Изнасилование по неосторожности: как шведы отстаивают согласие на секс (статья для Colta.Ru)

Уже более года в Швеции действует закон о сексуальном согласии. В мире он обратил на себя внимание тем, что впервые ввел в юридический оборот понятие «изнасилование по неосторожности». За год с момента принятия закона накопилась судебная практика по его конкретному применению: со времени вступления закона в силу несколько мужчин уже отправилось за решетку. Кирилл Филимонов разбирался в причинах принятия закона и в его тонкостях.

Полный текст статьи на Colta.Ru здесь.

Памяти Фуко: что такое власть и как мы пришли к обществу норм, дисциплины и контроля (статья для журнала “Дискурс”)

Иллюстрация: Таня Сафонова

35 лет назад умер Мишель Фуко — ключевой философ второй половины ХХ века, вдохновивший длинный ряд наиболее востребованных современных мыслителей, среди которых Джудит Батлер, Гаятри Спивак и Эдвард Саид. Годовщина преждевременного ухода Фуко — повод вспомнить о его неординарном взгляде на концепт власти, центральную тему его работ, заряженную критикой общественных норм и институтов, далеко выходящих за пределы государства и правительства.

Полный текст статьи здесь.

How Will Millenials Change the World of Media? (Orange Magazine interview)

Photo: OrangeMagazine.eu

Original link: How Will Millenials Change the World of Media?

In September 2018, I spent 10 days in Berlin at an annual workshop for Young European Journalists (YEJ) and M100 Sanssoussi Colloquium. The discussions this year very much focused on the performance of journalism in the context of right-wing populism, fake news, and the crisis of legitimacy of the EU. This exchange (later cut short by the editors) is an outcome of my conversation with Orange Magazine that covered the event.

What challenges do you see for journalism in the Social Web?

If journalism is to perform its democratic function – providing people with information and voice – the logic of the social web is indeed a challenge. The flashiness and instantaneity, the echo-chamber mindset, the obsession with keeping the ever-escaping attention of the viewer and reader, all pose risk to this democratic function. My concern is that many in journalism, however concerned they may be with democratic practices, tend accept this logic of the social web to some extent. How many times have those working with the social web have been reminded by their colleagues that their content is not eye-catching enough for ‘the younger audience’? I agree that some adjustment to social media logic is necessary to keep a media project afloat. But what has to be a matter of constant reflection in the media community is how these tendencies in media development can enhance the participatory and empowering potential of media production, not make it even more antagonistic, shallow, mainstream, and profit-driven.

How will the new generation of young media makers change the traditional journalism? What will be their impact in your opinion?

Young media makers are not a homogeneous group, and let’s remind ourselves that representing a different generation is not a guarantee that old patterns won’t be reproduced. Young people, like everyone else, view the world differently depending on their social privilege and cultural background. Let alone the strong impact of education: as an undergrad student of journalism, I remember all too well how keen some senior journalists (many of whom were my teachers) are to pass on the elitist understanding of the journalistic identity. For a 20-year-old, it can be quite seductive to accept this role uncritically, instead of rethinking the role of a journalist in the context of a democratized communication. All of this is to say that as young media makers, you come to this world with its pre-established discourses that can’t be changed overnight.

In this sense, I wouldn’t expect change to come simply because of age. Sure, there are generational differences. That we are more at ease with digital platforms is obvious, but I’m less concerned with technical aspects here and would look at the broader political and cultural shifts instead. We have grown up in the post-9/11, post-financial crisis age: many of us have directly experienced the repercussions of neoliberal and xenophobic policies. At the same time, we have grown up in the world where being gay is no longer the reason for deprivation of basic civil rights (despite the global backlash), and feminism is trending again. Whether or not this makes us more sensitive to social inequalities and hierarchies is an open question, and I’m tempted to speculate that it does. If this is the case, I’d be hopeful that young media makers foster a more advocative kind of journalism which promotes social diversity and horizontal communication, rather than speaks to the traditional homogeneous ‘public’ from the privileged position of a media professional (with its traditional white, male and middle-class image). The technological changes have made it possible for these roles to be transformed, but are in themselves not enough. The tectonic cultural shifts of the past couple of decades, however, can let it happen.

How do we engage with non-media centric media studies? Talk at FSMK conference

What: The Swedish Association for Media and Communication Research (FSMK) conference, panel ‘How do we engage with non-media centric media studies?”

Where: Department of Informatics and Media, Uppsala University

When: 4 May 2018

My doctoral project, in essence, deals with three larger areas: participation, media, and discourse theory. To be more precise, it explores participation – in media – through the lens of discourse theory.

