Intersectional technopolitics in social movement and media activism

Intersectional technopolitics in social movement and media activism

Sandra Jeppesen | 2021 | article in International Journal of Communication

Digital media activism is emblematic of our time. From the beginnings of livestream and email activism by Indymedia in the global justice movement (GJM) two decades ago, through the digitally facilitated hybrid media protests of the squares in the antiausterity and Arab Spring waves of contention a decade ago, to the current wave of intersectional meta-issue contention of today, including #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, digital media have increasingly provided a venue for global social movement and media activist participation.

Emerging global social movement and media activist practices are integrating intersectional politics into technologically facilitated activism. Based on a multiyear empirical study, this article proposes a preliminary theoretical framework that maps 5 key dimensions of an emergent intersectional technopolitics: (1) intersectional anticapitalist politics enacted in meta-issue movements; (2) distributed online–offline media architectures and motility; (3) multiplicities of genres, forms, technologies, and spaces; (4) translocal solidarity economies and technologies; and (5) liberatory intersectional mechanisms of collective autonomy.

This intervention arises from a multiyear global study of intersectional movement and media activist projects in 13 countries. The research team, Media Action Research Group (MARG), combined participatory action research methods with integrated media activist activities. The latter included organizing and facilitating media activist workshops; participating in activist gatherings; hiring media activists to conduct research, produce media, design the website, write articles, and present at conferences; and contributing labor toward media activist and social movement groups, all on a global scale.

The author argues that intersectional technopolitics is an innovative and complex set of coherent global social movement and media activist practices rooted in meta-issue movements integrated with transmedia digital technologies. The article concludes with a critical analysis of contradictions encountered by intersectional technopolitics activists as they interact with the structures of broader social movements, social media technologies, and societal hierarchies.