Sama Khosravi Ooryad, the new Ph.D. in the TechnAct cluster, joins Nadia and Onur to host the podcast in this new season.
In the first episode, we we had an insightful and interesting conversation with Zeynab Peyghambarzadeh who is a bisexual activist and scholar with a long trajectory of feminist and LGBTQI+ activism. Zeynab spoke about about their translational Bi+ activism and their work with LGBTQI+ asylum seekers.
You can find links to our podcast via the Media page above, where you can listen or watch the podcast online. You can also find the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts by searching for TechnAct.
Mia Liinason of TechnAct is co-editing a special issue of Frontiers in Sociology with Marta Cuesta and there is a call for papers.
We invite contributions that critically engage with the emergent possibilities and risks for feminist, antiracist and LGBTI+ subjects and struggles in digital times, that examine the diverse effects on digital activism and activists of the blurred boundaries between the private and public, explore ambivalences, tensions, and new alliances in feminist, LGBTI+ and anti-racist struggles, and investigate into the performative power of social justice activisms at the digital, within as well as beyond pandemic times in local and transnational contexts.
By attending not only to the impact of digital technologies on social justice activisms but also to the influence of activisms on digital technologies, platforms, and affordances, this collection of articles takes a non-digital-centric approach to critically scrutinize the shifts and continuities that characterize our turbulent present, including but not limited to themes such as:
· Feminist, LGBTI+ and anti-racist activism on social media platforms · Emergent communities and online belongings in feminist, LGBTI+ and anti-racist activism · Feminist, LGBTI+ and anti-racist activism during pandemic times · Ambivalences, tensions and new alliances in feminist, anti-racist and LGBTI+ struggles · Digital tactics in feminist, LGBTI+ and anti-racist activism · Algorithmic connections and disconnections in feminist, LGBTI+ and anti-racist activism · Blurring private-public boundaries and/or spatial transformations in digital activism · The power of performativity and/or performance in feminist, LGBTI+ and anti-racist activism · Online-offline entanglements in feminist, LGBTI+ and anti-racist activism · Collective sensemaking in hashtag activism · Networked (counter) publics and other reconfigurations of the public sphere in digital times
We are pleased to invite you to the TechnAct summer meet-up symposium on ‘digital platforms and collective rights’ on June 17, 2021! The event is online and will take place on Zoom (registration is required). Please register by sending an email before the event to firstname.lastname@example.org
The symposium will feature five invited speakers and start with their individual presentations. The day is wrapped up by a panel conversation with all speakers. Questions to the panel can be sent in beforehand or asked on site.
TechnAct Research Cluster proudly announces a collaborative lunch-seminar with the City Library of Gothenburg!
How do digital platforms change the forms of activism? Nadia Ruiz and Onur Kilic, two Ph.D. candidates of TechnAct, will present their interdisciplinary studies concerning the role of digital platforms in political activism.
Save the date: March 26, 2021 Time: 12.00
The seminar is in English and will be live-streamed on Facebook!
Are you interested in joining TechnAct team as a communicator?
We are recruiting a communication officer/web-developer for the Research Cluster TechnAct and the Activist-Scholarly Network Feminist and Queer Solidarities beyond Borders. The position will be located at the Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg.
Application Deadline: March 22, 2021.
More information follow at the announcement link below:
Welcome to a research seminar on the problem of virtuality and context in social media research with Dr. Hamid Pousti. Hamid Pousti is a lecturer in Information Systems at the Swinburne University of Technology and a network member in the TechnAct Cluster.
Date: March 18, 2021 Time: 10.00-12.00 (CET) Location: The seminar will be held in zoom. The link will be distributed upon registration. Register by sending an email to email@example.com at the latest by the day of the seminar.
