframe of the past four years, this study offers an ethnographic exploration of networks of micro-resistance that emerged in Ukraine in an effort to counteract Russian occupation. Combining digital ethnography with an in-depth interview with the network’s founder, I apply Melucci’s analytical framework to theorize on the materialities of digital activism, connecting the digital, private, “everyday” practices to the war efforts of states “on the ground”. Pursuing collectively established goals which contradict a neoliberal perspective on ultimately self-interested individuals, “networkers” forged lasting personal relationships rooted in mutual help, building invisible, yet firm foundations for grassroots resistance among their members. Linking the personal with the political, making a masking net became an act of simultaneously digital and physical, public and private, civilian and military, symbolic and material resistance to an existential threat. In a country where social capital has been systematically destroyed by the many decades of the Soviet rule, and where any attempts at collectivization still elicit visceral reactions from the broader public, digital media helped foster the formation of new networks of organized resistance that reached beyond the boundaries of neoliberal capitalism.

9:40am - 10:00am

Laughter out of Place: Affective Homophily and the Absurd Comedy of #MeToo

Jenny Sundén1, Susanna Paasonen2

1Södertörn University, Sweden; 2University of Turku, Finland

This paper investigates the affective and ambiguous dynamics of feminist humor as an unexpected strategy of resistance in connection with #MeToo, asking what laughter may do to the sharpness of negative affects of shame and anger driving the movement. Firstly, we deploy Nanette—Hannah Gadsby’s 2018 Netflix success heralded as the comedy of the #MeToo era—arguing that the uniform viral warmth surrounding the show drives the emergence of networked feminisms through “affective homophily,” or a love of feeling the same. With Nanette, the contagious qualities of laughter are tamed by a networked logic of homophily, allowing for affective intensity while resisting dissent in what is being felt. Secondly, and as a counter force to such sameness, we examine absurd feminist humor trafficking in the unreasonable, illogical, and inappropriate. In considering the unexpected pockets of humor within the #MeToo scandal that ripped apart the prestigious institution of the Swedish Academy in 2018, we explore the emergence of absurdist feminist comedy by zooming in on the figure of the unseemly woman and humor that is knowingly out of tune with both reason and decency. While our first example allows us to argue for the political importance of affective ambiguity, difference, and dissent in social media feminisms, our second example opens up a space for affective release that unpredictable and surprising absurd humour, in combining the illogical with the indecent, affords.

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