York University’s first Science and Technology Studies (STS) Departmental Seminar Series of the new year commences on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 12:30 p.m., featuring Rianka Singh, assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies. The talk is titled, “Platform Feminism and the Politics of Elevation.”
“I develop the term ‘Platform Feminism’ to describe an emerging view of digital platforms as an always-already useful form of empowerment. I argue that ‘Platform Feminism’ has come to structure and dominate popular imaginaries of feminist politics,” says Singh. “In the digital age, there is a common perception that platforms are necessary for a kind of empowerment; they are spaces and places to amplify one’s voice, to have a speaking part in a narrative, and to display power, even in limited ways.”
The talk proposes a new feminist media theory that positions the platform as a media object that elevates and amplifies some voices over others while rendering marginal resistance tactics illegible.
Singh will explain how platforms have been especially tied to feminist modes of liberation such as #MeToo and the stages at women’s marches that became popular in 2017. She will also argue the equation between elevation and political power is too simple.
“Elevation is certainly imbricated with power dynamics, but these materialize in more complicated ways. To account for the politics of elevation is to consider how being raised is at once something both to fight for and to fight against.”
The talk will dive deeper in showing how the politics of elevation are about attending to the power relations connected to the process of elevating particular people through various forms of platform media. Singh will also describe the need to reconsider the material consequences of elevation altogether. This talk will make a case for the continued study of the platform’s role in shaping feminist and anti-racist politics.
Now in its 28th year, the STS Research Seminar Series features seminars on a wide range of STS-related topics. Sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology Studies and coordinated by its members, the series has hosted more than 500 speakers from Canada and around the world.
All events in the series will run on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. They are all free and open to the public, with no registration required. The talks are delivered via Zoom in the fall term, with delivery for the winter term to be determined. To receive a Zoom link for this event and others in the series, contact STS Professor Conor Douglas, seminar series coordinator, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.