Abstract: In this paper, we take a closer look at the problem of virtuality and context in social media research. We observed that the absence of a setting’s real physical boundaries limits people’s ability to create a common experience at the present time and develop a history of shared experiences. As a result, we see that many researchers’ interpretations of data in social media settings are often black‐boxed and challenges of studying these settings remain unnoticed. By using the Klein and Myers (1999) framework as a vehicle for unpacking these challenges, we present a framework for reflexivity in studying virtual settings in this paper. The framework is built on the notion of reflexivity at the theory, design, and practice levels. We recognize social media research as a reflexive space and call for more evident and active reflexivity in qualitative social media research where researchers reflect upon their impact on the research process.
Presenter’s bio: Hamid Pousti has a bachelor’s degree in theoretical Physics and received his Ph.D. in Information Systems from Monash University. His research interests include social media, community resilience, and Industry 4.0. Hamid is currently a Lecturer in Information Systems at the Swinburne University of Technology and the lead of Inclusive AI Theme at the Social Innovation Research Institute (SIRI).
Bio of co-author Cathy Urquhart: Cathy Urquhart is a Professor of Digital Business at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. Her broad area of research centers around the use of digital innovation for societal good. She is interested in how social media and all forms of ICTs can help us meet societal challenges, such as sustainable development, individual wellbeing, and social justice. She is the author of Grounded Theory for Qualitative Research, published by Sage, and a second edition is expected next year. She also writes regularly on developments in grounded theory and qualitative research methodology in general. She holds or has held various editorial and board positions with the Journal of the Association of Information Systems, Information Technology, and Development, European Journal of Information Systems, Information Systems Journal, and MIS Quarterly. Her website can be found here https://www2.mmu.ac.uk/business-school/about-us/our-staff/otehm/profile/index.php?id=899
Playing in the Interdisciplinary: The Gaming Industry as both Social and Technological
Text by Limes Olsson
I recently did an interview with Nadia Ruiz-Bravo, PhD candidate at University of Gothenburg and part of the TechnAct research cluster. I asked her about her research and her interests, as well as her work in the research cluster.
Nadia’s research is interdisciplinary, ranging from informatics and digital technologies to collective action and social movements. More specifically, it is focused on the gaming industry, with all that it encompasses: the games, the development, the community and so on. There is a lot of crossover between those who play and engage with games, and the ones who create and develop games, so trying to divide it into distinct categories is almost impossible. “Developers are usually gamers, gamers are also doing some sort of design or they are also developing something,” Nadia tells me, mentioning that she also has tried her hand at developing games.
Nadia’s current research is on the case of the Hong Kong protests and the video game company Blizzard. During a livestream Blitzchung, a professional e-sport player of the game Hearthstone, expressed support for the protests calling for an independent Hong Kong. Due to this Blizzard, who are behind the game Hearthstone, banned Blitzchung from competing and took away his prize money. This sparked a lot of outrage in the community surrounding Blizzard games, not just Hearthstone. The community took to various online platforms to spread messages and critique Blizzard’s actions.
Nadia has focused mainly on the spamming in chats on the streaming platform Twitch and posts on the discussion platform Reddit. For example, the phrase “Free Hong Kong” was spammed in the chats on Twitch streams in an attempt to raise awareness. There was also information being shared about the situation in Hong Kong, but also a lot of internet trolling. For example, the phrases “Free King Kong” and “Free Donkey Kong, he did nothing wrong” were widely circulated, potentially just causing confusion and drowning out the messages containing information about the Hong Kong protests.
There was also a prevalence of sharing fanart and images, one of them of Mei from the game Overwatch, another one of Blizzard’s games. Due to the character’s nationality being Chinese, she was a great candidate to represent the people siding with the protestors and to portray as being in favor of liberation. In addition, there were mods and different character skins created by the community, which could be used in the game to give Mei a different look (one example was her regular body armor but painted with Hong Kong’s flag). Mods like these can be used as resistance, it is a way of reclaiming a character or a game for yourself: “They do mods and then they just play. ‘I will play your game, but I will make it mine,’” Nadia explains. The hopes of using Mei as a figure for the pro-independence protestors were that China would put a ban on Blizzard’s games, and thereby punishing Blizzard for their actions. This never happened, but Blizzard eventually listened to the critique and shortened the time on Blitzchung’s competition ban and returned the prize money.
I asked her how Nadia came to be interested in studying the gaming industry. She told me about how she has been interested in video games for pretty much as long as she can remember. From playing Prince of Persia on the family’s PC, to convincing her parents to get a PlayStation to be able to play Dance Dance Revolution. “But I also played so many other things. […] I am super interested in video games!”
Nadia has a background in engineering and she has previously worked in the tech industry but found that it lacked the social aspects. There was very little or no space for the discussions of for example ethics, and with parents who are both in the humanities Nadia felt the need to address the hard sciences and the social aspects together. Getting to do a PhD within this conjunction of the social and tech is therefore something Nadia is very happy to be able to do. It is important and very interesting, she expresses and describes it as “a search for theorizing around technology, and the social part around it or in it. That’s basically the most important thing for me.”
Finally, we talked about future hopes and dreams. Nadia has no shortage of ideas for things and topics she would like to look into, and there is a plethora of issues and phenomena in the gaming industry that one can research. Nadia mentioned GamerGate as one such example, the widespread and vicious harassment of women developers back in 2014. Another example would be the phenomenon of crunch. Crunch is what excessive overworking is known as in the gaming industry, and it is being more and more recognized as an unhealthy practice, and not as ‘good work ethic’, which previously has been the argument in favor of it. It gets the games out on the market faster but at the cost of the workers, and sometimes also the quality of the games. But recently there has been a shift in the gaming community where many are expressing being okay with waiting longer for games if it means that there will be no crunch. However, crunch is still very prevalent in game development. It contains power dynamics and gender issues and it seems to tick most of Nadia’s boxes for interesting research. “Everything is mixed there! So I find that super interesting.”
Nadia’s research interests seem to always be located where the social and technological meet, a space that evidently has a lot to offer. Getting to interview Nadia really opened my eyes to new understandings of the video game industry and how it is much more complex and varied than one might assume from a first look. An assumption seems to be that primarily young boys and men are interested in video games, something that my talk with Nadia contested. People who enjoy video games can come from any background with any sorts of experiences. And just as gamers come in an infinite variety, so do video games.
Limes Olsson is a master’s student in gender studies at University of Gothenburg. Their primary interests are queer studies, queer theory and power relations. Limes has previously had an internship position at the research cluster TechnAct. During the spring of 2021 they will be writing their MA thesis.
The idea of pride continues to travel across the globe to promote visibility and validity of LGBTI+ people. Yet, as a political movement and community of belonging, pride politics takes shape as a contested field in situated locales, at once challenged and cherished, bringing forth critical questions of the agendas, tactics and visions of its ever-increasing popularity.
This special issue invites papers that draw on various types of ethnographic, empirical and theoretical approaches, with the aim to scrutinize the emergent tensions and temporalities of pride politics through its many shifting times and contexts, transnationally as well as locally. By exploring the tensions and temporalities of pride, this special issue is interested in reaching deeper insights around how scale and place matter for the meaning attached to pride related events. We are inspired by scholars who have problematized and challenged the legacy of pride politics as oriented towards a specific form of visibility in urban space and towards legal recognition. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:
How do the temporal and transnational travels of pride politics resonate with developments in global, national, and/or local contexts?
What does global/transnational pride politics impose, erase, or embrace in local contexts?
How is the risk of romanticizing the local challenged, transformed, or reiterated in localized pride-related events and organizing?
What multiple dynamics of visibility/invisibility are brought forward in pride-related events in various locales?
How are tensions between the urban and the rural challenged or re-articulated through pride politics in various settings?
How are the intersections of race, sexuality, and class expressed in pride-related events and organizing?
How are post/decolonial pride politics expressed in local contexts or transnational travels?
How are myths and stories reworked or re-narrated in pride-related events? What approaches do actors involved in pride-related storytelling take in relation to notions and visions of change?
How do actors involved in pride politics imagine or express transformation beyond legal recognition?
How has the sudden shift from the streets to digital space affected pride activism in particular contexts and transnationally?