Now, I would carefully assume that for those of us who study participation, it is its democratic and emancipatory ethos, not the field of its application, that matters in the first place. Almost a hundred years ago, George Douglas Howard Cole argued that the democratic principle  needs to be applied “not only or mainly to some special sphere of social action known as ‘politics’, but to any and every form of social action”. Indeed, media is one of the many spheres where power relations are at play. These tend to be unequal power relations, and they need to be studied and, if possible, remedied. But media is not the point of departure; the democratic principle is.

With this normative understanding in mind, let me say a couple of things on what the PhD project is about. I study participation in alternative media communities. By alternative media communities I mean groups of citizens that aim at bringing visibility to marginalized social and political groups as native reporters, relatively unconstrained by more rigid structures of traditional media. Given that many alternative media tend to strive for a more flat organizational structure, they become an important locus for participatory processes and power struggles, and that’s what obviously what catches the eye of a participation scholar.

My first case study is located in Russia, my home country. It is a radical left-wing community Avtonom that positions itself primarily as anarchist, but declares its commitment to a variety of other causes on the Left: antifascism, feminism, antimilitarism, and so on. They used to be a part of a broader libertarian communist community, but because the movement has been in decline in the past years, the media project has developed a significant degree of autonomy. The media project is keen on distributing news of the marginalized community whose voices are absent in mainstream state media, but also in mainstream liberal opposition media. But it is also their mode of operation that is noteworthy: the platform provides tools for anyone to upload their texts directly. No pre-moderation is needed. There are control mechanisms to take these materials down, which is when the participatory dynamics become especially visible. But the golden rule is that readers should be able to submit their texts directly. This is noteworthy because media communities, at least in Russia, don’t do this very often.

The study follows the discourse-theoretical tradition that privileges social contingency and conflict as ontological categories. So, it views participation as a floating signifier whose content and meaning depends on a variety of ongoing struggles between actors of participatory processes. So, rather than working with a well-defined meaning of participation in the first place, I explore the ongoing construction of meaning of participation through the complex interplay of discursivity and corporeality. I call this performance of participation: decisions taken by the community are enacted through and supported by material practices and affordances, such as space, technology and, importantly, the activists’ own bodies, but are also identifying with the variety of discourses flowing in the social field. Performances of these material and signifying practices enable activists to define their subject positions and legitimize particular participatory intensities. To be sure, these happen in the context of continuous discursive struggles in the field crisscrossed with antagonisms, to use Laclau and Mouffe’s expression. As an outcome of these struggles, a temporary discursive stability is achieved.

I could talk at an even greater length about my theoretical framework but there is only so much time I have, so let me go back to something more relevant for our discussion today: non-media-centrism. The reason I’m spending time sketching out my PhD project is to emphasize the multiplicity of struggles located in alternative media communities. These are struggles for roles to be defined, for political identities to be articulated, for voices to be heard… Media, once again, becomes the arena where these struggles take place, and perhaps nowhere are they as visible as in alternative media.

Yet, in order to understand the participatory affordances of alternative media, media per se is probably a wrong place to start. The subject of alternative media production often ends up split in two: it is, on the one hand, an activist subject that defines themselves through signifying practices on the level of the political: anarchist, feminist, ecologist, and so on. But it also is a media subject, deciding on procedures, roles, and responsibilities in the distribution of information.

The quote I used in this talk’s title belongs to one of my informants. He referred to the fact that the media project used to belong to a broader political movement, but has achieved more autonomy since the movement has declined. He, as well as others on his platform, rejects the distinction between media activists and political activists. Participatory subject positions of my informants are not defined solely in the process of co-decision-making. In order to understand participation on the platform, one has to look at broader political discourses where these positions get defined.

Another informant, one of the key contributors to the platform, said to me: “Ever since the foundation of our movement we have tried to propagate the idea that anarchism is not only a political utopia, but an extended chain of views: antimilitarism, antifascism, feminism, and so on.” Here, we see how the very conditions of inclusion – the key premise of participation – become dependent on discourses lying outside of media per se. On a very basic level, don’t only need to be an anarchist, you need to perform the ‘right’ version of anarchism. And that is to say that participatory subject positions within the community are performed through a variety of acts, many of which have nothing to do with media production per se.

In this sense, alternative media are certainly an arena where power relations are at play. But to approach them analytically, one needs to begin with the multitude of discursive struggles that both permeate and constrain decision-making processes. This is an analytic approach, but this also reminds us that media do not necessarily have any special privilege in the social analysis – but rather, in line with Cole, are one of many social fields where the democratic principle needs to be applied.

