Ethnicities, Counterpublics, Appropriation and Social Media Symposium

On the 8th June MCC hosted an international symposium on the dynamics of activism on social media. The organisers Dr Elizabeth Poole and Dr Eva Giraud (MCC) and Dr Ed de Quincey (Computer Science) arranged the event to present some of their findings from the British Academy funded project, ‘Who speaks for Muslims? Political frictions and the politics of appropriation in social media’.

We began the day by examining some of the negative tweeting of right wing groups both in the US and the Netherlands. Speakers came from the Utrecht Data School to demonstrate the tweeting of populist politician Geert Wilders (Gerwin van Schie and Iris Muis) and discuss the bias in Government systems that categorise and discriminate against ethnic minorities (Gerwin van Schie with Nicolas Lopez Coombs). Then Munira Cheema, from the University of Sussex, explored the struggles around constructions of national identity on social media between different groups in Pakistan. In the afternoon, the mood became more hopeful as we heard how social media can be used to give voice to minorities through blogging in Finland in ‘Migrant Tales’ (Kaarina Nikunen, University of Tampere) and how Twitter has been a vehicle for unity following the death of MP Jo Cox (Beth Johnson, University of Leeds).

We also welcomed two keynote speakers, Dr Pollyanna Ruiz (University of Sussex) who delivered a fascinating talk on the role of masks in online activism and Dr Dima Saber (Birmingham City University) who finished off the day nicely with her critical analysis of the theory and methodologies used to analyse social media, with reference to her own work with Arab activists.

It was a fascinating and hopeful day with fantastic speakers and stimulating discussion. Thanks to all who came!

The New (Ab)Normal: The Cultural Politics of the New Authoritarianism

27th June, 2017

FREE EVENT, but due to limited space please register here: if you’d like to attend as space is limited!  

Keele University, Chancellors Building, CBA1.021

(Though please keep an eye out on here for the venue, as it will change to a different room if attendance rises further)


10am – 10.30am: Coffee

10.30am – 11.00am: Mark Featherstone (Keele University, Sociology) – Introduction: ‘The New (Ab)Normal: Sociology in Extremis’

11.00am – 11.30am: Ronnie Lippens (Keele University, Criminology) – ‘Rothko’s Chapel in Houston, Texas (1970): Luciferian Notes on the Age of Light’

11.30am – 12.00pm: Eva Giraud (Keele University, Media) and Sarah-Nicole Aghassi-Isfahani (Keele University, Sociology) – ‘Has Critique run out of Memes? Interrogating the ‘Post-Truth’ Media Landscape’

12.00pm – 1.00pm: Deborah Frizzell (Art, William Patterson University, USA) – ‘Trajectories of Aesthetics and Ethics in the Chthulucene: A Case Study of “Outcast” Women Artists’

1.00pm – 2.00pm: Lunch

2.00pm – 2.30pm: Kirsten Forkert (Media, Birmingham City University) – ‘Austerity, Right Populism and the Public Mood’

2.30pm -3.00pm: Seb Franklin (Kings College, London) and Penny Newell (Kings College, London) – ‘The Economics of Abnormality’

3.00pm – 4.00pm: Steve Hall (Criminology, Teeside University) – ‘System Reboot: Steve Bannon’s Dream as the Restoration of the Pseudo-Pacification Process’

4.00pm – 4.30pm: Coffee

4.30pm – 5.45pm: Doug Kellner (Education, UCLA, USA) – ‘Donald Trump, Media Spectacle, and Authoritarian Populism’

6.00pm – 7.00pm: Arthur Kroker (Political Science, University of Victoria, Canada) – ‘Fake Futures’


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Ethnicities, Counterpublics, Appropriation and Social Media: Registration open!

Dear all

Registration is now open for our one-day symposium on Ethnicities, Counterpublics, Appropriation and Social Media on June 8th 2017  at Keele University.

This symposium aims to explore the dynamics of minority representation and self-representation in social media.

Attendance is free but spaces are limited so please register below at your earliest convenience and by the latest on 25th May 2017 using the link below:

The programme is as follows:

9.00 am: Welcome coffee

9.30 am: Opening remarks

9.45 am: Speakers: Ed de Quincey, Eva Giraud and Elizabeth Poole, Keele University: ‘Who speaks for Muslims? Political frictions and the politics of appropriation in social media’

10.30 am: short break

10.45 am: Panel 1 – Examining Populist and Nationalist discourse on social media

  • Gerwin van Schie, Utrecht University and Iris Muis, Utrecht University, “Liberation Begins with Stating the Facts” Rationalization of Discrimination through Data in Populist Rhetoric on Twitter ‘
  • Nicolás López Coombs, University of Antwerp and Gerwin van Schie, Utrecht Data School ‘Between Epistemic Empowerment and Epistemic Violence: Ethno-racial Categorization in Dutch Governmental Open Data’
  • Munira Cheema, University of Sussex ‘Revisiting patriotism: The rise of liberal Pakistan on social media’

12.15 pm: Lunch (provided)

1.15 – 2.15  Speaker: Pollyanna Ruiz, University of Sussex, ‘Protest, power and social media; The dynamics of masking in offline and online public spaces’.

2:15 -3.45 pm: Panel 2 – Self-representation and counter-discourse online

  • Kaarina Nikunen, University of Tampere, ‘Migrant Tales: counter-voices in digital landscape’
  • Ally McCrow-Young, University of Copenhagen, ‘Protesting terror: Counter-narratives of the ISIS conflict’

.     Beth Johnson, University of Leeds, ‘#MoreInCommon: Empathy, Emotion and Intervention’

3.45 – 4pm short break

4-5pm Speaker 2: Dima Saber, Birmingham City University, ‘Winning the fake news battle amidst chaos: How Arab activists are taking back the narratives of their wars and revolutions’

5-5.15 pm: Concluding remarks

More information is available @

Please e-mail any further questions to

We look forward to seeing you there!

Concluding this year’s Digital Video module

What a term! And what a shame it’s already coming to an end! To mark the end of this year’s Digital Video module, we had a special Student Film of the Year award! Voted for by the Digital Video students themselves, Anonymous received the best film award.

Amy, Przemek, Fang Yi and Aria with their awards

Created by Amy, Przemek, Fang Yi, Aria and AJ, the film Anonymous addresses the problem of alcohol addiction and the importance of coming forward to share your own, or a friend’s, struggle with it.

After the award ceremony we all went outside to get a group photo.

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Group selfie!

Well done to all of our Digital Video students for the great effort put into your films and workbooks!

Animals in Lund!

Last week I spend 3 fantastic days at Lund University, in Sweden, as part of an Erasmus exchange. I mostly taught on the module Critical Animal Studies: Animals in the Media, Culture & Society, but also had the opportunity for some tutorials with postgraduate students working on fantastic projects about online environmental activism.

The morning session was a more formal research-led lecture and workshop , which was focused on activism surrounding animals (see here for a sense of the subject matter I engaged with specifically). I worked with some fantastic scholar-activists with expertise in areas including animal ethology and the politics of civil disobedience, and a range of issues were covered – from corporate ‘greenwashing’ to theoretical debates surrounding animal ethics.

The afternoon was taken up with a seminar (also open to members of the public, as well as those enrolled on the course) that was focused on the politics of animal research. I presented work along with Nuria Almiron (from Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona). Although I enjoyed the whole day, I found the questions and discussion surrounding the afternoon seminar especially provocative – so many thanks to all who attended. Thanks also needs to go to the Lund University Critical Animal Studies Network – especially the teaching team Tobias, Jana, Kurt and Ally, for making me feel so welcome!

Here are a few photos from the week, more can be found here: