[iDC] activism now and

Megan Boler mboler at oise.utoronto.ca
Thu Dec 8 16:04:40 EST 2005

brian.holmes at wanadoo.fr writes:
>My belief is that the 
>possibility of instantaneous cross-continental communication 
>and self-made media is still pretty strong. 

the tension: productive dissent  "vs." powerlessness

 the political expressions produced through self-made media are
phenomenal, inspiring and circulate more widely and in increasingly divese
forms all the time.i am studying what i call "digital dissent" with a
large team, and one of sites we are studying is jon stewart's appearance
on crossfire (the top-cited media event in the blogosphere in 2004) where
he told the MSM off for "hurting America" and calls for the civic
responsibility of media to publics.  it is amazing how much chatter this
event continues to cause amongst diverse online networks, debating the
role of media in contemporary political landscape.  similarly, studying
blogs about the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Bushin30Seconds, what I am
examining is how people talk about "lies" "truth" and what counts as
"reality."  all of these sites of dissent give me hope.

at the same time,the weight of despair is heavy and palpable.   as i speak
nationally and internationally students and scholars in very different
contexts  express powerlessness in the face of corporatism.

we need a new theory 
that articulates the multi-directionality of subjectivity and media in an
era of fast-paced convergence and production.

in media education--and i think in media studies--it is truly difficult to
do all of the following simultaneously:
--avoid a theory of overdetermining reproduction, 
--attend to the realities of materiality and economics
-- maintain a language that is not only about resistance but about
--integrate a theory of networks and publics
--account for media convergence 

in media education the current dominant discourse tends to be "play" and
"pleasure" (e.g. gaming) as [the] form of agency.  i find this

tonite i am gathering together canadian scholars and activists who are
trying to articulate new ways of understanding subjectivity, consumer
culture, and capital.  it seems like a cliche to say the theories of
agency we have are inadequate, but there is a clamor for new approaches
that help make sense of these tensions of praxis being discussed in this

last night for the end of semester i turned us to this stand-by quote from
donna haraway:

"So I think my problem and "our" problem is how to have simultaneously an
account of radical historical contingency for all knowledge claims and
knowing subjects, a critical practice for recognizing our own "semiotic
technologies" for making meanings, and a no-nonsense commitment to
faithful accounts of a 'real' world, one that can be partially shared and
friendly to earth-wide projects of finite freedom, adequate material
abundance, modest meaning in suffering, and limited happiness
" (Situated

The most challenging aspect of haraway's call is the "no-nonsense
commitment to faithful accounts of a 'real' world." 

Because of the seriousness of this political moment, I increasingly lose
patience with solely scholarly commitments and instead feel we have an
obligation to act as public intellectuals in political realms.  My aim is
to make convincing arguments about what counts as a "faithful accounts of
a 'real' world" and incite hope by offering inspiring examples of
production and modeling the political engagement i want to see in others.

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