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Contested Visibilities: Everyday politics and online imaginaries of the body

  • 06.09.2023
  • 08.09.2023
  • Lisbon, Portugal

6-8 September 2023

Lusófona University, Lisbon, Portugal

While in the early days of the internet, the digital was often seen as purely virtual and detached from the experience of human embodiment, our current online landscape has challenged this view. Social media seems to have awakened the urge to share images of our bodies. These shared visual representations contribute to the creation of individual and collective identities. They are tools of meaning-making and belonging in a highly mediatised world. Their visibility can be part of advertising campaigns, everyday interactions, intimate practices, activist engagement and many other affective practices. These are situated in digital cultures of affect and their inherent normativity is governed not only by social norms but also by the particular possibilities and algorithmic rules of platforms.

Contested online environments have also become terrain for contemporary social justice movements and activists who both respond to and use online visual representations for their actions. These hybrid activist practices rely on embodied representations and combine online and offline activities. While online spaces enable important visibility, this visibility also carries risks and raises questions about who prefers not to be visible and what practices of resistance can be adopted. Digital participation is inextricably linked to embodied characteristics (e.g., gender, ethnicity, social class, age, (dis)ability or others). These intersecting identities can shape digital experiences enabling them to both liberate and oppress individuals and communities.

Invited speakers

Daniela Jaramillo-Dent | University of Zurich

Daniela Jaramillo-Dent is an internet scholar with research and teaching expertise on migration, digital media, and social justice. Her research has explored algorithmic (in)visibility, minority representation and inequality in digital platforms. She has contributed to and held leadership roles in research projects at the local, national and European levels. She has international teaching experience in fields related to digital inequality, research methods and media literacy and has led teaching innovation projects and training workshops for innovative teaching in Higher Education.

Marloes Geboers | University of Amsterdam

Marloes Geboers’ work revolves around the visuality of warfare as produced within and through platforms and their fast-evolving participatory modalities. Her dissertation focused on platform affective affordances and their role in constructing regimes of visibility relating to the Syrian war. Alongside these topics, she authored work on platform-afforded digital violence aimed at journalists. She blends digital methods and automated image analyses in order to study performative expressions that replicate, imitate or subvert propaganda narratives in more or less tactical ways. These user practices shape and are shaped by platform vernaculars that have a profound impact on the way we see and experience war within contemporary media ecologies. Marloes has a background in political science (MA) and journalism (BA), and she has teaching experience in digital methods and the ethics of AI.

Katrin Tiinberg | Tallinn University

Katrin Tiidenberg works at the Baltic Film, Media and Arts School of Tallinn University as a Professor of Participatory Culture. Her research focuses on the hows and whys of people's social media practices, with a particular emphasis on visuality, sex and political participation. The overarching questions she tends to ask are about identity, community, norms and power. She is currently wrapping up a research project on the platformization of sexuality (Rethinking Sexuality) and the role of the internet in young people’s political participation (DigiGen) and has just started a project on visual digital trust (TRAVIS).


The conference will include different formats for presentation on topics related to contested visibilities, everyday politics and online imaginaries of the body. We welcome individual submissions for oral presentations, which will be arranged in thematic sessions by the organising team. We also welcome submissions in alternative and creative formats, proposals may include video, audio, images, text, hyperlinks and multimedia that illustrate your reflections in the proposal. 

We are interested in abstracts that address the complexity of online representations of bodies and/or related visual practices (e.g., producing, perceiving, curating, circulating) through case studies, theoretical, empirical or methodological approaches. We strongly encourage submissions that take an intersectional approach and address embodiment in relation to social factors such as gender, sexuality, age, class, race/ethnicity, disability, and nationality. 

We are open to contributions from scholars at all career stages (early-career scholars are especially invited to participate), artists, activists, and media producers.

We look forward to submissions on (but not limited to) the following topics:

·        The use of digital media for feminist, queer, anti-racist, anti-ageist, anti-ableist, anti-classist, neurodiversity, or illness-related activism and the returning critique of the normative body;

·        Reactionary visualities to the above activism and hate speech/imaginaries "against the woke";

·        The intertwinement of socio-cultural imaginaries with platform cultures;

·        Chances and limits of hybridisation of commercial culture, strategies of self-branding and body activism;

·        Practical experiments with methods attuned to the 'online-groundedness' of social body images (e.g., body-image dominated platforms such as TikTok or Instagram);

·        Impact of online representation of bodies in various fields such as sports, memory cultures, advertising, fan/pop cultures, etc;

·        Augmented technologies of filtering, avatars and their significance for identity and meaning-making;

·        Images shared without consent, images that reproduce stereotypes and resistance by minority communities;

·        Images produced by media and news organisations as part of their work, which are ultimately criticised for 'othering'/stereotyping communities, and the activism involved;

·        Online communities as sites of political pedagogy and critique of mainstream/traditional media's stereotyping of the body;

·        Dialectical dialogues about the body in the online sphere: metadiscourses, beefs, videos about videos, Tiktok reframings;

·        Gendered and sexua(lised) digital/online representations of embodied diversity, difference and intersectionality;

·        Critical analysis of the relationships between digital spheres and gendered and sexual(ised) performativity, resistance and defiance;

·        Representations of bodies in relation to technology and artificial intelligence;

Please submit your proposal (300- 500 words) until 15 May, 23:59 (CET) using this form and highlight how your work relates to the conference topic, methods used, and perspectives you would like to bring to the discussion. In addition to the thematic sessions, the conference will also facilitate practical tutorials dedicated to creative/situated/ethical approaches to digital platforms and visual data. 

In addition, our YECREA team offers an online pre-conference workshop for early-career scholars focusing on research challenges (ethics, data access, collection, analysis etc.) via Zoom on Monday, 4 September 2023. This event will offer ECRs the opportunity to present their work in progress. If you wish to participate in the ECR pre-conference event, please submit an abstract of 200-300 words, briefly describing your current project and research challenges, e.g. in regard to research ethics, data collection, access, or analysis. The accepted participants will engage in facilitated peer discussions based on their submissions. Participation in the pre-conference YECREA workshop can be independent of participation in the conference. Please indicate how you would like to participate using this form by 15 May, 23:59 (CET). Participation in the online workshop is free of charge.


The fee includes buffet lunches and tea/coffee breaks during the three-day conference. 

non-members - 100€

ECREA members and Lusófona students - 80€

Early career Researchers - 60€

Registration opens in early July and will be processed via the Eventbrite platform.


This ECREA conference is co-organised by the Digital Culture and Communication, Gender, Sexuality and Communication and Visual Cultures sections and their YECREA representatives. 

Hosted and sponsored by Lusófona University.

The conference is partially supported by funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement Nº 101059460.

For questions, please send an email to 


·       The deadline for submissions is Monday 15 May 2023, 23:59 (CET) .

·       We will notify all contributors if their proposal has been accepted or not by the end of June

·       Registration for the conference will be open in early July

·       The event will take place on the 6-8 September 2023, at Lusófona University Lisbon. 



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