Media, techno-political action & social justice symposium: A partial reader

Along with some of my favorite Annenberg doc students and alums, I headed to Rutgers for a symposium called Media, Techno-political Action and Social Justice.  There were a lot of really terrific speakers there, presenting work on social movements, digital culture and media making. I found myself taking lots of notes during the talks, and wound up with a *ton* of books and articles to add to my to-read list. I also learned about some really exciting activist projects related to media and digital culture. Rather than a report back, I thought I’d share some of the authors and activist projects referenced during the symposium sessions. 

During her talk on media activism during armed conflict, Clemencia Rodriguez gave glowing praise to work from Merlyna Lim, who is a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Digital Media and Global Network Society.  I wasn’t able to track down the specific talk that Rodriguez mentioned, but am excited to add the paper below to my reading list for thinking critically about space and protest.

Chris Robé gave us a sense of the extended history of video activism, and shared some of his work on El Grito de Sunset Park, which provides a platform on which to express and document the experiences of marginalized communities by encouraging civic engagement to protect human rights.  I got to know El Grito a little bit during Occupy, but hadn’t kept up with their current work, which involves (among other things) legal clinics and speakouts about police violence.

I loved Anna Feigenbaum’s opening question, what can be done with a media studies that thinks beyond taken-for-granted media devices? She made some shrewd observations about the need for communication and media studies to take a wider view of its field of study, citing geography as a discipline that has opened itself to a wide range of scholarship.  I’m looking forward to reading her book on the history of tear gas, and there’s also a great co-authored paper that introduces some of her key questions.  Feigenbaum shared her work on Riot ID, a project that helps people identify, monitor and record the use of riot control against civilians. 

Erika Polson presented work on the feminization of expat labor, drawing on fieldwork in Bangalore.  I am a sucker for research that draws on participatory mapping, so I’m looking forward to reading a paper she cited by Shilpa Phadke about differences between how men and women move through public space in Mumbai.

Remember how great Charles Tilly’s work on crowds is?  Paolo Gerbaudo does. Having followed Gerbaudo’s work on digital media, social movements and political ethics for some time, it was great to hear him synthesize some of his ideas about populism, participation and activism.


Partial bibliography:

Feigenbaum, A. (2016). Tear gas: The making of a peaceful poison. NewYork, NY: Verso.

Feigenbaum, A., & Kanngieser, A. (2015). For a politics of atmospheric governance. Dialogues in Human Geography, 5(1), 80-84.

Lim, M. (2014). Seeing spatially: People, networks and movements in digital and urban spaces. International Development Planning Review, 36(1), 51-72. 10.3828/idpr.2014.4

Phadke, S. (2012). Gendered usage of public spaces: a case study of Mumbai. The Fear That Stalks: Gender-based Violence in Public Spaces. New Delhi: Zubaan, 51, 80.

Tilly, C. (2000). Spaces of contention. Mobilization: An International Quarterly, 5(2), 135-159.

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