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(GEND) Body Politics and Digital Activism


InstitutionFreie Universität Berlin
SemesterWiSe 20
Beginn02.11.2020 | 10:00
Ende22.02.2021 | 12:00

The role of internet and its disembodied nature has a marked relevance in the way feminist activism and feminist politics are played out in the current times, so that it is impossible to separate current feminist activism from its relation with the digital space. However, in the feminist articulations that emerge from this relation, the body as a political arena plays a crucial role. Through processes that politicise materiality and embodiment, digital feminists open the space for reclaiming the political function of the female body. This course focuses on the the political practices around the body that shape and inform a variety of current digital feminist activist movements. Although most of these movements have transnational and translocal manifestations, by focusing on the body we are able to elucidate the relations and tensions between the global reach offered by the digital possibilities and the locally experienced body politics that serve as a motor for political actions. Furthermore, since categories such as ethnicity, class, sexual identity and age are simultaneously marked out on the body they influence not only the cultural, social, economic and political, but also digital positionings. In this course we will start by summarizing the discussions on the feminist concept of embodiment and reconstructing how the embodied experience of the female body became an entry point for political (digital) engagement. We will continue by examining the role of digital media in affecting the particular ways that contemporary feminist protests produce meaning and are understood transnationally, nationally, and locally. For this, we will focus on current and pressing political issues, such as sexuality policing, reproductive rights, sexual division of labour, care and reproductive work, sex work, migration and gender violence and its repercussions in digital media. A big emphasis will be placed on the following questions: Which power relations regulate, denigrate, define, or produce the body in the context of digital feminisms? What is the relation between digital feminisms and the oppressive nature of neoliberalism in relation to the body? To what extent is it possible to speak of a precariousness of digital feminism? What possibilities do digital feminisms offer for new subjectivities and the overcoming of social injustices? The seminar is conceived as a hands-on experience for the students, in which they will engage with and critically analyse concrete examples of body politics and interventions in digital feminist activism. As a special treat, the course will receive constant valuable inputs and contributions from Dr. Sabina García Peter, digitalisation expert of the Margherita von Brentano Center for Gender Studies at Freie Universität Berlin.

SFB 700