Associate professor Oana Brindusa Albu (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark):

Managing visibilities through communication: The shades and shadows of activism in repressive contexts

“In this talk I will explore the role of managing visibilities in relation to care, safety and sustainability of NGOs that work in vulnerable contexts. Specifically, I will explore how visibilities are produced and managed, and how they transform the work of activists operating in repressive contexts. Theoretically, in this talk I blend perspectives from visibility and activism research and build on a recent multi sited ethnographic study I conducted in a non-profit organization. The contribution of the talk is to research and practice situated at the intersection of visibility and activism : firstly, I identify the social and material agencies involved in the production of different dimensions of visibilities (mildly shaded and mostly shadowed). Secondly, I discuss how the three identified relational imbrications of agencies (encryption, obfuscation, and concealment) at times empower and undermine the efforts of both activists and oppressors. The talk will conclude by providing novel insights concerning the (dis)empowering role of visibilities applicable to many collectives, corporations and institutions that rely on visibility management, as datafication is making it increasingly easy for behaviors to be seen.”

  • Oana B. Albu (PhD, Copenhagen Business School) is an associate professor at Copenhagen Business School, Department of Management, Communication and Society. Her research is situated at the intersection of social movements, science and technology and organizational communication studies.


Reader Anastasia Kavada (University of Westminster, UK):

Communicating (with) care: Vulnerability and communication for social change

“This talk will investigate how campaigning groups and social movements use digital media to communicate care and with care. The pandemic and the climate crisis have brought the notion of care more sharply to the fore. The ethics of care are based on vulnerability, perceiving it as a shared condition that unites all of us. They are also premised on interdependence, on the fact that we are all dependent on each other in order to survive. The notion of care can bring together diverse groups and social movements fighting for progressive change as it can facilitate a way of framing common struggles that is more intersectional and less exclusive. Care highlights the necessity of attending to the emotions of those associated with the campaign or the movement, from participants, to beneficiaries, to the audience at large. These emotions range from anger and pain to joy, hope and love. All these emotions have a role to play in communication for social change from: the anger that gets people to the streets, to the joy that keeps them engaged with the cause, to the love that is needed to build alternatives. Communicating care and with care on digital media thus entails nurturing people’s emotions in ways that help them to avoid burnout and compassion fatigue and to feel empowered to take action. However, care is associated with a power asymmetry between carers and those being cared for. Thus, employing the notion of care unquestioningly may help perpetuate structural inequalities, for instance, in the framing of campaign beneficiaries and participants as victims. Communicating with care on digital media also raises ethical questions around the representation of trauma and vulnerability, that are often at the centre of social change campaigns. This talk will explore these issues by focusing on examples of social movements and campaigns from the past 15 years, from the Occupy mobilisations to Black Lives Matter and to more recent protests against climate change.”

  • Anastasia Kavada is Reader in Media and Politics in the Westminster School of Media and Communication at the University of Westminster, where she leads the MA in Media, Campaigning and Social Change. Her research focuses on the links between digital media, social movements, participatory democracy, and campaigning for social change. Her work has appeared in a variety of edited books and academic journals, including Media, Culture and Society, Communication Theory, and Information, Communication and Society.