Thank you.

Джудит Батлер. «Заметки к перформативной теории собрания»: телесность демократии и достойная жизнь (рецензия для журнала “Дискурс”)


«Дискурс» публикует главу из книги Джудит Батлер «Заметки к перформативной теории собрания», которая вышла в этом году в переводе Дмитрия Кралечкина в рамках совместной издательской программы «Ад Маргинем Пресс» и музея «Гараж». Выдающийся философ развивает свою теорию перформативности гендера, осмысляя ее в контексте публичных собраний. Какова роль тел в демократическом процессе и публичном пространстве? Как могут делать заявления и предъявлять требования группы, чьи слова и тела обесценены и дегуманизированы – мигранты, транссексуалы, расовые меньшинства, заключенные, люди с ограниченными возможностями? Как осмыслить взаимосвязь между перформативностью и прекариатом?

Сам по себе выход книги Батлер на русском языке – событие чрезвычайно значимое, и трехлетнее запоздание – уже большой шаг вперед: последний раз русскоязычные читатели увидели новую книгу американского философа 16 лет назад, в перерыве были вынуждены довольствоваться лишь парой разрозненных текстов в сборных изданиях, а русский перевод общепризнанных шедевров Gender Trouble и Bodies That Matter за четверть века так и не вышел. К счастью, Батлер напоминает основные постулаты теории перформативности гендера в «Заметках…», что для русскоязычной публики особенно важно. В новой книге она остается верна тезису bodies that matter: тела по-прежнему имеют значение для радикальной демократии; они по-прежнему могут говорить, даже когда лишены голоса, ценности и видимости; занятие публичного пространства, как показали Арабская весна и движение Occupy, может быть красноречивее любого речевого акта.

Это важно для понимания второй ключевой темы в «Заметках…» : политического действия в условиях прекариата, когда сама достойная жизнь с личной безопасностью, стабильным трудоустройством, жильем, здравоохранением и питанием становится предметом политической борьбы – происходит ли это в режиме западного неолиберализма, израильской оккупации или египетской диктатуры. Если политика, согласно Арендт, – это совместное действие на принципах равенства, то совместное появление в публичном пространстве и есть перформанс политического: тела, которые каждый день вынуждены доказывать свою равную ценность, заявляют о своих правах самим фактом выхода в публичное пространство, стирая грани между приватным и общественным. Важность этой мысли состоит в том, что артикулированные политические требования если и не отходят на второй план, то, во всяком случае, становятся лишь частью материализованного протеста. Движение Occupy, например, так и не смогло внятно сформулировать свои политические задачи и идентичность, но сумело хотя бы на некоторое время символически заявить о своем праве на городское пространство, оккупированного логикой рынка и консюмеризма, и тем самым задать этому физическому пространству новые (политические) смыслы. Российская политика может не особенно занимать Батлер, но ее размышления о телесности публичных собраний способны подсказать новые ответы тем демократическим активистам и интеллектуалам, которые считают первостепенной задачей артикулирование идентичности российского протестного движения – и, быть может, предложит свежий взгляд на старые вопросы.

“Where does difference start to matter as difference?”. Moving intersectionality beyond feminist studies at Uppsala symposium

What: Seminar Intersectionality: Experiences of Inclusion and Exclusion

Where: Department of Informatics and Media, Uppsala University

When: 12 February 2018

Who: 50 academics and practitioners from 10 countries in Europe and North America

Our symposium was a remarkable event – not only because it explored this trendy and still rapidly expanding feminist school, but also thanks to the variety of disciplines that were brought together under this label.


Beyond feminist studies

Indeed we were a bit provocative in stretching the notion beyond feminist studies per se, with Stefania Milan (University of Amsterdam) taking it into Science and Technology Studies, Nico Carpentier (Uppsala University) into politics of participation, and Arne Hintz (University of Cardiff) positioning himself in Critical Data Studies.

Whereas Stefania Milan focused on the intersection of gender and data activism, Arne Hintz discussed the ‘objectivity paradox’ of data when the supposedly objective ‘evidence’ is in fact merely reproducing the existing social stigmatisations. One of the most striking examples was the so-called criminal risk assessment in the US, where an algorithm expected to predict whether arrested individuals might be future criminals showed not only bad judgment but also a clear bias against people of colour and poor citizens (see picture on the left), with the assessment process failing to take into account structural problems faced by poorer and discriminated communities. “Resistance to datafication” was Arne Hintz’s straightforward reply to visibly agitated audience members.

