Changing Media Changing Feminisms: Contemporary Queer and Feminist Activism in Britain (and Beyond)
The project examines the use of new technologies for the production and circulation of activist media by contemporary queer/feminist activists in Britain. The focus is on new networking conditions created by new media and their incorporation by queer/feminist activists. I am interested in how the experience of producing ephemeral media with new technologies is different from earlier forms, for example zines, and how the capability of digital archiving and sharing shapes production attitudes, form and content. Moreover, I aim to understand how activists interact with commercial media strategies like advertising. What kind of cultural capital and media literacy is needed by activists and to what cultural/political collective memories do they speak? My corpus is the work of groups and individuals, their attitudes and practices. The centrality of digital technologies in everyday life reconfigures gendered identities and sexualities. The meaning of activism and social change, gender equality and feminism are shifting and it is this dynamic inter-relation that the project examines. It investigates what digital networking means for queer/feminist activists by arguing that, it is not just the everyday integration of media technologies, but the changing perceptions around technology, gender and social change that needs to be studied. The point is not to investigate queer/feminist activists as users of digital media, but to understand how their interaction with technologies (visual, audio, print, narration, dialogic, virtual, artistic) shapes the materiality of these mediation technologies. I therefore aim to make sense of emerging practices within new media landscapes and to imagine future directions. The framing questions are initially interested in definitions, continuities and dynamics of digital media practice and feminisms. How do we define activist media and what are the limits of communication practices for individuals and groups? How can digital media production be placed in the context of existing queer and feminist cultures? How can we understand the interest in new technologies and motivation to use them in activist practice? How can we understand resistance to them? Do ‘new’ media signify ‘new’ feminisms? In particular, how do they re-position questions of gender, sexuality and technology?