Accepted Paper:

‘We can’t breathe’ – race/mourning/digital media/utopia  
Ashwani Sharma (London College of Commumication, University of the Arts)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines digital video, social media, and online networks as modes of collective memory, mourning, and cultural resistance, in relation to contemporary events of racial violence and death such as the Grenfell tower fire and the killing of George Floyd. What forms of techno-utopia are emerging to counter the dominant media spectacle of this ‘necropolitical violence’ circulating in public networks?

Paper long abstract:

The tragic (media) events such as the Grenfell tower fire and the killing of African-Americans by the police are symptoms of the failings of the state, neoliberal violence, and the contemporary crisis of racial (network) capitalism. Alternative digital media and communication networks are engendering forms of social organising, everyday multiculture, and collective mourning and remembrance of the dead - from real-time, viral videos of live coverage of protests, mobile phone street photographs, to online music videos of remembrance? To what extent are these mutating archives of digital fragments creating autonomous black/brown sociality and historical memory countering the amnesia of the racial state and corporate media? The paper considers how these digital ‘(infra)structures of feeling’ invent forms of ‘concrete utopias’, radically reimagining the temporality and spatiality of urban life and social resistance. Can digital everyday life offer forms of utopian ‘techno-poesis’ in times of tragedy and pessimism?

Panel P16b
Global Black Lives Matter: representations of resistance, memory and politics
  Session 1