Riot-grrrl in Barcelone, dominant discourses, data and representation

I hope you can bare with me to see the points through the blurry presentation and unstructured train of thought…

In this blog we all touch upon the issue of representation in different ways, and generally the approach is around the question of the power of social media and representation in bridging the divide between the Global South and the rest, as well as in the role of tools for empowerment. The way in which the Digital Revolution is something that we cannot consider without also being aware of context. In my first post I tried to point towards the way in which geography surely plays an important role in the preconditions for being a contributor, but more importantly how different intersections in our social structures has an even larger impact on the way in which individuals and groups are allowed to take place online. For in this context we speak of the online context, in particular social media, but this not in a way where we disregard the non digital world. What this ultimately means is that there are hierarchies both within social contexts and between social contexts that affects the position, the power and the influence that we as part of different social groups generally can have. For when we in our various posts have, primarily, looked at larger perspectives such as the Global South in relation to the West it cannot be ignored that different groups have more influence through social media on the development policy and practice within a closer proximity.

Looking at Europe for example, the current issues in the North, and North East are highlight pertaining to developments in the Russian foreign policy. The elections in Ukraine are more discussed in terms of it being a part of the Russian politics than a sovereign nation-state in its own right. Of cause these discussions are also there but in a general sense. What this indicates is that the colonial reasoning is applied to a new context one very close to those who are defining it and maybe also without comprehension of the discursive power it may have in producing data. See for example this very interesting article on Orientalism applied to the Russia and Ukraine example on relation to Europe as the discursive power. (Hopefully it is more successful in getting the point through than I am)

Continuing on the same path, if you are Spanish speaking and reading news from Spain you may have already heard about this, but if you are not, then there is a high possibility that you were as unaware as I was until now…

Last Wednesday, a massive feminist strike paralyzed the streets of Barcelona, with thousands of women and their allies shutting down traffic and the subways, spray-painting feminist slogans all over city walls and occupying the offices of powerful political and economic institutions.

The article reasons around why there has been such little attention on this and proposes that it depends on the lack of media coverage in English… What I want to illustrate through these two articles is the way in which, even though social media and contributors are there, there is still a discrepancy in the move between the digital world and the majority information community. For in the first case, the data that is being produced is using an analytical framework that affects the interpretation of reality towards one which may be correct but may also be very much simplified. However, alternative voices will not reach the powerful and established channels that are used in reinstating the mainstream discourse. The same goes for the feminist protests in Barcelone, if you access the article you will see that various social media tools have been used to share what is going on, nevertheless, the media with established power and by tradition effect on discourse, on development policy and practices did not find it relevant to bring forward.

How many times is this not happening? Where demonstrations are taking place, where citizens and different groups have their say but where the effect in policy and practice will not come because the move between digital and the non-digital world is very far. Or when the dominant discourse is applied to analyse events, and in reality affects the actual understanding of the events, be they accurate or skewed.

#220

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Article on the Barcelone feminist demonstrations from Spanish media (in Spanish) – La ‘Vaga de Totes’: visualizar la lucha de las mujeres trabajadoras

4 comments

  1. Hi Lisa!
    Surely! It is difficult to follow your argument! Though I think I got your point at the end and I totally agree with you. And even if you are right on your conclusions, the feminist protests in Barcelona may not be the best example. Watching the video and listening to protesters, they themselves accept that the protest has been reduced to a number of well-known activists all belonging to the same feminists networks. I guess the title of the article your referred is a bit exaggerated and does not actually reflects the reality.
    Having said that, I do coincide with you that social media and the new media have not yet managed to escape from the established power that have traditionally manipulated the mass media. Following the case of the Feminists in Barcelona, and provided that majority of media powers are closer to the central government of Spain than to the Catalan government, any news having to do with the social indignation the Catalan people is expressing are systematically banned. On the other hand, the journalist union of Catalonia have recently denounced that the Catalonian Television is controlled by the Catalonian government and it is being used to impose the secessionist view. Thus, within this context, people´s voices are not being heard in spite of the new media.

  2. Here you seem to combine two different things, which both are very interesting openers. Yet I do not quite understand what do you mean with the discursive power producing data, how does the imperialistic or rather racist discourse defined in the article occur in social media? Of course, if you are thinking the paid social media inputs – twitter and facebook campaigns run by governments – that occur in both Russian and US side they are always biased http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/08/the-kremlins-troll-army/375932/
    The feminist campaign point I understand better. Jenkis (2013:259-261) claim however that despite that transnational spread of media texts they still often read in a cultural and local context.

  3. I agree with your analysis, Lisa. First, I think this confirms what is raised by xx in one of my posts that talks about that you have to contextualize and make a political analysis of what is happening “in the non-digital world”. You also touch upon the issue that’s discussed by both Shirky and Aday et al, that so called “slacktivism” must translate also to concrete political action (not just passive activism). As I understand your text, you point to the fact that although concrete “real-world” action is in place, one must not forget that the barriers and hierarchy still exists, so regardless of where you do your activism – the barriers to translate them into policy-changing decisions could still be the same.

    • Thank you for that well formulated conclusion of my argument Kristina! It is exactly to the point.