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The power of vulnerability

Mobilising affect in feminist, queer and anti-racist media cultures

Edited by: Anu Koivunen, Katariina Kyrölä and Ingrid Ryberg

The power of vulnerability interrogates the new language of vulnerability that has emerged in feminist, queer and anti-racist debates about the production, use and meanings of media. The book investigates the historical legacies and contemporary forms and effects of this language. In today’s media culture, traumatic first-person or group narratives have popular currency, mobilising affect from compassion to rage to gain cultural visibility and political advantage. In this context, vulnerability becomes a kind of capital, a resource or an asset that can and has been appropriated for various groups and purposes in public discourses, activism as well as cultural institutions. Thus, politics of representation translates into politics of affect, and the question about whose vulnerability counts as socially and culturally legible and acknowledged. The contributors of the book examine how vulnerability has become a battleground; how affect and vulnerability have turned into a politicised language for not only addressing but also obscuring asymmetries of power; and how media activism and state policies address so-called vulnerable groups. While the contributors investigate the political potential as well as the constraints of vulnerability for feminist, queer and antiracist criticism, they also focus on the forms of agency and participation vulnerability can offer.

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‘One big family’

Emotion, affect and the meaning of activism

Hilary Pilkington

7 ‘One big family’: emotion, affect and the meaning of activism Following discussion of the ideological dimensions of EDL activism (Chapters 4 and 5) and of the particular ‘injustice frame’ (Jasper, 1998: 398) of ‘second-class citizens’ underpinning the rationalised meanings attached to EDL activism (Chapter 6), attention turns here to the emotional and affective dimensions of activism. The recent rehabilitation of ‘the emotional’ in the field of social movement studies has led to a recognition that emotionality does not equate to irrationality (1998: 398) and

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The invulnerable body of colour

The failure and success of a Swedish film diversity initiative

Mara Lee Gerdén

 submitted an application that included a synopsis of my idea for a TV series –​the main character being a strong woman of colour working as a personal trainer at a gym –​and it was accepted. This is how I ended up as one of the participants of the Fusion Programme of 2016. In this chapter, I examine the affective politics of the Fusion Programme, focusing on tensions between participant motivations and a film policy which, I  argue, balanced conflicting frameworks:  an outspoken effort to attain goals for gender equality, the desire to implement a perspective on diversity, a

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Introduction

The past as prologue

Series:

Kerry Longhurst

capture the link between the past and contemporary security policy. To do this, three distinct, yet interrelated, questions guide the course of the study. The first relates to identification: what is German strategic culture; what are its constituent parts, contours and substance? The second question refers to the notion of change: to what extent and in what form has change in the external security environment after 1989 impacted on German strategic culture? The third question is associated with the theme of behaviour: in what ways does strategic culture affect behaviour

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Tuur Driesser

monitoring device to enable quick detection of pandemic threats – in particular in relation to bioterrorism – and subsequent intervention. Here, this case of the PathoMap as a monitoring device will serve to explore some questions concerning maps and temporality. In particular, the argument will emphasise not the representation of time through maps, but rather the way in which maps themselves affect, direct and produce time. Promoting the Picturing Place project at the University College London ‘Urban Laboratory’, Campkin, Mogilevich and Ross (2014: no pagination) write

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Series:

Arthur B. Gunlicks

by the Länder to protect their sphere of responsibility from EU incursions or, at the very least, to participate in the decision making that affects them directly, have been of varying success over the years. However, it seems as if they are now in a stronger position than ever before to influence decisions in Brussels. They also continue to have a modest impact on foreign policy, particularly in the area of foreign aid, where they have been quite successful in very specific areas of activity. The Länder and European integration European integration as a challenge

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Where the buck stops

Governmental power and authority in democratic ecological governance

Series:

Lennart J. Lundqvist

and bureaucracies may lead to confusion as to where the buck really 2579Ch7 12/8/03 11:56 AM Page 185 Where the buck stops 185 stops, thus detracting from governmental authority to effectively pursue sustainable development. Last but not least, we have seen that the pursuit of sustainability has important implications for the democratic dimension of ecological governance and the legitimisation of governmental authority. In the rest of this final chapter, I will discuss how the emerging system of ecological governance in Sweden affects the political authority

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Series:

Lennart J. Lundqvist

Democracy and ecological governance 149 not compatible with the need for long-term, sustainable resource management. Or to turn this argument around; the stronger the pursuit of long-term ecological sustainability, the more threatened may be the value of individual autonomy. While ecological governance for sustainability must profoundly affect all and everyone in order to be successful, it cannot achieve legitimacy without offering each and everyone a possibility to participate in the formation and implementation of such governance. Susan Baker has succinctly summarised

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Loud and proud

Passion and politics in the English Defence League

Hilary Pilkington

‘Loud and proud’: Politics and passion in the English Defence League is a study of grassroots activism in what is widely considered to be a violent Islamophobic and racist organisation.

The book uses interviews, informal conversations and extended observation at EDL events to critically reflect on the gap between the movement’s public image and activists’ own understandings of it. It details how activists construct the EDL, and themselves, as ‘not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’ inter alia through the exclusion of Muslims as a possible object of racism on the grounds that they are a religiously not racially defined group. In contrast activists perceive themselves to be ‘second-class citizens’, disadvantaged and discriminated by a ‘two-tier’ justice system that privileges the rights of ‘others’. This failure to recognise themselves as a privileged white majority explains why ostensibly intimidating EDL street demonstrations marked by racist chanting and nationalistic flag waving are understood by activists as standing ‘loud and proud’; the only way of ‘being heard’ in a political system governed by a politics of silencing.

Unlike most studies of ‘far right’ movements, this book focuses not on the EDL as an organisation – its origins, ideology, strategic repertoire and effectiveness – but on the individuals who constitute the movement. Its ethnographic approach challenges stereotypes and allows insight into the emotional as well as political dimension of activism. At the same time, the book recognises and discusses the complex political and ethical issues of conducting close-up social research with ‘distasteful’ groups.

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Soaking up the rays

Light therapy and visual culture in Britain, c. 1890–1940

Tania Anne Woloshyn

Soaking up the rays forges a new path for exploring Britain’s fickle love of the light by investigating the beginnings of light therapy in the country from c.1890-1940. Despite rapidly becoming a leading treatment for tuberculosis, rickets and other infections and skin diseases, light therapy was a contentious medical practice. Bodily exposure to light, whether for therapeutic or aesthetic ends, persists as a contested subject to this day: recommended to counter psoriasis and other skin conditions as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and depression; closely linked to notions of beauty, happiness and well-being, fuelling tourism to sunny locales abroad and the tanning industry at home; and yet with repeated health warnings that it is a dangerous carcinogen. By analysing archival photographs, illustrated medical texts, advertisements, lamps, and goggles and their visual representation of how light acted upon the body, Woloshyn assesses their complicated contribution to the founding of light therapy. Soaking up the rays will appeal to those intrigued by medicine’s visual culture, especially academics and students of the histories of art and visual culture, material cultures, medicine, science and technology, and popular culture.