Feminist Media Theory: Iterations of Social Difference

Contributors include Jonathan Beller, Katrina Brown, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Dina Gadia, Cindy Gao, Marina Gržinić, Orit Halpern, Rosanna Irvine, Katie King, Deborah Levitt, Negar Mottahedeh, Roya Rastegar, Catherine Sameh, and Manuel Vason.

In his introduction to this issue of The Scholar and Feminist Online, guest editor Jonathan Beller argues that “there is no such thing as technology itself,” radically destabilizing the notion that media, in all its new forms, is a neutral, objective, and disembodied space. As constructed by contemporary capitalism, new media platforms can reproduce forms of inequalities and relations of power that shape the lives and bodies of so many around the globe. Much as feminist science studies shifted the epistemological assumptions of objective, disembodied knowing, so too can feminist media theory surface, as Beller writes, “the white masculine privilege in knowledge making.”

This issue makes critical interventions in both media studies and feminism. As much of media studies lauds the post-identity potential of new media platforms, eliding the question of difference, the scholars, activists, and cultural workers here remind us of the importance of critical media theory informed by the intellectual and political contributions of those struggling for justice in all its feminist, queer, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, transnational, and anti-imperialist forms. So, too, do the contributors invite an engagement with the traditions of feminism—post-colonial, women of color, queer, etc.—that have radically destabilized a universalized subject called “woman.”

As theorists, artists, and mediators in their own right, the contributors to this important and timely issue seek to engage with conversations across various disciplines, platforms, and communities, gesturing towards the dialogic and collective potential of media. Refusing a false (race, gender, sex, class, etc.) blindness, this issue asks how difference could be a resource for critical media theory, and indeed, how theorizing difference as both constitutive of and constituted through mediation might deepen the scholar and activist legacies of social justice feminisms.

The Barnard Center for Research on Women engages our communities through programming, projects, and publications that advance intersectional social justice feminist analyses and generate concrete steps toward social transformation.

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