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The physical “Why the Worlds Needs Anthropologists” symposium has been postponed to May 2021, when, hopefully, the situation will be safer for everyone. The digital WWNA 2020 event, taking place at the original date of the postponed symposium, will be dedicated to discussion about digital activism (not only) in times of pandemic. 

Since “the first digital revolution” that connected Zapatistas in Chiapas with social movements and struggles all across the world, digital technology has become an inseparable element of social movements and their mobilization strategies. From the “square revolutions” in the Middle East to the citizens’ uprisings across Southern Europe, today we cannot imagine social movements without online mobilization tools as one of the crucial components of grassroots collective action. 

At the same time, the Digital world is changing and evolving at an unprecedented speed. As the Internet has provided possibilities for the utilization of more democratic and horizontal participation, the issues of privacy, surveillance, and the digital divide have equally emerged. Questions around the potential of data activism, forms of re-appropriation of the power of big data in pursuing social justice, or the role of algorithms in activist tactics are opening up. 

As the pandemic emergency has beset on our lives, alternative spaces of resistance manifested in activism enabled by the usage of social media. In our online discussion we want to explore the potential of these mobilizations, such as the mobilizations of Polish feminist movement, diverting the abortion ban proposed by the Polish government during the national lockdown emergency. By diving into effectiveness, limits and contentions of digital activism across multiple contexts, we aim to inspire and share possibilities of digital mobilizing for a more just and equal world.

Communication language: English

Event Programme

Friday, 16 October

The authors and the editors of the first collection of essays, the book project initiated by the Applied Anthropology Network, meet to clash over the future of the discipline in a post-covid world and to celebrate the “birth” of their collective project. All event participants will receive a little surprise.

You can pre-order ‘Why the World Needs Anthropologists’ here.
Marianne Maeckelbergh is a Professor of Political Anthropology at Ghent University, Belgium and Professor of Global Sociology at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Her research explores how people’s everyday political practices inform and transform the way we understand democracy. See below for her full bio.

This year's keynote address is dedicated to renowned anarchist anthropologist and activist, David Graeber, who sadly passed away earlier this year at the age of 59.

Followed by a Q&A and discussion

Saturday, 17 October

With five speakers - Alex Khasnabish, Stefania Milan, Lü Pin (吕频), John Postill and Emiliano Treré - working on/with social movements, activism, and digital mobilizing, we will explore the potentials and frictions of digital activism in today’s crises. The presentations will be available to registered WWNA participants in advance. View the speakers’ biographies below.
Convenors: Laura Korčulanin, Verónica Reyero, Hélène Veiga Gomes, Pavel Borecký

We cordially invite all network members and interested parties to collectively assess and plan future activities. The focus will be given to the growth of Satellite Events in 2021 and results of the Convenor Elections will be announced. The detailed agenda will be circulated before the meeting.


Keynote Speaker

Delivering this year's keynote address, Marianne Maeckelbergh is a Professor of Political Anthropology at Ghent University, Belgium and Professor of Global Sociology at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Her research explores how people's everyday political practices inform and transform the way we understand democracy. Her past work focused on how emerging forms of self-determination within transnational social movements challenged core assumptions underlying classic notions of democracy.

She is the Principle Investigator on the “Property and Democratic Citizenship” project funded by the European Research Council which uses conflicts over property to explore how various property regimes impact people's experiences of citizenship. She is the author of The Will of the Many: How the Alterglobalisation Movement is Changing the Face of Democracy and co-producer of the globaluprisings.org film series.
Alex Khasnabish is a writer, researcher, and teacher committed to collective liberation living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on unceded and unsurrendered Mi’kmaw territory. He is an associate professor in Sociology & Anthropology at Mount Saint Vincent University.
His research focuses on the radical imagination, radical politics, social justice, and social movements. His recent books include What Moves Us: The Lives and Times of the Radical Imagination (co-edited with Max Haiven), The Radical Imagination: Social Movement Research in the Age of Austerity (co-authored with Max Haiven), and Insurgent Encounters: Transnational Ethnography, Activism, and the Political (co-edited with Jeffrey Juris).
Stefania Milan (stefaniamilan.net) is Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at University of Amsterdam. Her work explores the interplay between digital technology, activism and governance. Stefania is the Principal Investigator of DATACTIVE (data-activism.net) and “Citizenship and standard-setting in digital networks”, funded respectively by the European Research Council and the Dutch Research Council. In 2017, she co-founded the Big Data from the South Research Initiative, investigating the impact of datafication and surveillance on communities at the margins. Stefania is the author of Social Movements and Their Technologies: Wiring Social Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013/2016) and co-author of Media/Society (Sage, 2011).
Lü Pin(吕频)is a leading Chinese feminist activist focusing on strategic advocacy to combat gender-based discrimination and violence, and also an award-winning independent journalist. She started her work on women’s rights in the late 1990s. In 2009, she founded Feminist Voices, China’s largest new media platform on women’s issues. Since 2012, she has been devoted to supporting the activism of young feminists across China. She now resides in New York State of the US, where she continues to follow the feminist movement in China closely. She is a Ph.D. student of Political Science at Rutgers University.
John Postill gained a PhD in Anthropology at University College London in 2000. He specialises in the study of media and sociocultural change and to date has done fieldwork in Malaysia, Indonesia and Spain. He currently lectures at the School of Media and Communication, RMIT University, Melbourne. His publications include The Rise of Nerd Politics (2018), Digital Ethnography (2016), Localizing the Internet (2011), Theorising Media and Practice (2010) and Media and Nation Building (2006). He is presently working on his first novel, a work of social science fiction titled The School. He occasionally tweets as @JohnPostill.
Emiliano Treré is Senior Lecturer in Media Ecologies and Social Transformation in the School of Journalism, Media and Culture (JOMEC) at Cardiff University, UK. He is one of the co-directors of the Data Justice Lab and the co-founder of the ‘Big Data from the South’ Initiative. His latest book Hybrid Media Activism: Ecologies, Imaginaries, Algorithms (Routledge, 2019) won the Outstanding Book Award of the Interest Group ‘Activism, Communication and Social Justice’ of the International Communication Association. Twitter: @EmilianoTrere.