Nico Carpentier‘s keynote was probably most radical in terms of revisiting intersectionality. Deploying the vocabulary of discourse theory, one of his major talking points was the intersection of participatory and non-participatory subject positions, where the participatory ones relate to roles that define and enable participatory processes (citizen, ordinary person, leader, expert, owner, etc.) and the non-participatory positions signify the more traditional axes of differentiation such as gender and race. Intersectionality could then relate to what he calls ‘identity politics of participation’, analysing, on one level, the intersection of participatory subject positions, and, on another level, their intersection with gender, ethnic, and other identities.


Valences of power

The discussion around the notion of empowerment proved most engaging. Where to locate empowerment? Nico Carpentier’s proposal was twofold: it is located both in the process and the outcome. Empowerment, he pointed out, is embedded in participatory process – through equalisation of participants’ power positions – which, if successful, enables to translate the process into empowerment as an outcome.

Yasmin Jiwani (Concordia University) defined empowerment as an “assertion of identity in the face of exclusion”. “Where does difference start to matter as difference?”, she asked in her signature interrogative manner. If empowerment is but another floating signifier, how do we protect its emancipatory meaning – resisting, for instance, its trendy narrow reading in terms of consumerism? And this, Yasmin Jiwani went on, is where genealogy is so important: by showing the origins of these key democratic concepts, the emancipatory narrative can be reinforced. Nico Carpentier followed up: the same refers to participation; meaning-making around all of these notions are a matter of ongoing social struggles.

Yasmin Jiwani’s own keynote focused power and bodies, revolving around ‘valences of power’ across three intersected axes: visibility – invisibility – surveillance (who or what is rendered visible?), worthiness – unworthiness – normalisation (who or what is considered worthy?), and desired – undesired (who or what is considered desired/desirable?). These ‘valences of power’, she pointed out, underpin socio-historical and political contexts that position different bodies in particular ways, privileging some and making others invisible, unworthy, and undesirable. Her example analysed the representation of Muslim bodies as evil, wild, illegal, etc., drawing on classical Orientalist narratives.


Meet the Immigrant Lads and Chicks

Among other noteworthy presentations, including my dear colleagues Siddharth Chadha and Blerjana Bino, was that of Irene Molina (Uppsala University) who explored ‘racialisation’ of Swedish suburbs – the term she prefers to the more mainstreamised ‘ethnic segregation’ – an interesting case in itself, given that Swedish suburbs are among the most ethnically segregated the western world.

Irene Molina presented the genealogy of the discourse on segregation, supported by what she calls ‘urban ideologies’ of racism and capitalism. Whereas in the period of the 1960-80’s the inhabitants of ‘bad suburbs’ were commonly perceived as victims, she said, the decades of the 80’s and 90’s saw an increased ghettoisation, with the rise of the ‘Immigrant Lads’ and ‘Immigrant Chicks’ (invandrarkillar/invandrartjejer) by the 2000’s, as well as their Patriarchal Fathers and Passive Mothers.

Throughout the 2000’s, two parallel trends were developing: on the one hand, the suburbs were increasingly exotised and (ethnically) romanticised (I understand this in line with Kymlicka’s ‘celebration of multiculturalism’ – glorification of difference, often it terms of plain consumerism, with no deeper reflection on subjectifications). On the other hand, they were increasingly portrayed as a threat (criminality, no-go areas, the expanding Islam, and so on).

The last, most recent period Irene Molina outlined, saw the idea of outsiderness (utanförskap) gaining ground, with signifiers such as terrorism, fear, and violence stabilising in the discourse on the suburbs. Yet, a more relevant question might be ‘whose violence?’ – given media’s focus on immigrant violence, while an excessive use of police force in suburban areas remains largely ignored and essentially normalised.


Towards radical democracy

Apart from taking part in organising of the symposium, I got a chance to contribute more meaningfully. My presentation attempted to bridge intersectionality with radical democratic theory. I illustrated this with the set of progressive struggles that the Swedish political party Feminist Initiative (FI) attempted to construct in their political project during the previous parliamentary election campaign. The causes of feminists, anti-racists, sexual minorities and people with disabilities were discursively articulated under the umbrella term ‘feminist politics’ that FI communicated in their campaign. This brought their project closer to Laclau and Mouffe’s normative ideal of radical democracy – where a chain of equivalence between a set of progressive struggles would be established, leading to a proliferation of voices, identities, and political spaces.

My talk was based on my article with Jakob Svensson (Malmö University) titled ‘(re)Articulating feminism: A discourse-theoretical analysis of Sweden’s Feminist Initiative election campaign’, so be sure to check it out.