May 11-12 2023, Tampere University
Tampere, Finland
Rewired and revamped? Media & trans/national feminisms in Europe and beyond

FEMCORUS mid-term symposium draws attention to the current debates on media’s role in shaping and popularizing contemporary feminisms ranging from celebrity feminism to neo-liberal and post-feminism (Rottenberg et al 2020). It underscores the role of popular culture and media as sites of feminism and (subversive) feminist struggle. The symposium acknowledges the intrinsic plurality of the ways in which feminism can be practiced and theorized in the 21st century within digital media and in various socio-political contexts. Importantly, it seeks to contribute to the scholarship which challenges the West-centric normative mainstream feminist models (e.g., see Tlostanova 2018) and provides a space for a diversity of voices and feminist positions. Foremost, the event is aimed at bridging a gap in empirical and theoretical understanding of feminism between various academic traditions (Anglo-American, post-Socialist, postcolonial).

The symposium is informed by the current geopolitical tensions in Europe. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a rapid transformation of mediated feminisms in the region. We have witnessed a ‘diasporization’ of the feminist movement, and fragmentation of feminist academic networks as a consequence of political oppression, as well as an emergence of new feminist networks and activist hubs in different parts of the world. Feminist groups and media celebrities have adopted new media strategies to connect with the precarious communities within the conflict zones as well as to maintain their regular audience, ratings, and revenues elsewhere. These actions take place within the neoliberal digital economy with its lack of algorithmic transparency and constantly increasing regulation, precarity (e.g., the use of banned social networks via VPN), and militarization.

Against this background, we argue that the shifting media affordances and geopolitical upheavals reinvigorate the feminist movement potentially leading to an overhaul of the existing stereotypes related to feminism (such as feminists as antifamily, antifamine, radical, etc.) and allowing for complex trans/national feminist connections. If this is the case, what does this rupture mean for the role of the celebrity feminism? What sort of feminist sensibilities and solidarities are emerging today in Europe and beyond?

We are thrilled to have three wonderful scholars as our keynote speakers. They are Prof. Catherine Rottenberg (University of Nottingham, UK), Prof. Laurie Essig (Middlebury College, USA), Dr Aristea Fotopoulou (University of Brighton, UK), Prof. Lucy Delap (University of Cambridge) & Dr Dominique Chadwick.

Central campus,
Tampere University,
Kalevanrinne 4,
Tampere, Finland

Participation fee:
Keynote speakers

Lucy Delap and Dominique Chadwick

Keynote session

Participatory film and gender justice in postcolonial Africa

This paper explores practices of participatory film making, which grew in popularity in the 1990s and 2000s, inspired by critical pedagogy, newly affordable technologies and commitments to decolonising ‘development’ initiatives in the global South. A collaborative investigation by historian Lucy Delap and film director Dominique Chadwick outlines the practical and ethical concerns of feminist film making as ‘action research’, and locates it within the mediascape of the turn of the millennium, as well as the context of the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Offering case studies of film making in Ghana and newly-independent Namibia, the paper explores the uses of film and other media by local activist or non-governmental groups such as Namibia Women's Health Network and Sister Namibia. It reflects on film training, scripting, film production, film screening to local audiences in targeted rural communities and distribution as sites of systematic power asymmetries yet also points of leverage for social change and gender justice.

Keynote speakers’ biographies

Prof. Catherine Rottenberg is a Professor of Feminist Thought and Culture in the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham. Her monographs include The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism (2018) and Performing Americanness: Race, Class, and Gender in Modern African-American and Jewish-American Literature (2008). She is also the co-author of The Care Manifesto (2020) and editor of Black Harlem and the Jewish Lower East Side: Narratives out of Time (2013).

Prof. Laurie Essig is a sociologist who teaches courses on Heterosexuality, White People, Freakishness and Feminist Blogging at Middlebury College. Her first book, Queer in Russia: A Story of Sex, Self and the Other (Duke, 1999) considered how sexual others are imagined and thus imagine themselves in Russia. Essig contributes to the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Psychology Today. Her current project is Love, Inc: The strange marriage of romance and capitalism.

Dr Aristea Fotopoulou is a Reader in Digital Communication, Culture & Society at the University of Brighton, UK. Her research concerns social and cultural transformations that relate to digital media and data-based technologies, with a focus on gender and social justice. She has published widely on critical issues of digital and emerging technologies from a feminist perspective, including the quantified self, wearable sensors and fitness tracking, citizen everyday data practices, digital media and feminist activism, intersectionality and queer theory. Her book Feminist Activism and Digital Networks was described as “required reading for social justice classrooms.” Twitter: @aristeaf

Dr Dominique Chadwick works as an independent film consultant, reporting on humanitarian issues in over 40 countries. She has a life lifelong interest in the study of vulnerable rural communities and a belief in the power of participatory work to transform the lives of women and men of marginalised communities. Over the last 25 years she designed and ran participatory film projects with a strong focus on gender issues. Her work is premised on a commitment to training women in film production, leading them to share their untold stories on critical issues such as girls’ education, violence against women, polygamy, health, HIV/AIDS, land ownership, disability, child trafficking and forced marriage.

Prof. Lucy Delap teaches history at the University of Cambridge and is a Fellow of Murray Edwards College. She has published widely on the history of feminism, gender, labour and media, including the prize-winning The Feminist Avant-Garde: Transatlantic Encounters of the early twentieth century, Knowing Their Place: Domestic Service in Twentieth Century Britain in 2011, and Feminisms: a global history in 2020.

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