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Black Women in Parliament and on Social Media: Link Visibility as an Intersectional and Solidarity-Building Tool

A Research Paper by Andrea Medrado, Renata Souza and Monique Paulla, published by Global Perspectives

Andrea Medrado’s article “Black Women in Parliament and on Social Media: Link Visibility as an Intersectional and Solidarity-Building Tool” has just been published by the Global Perspectives Journal. The article draws from a collaborative autoethnographic approach and was written with Renata Souza (Rio de Janeiro State Legislator) and Monique Paulla (Universidade Federal Fluminense). The aim is to tackle the multiple facets of visibility, ranging from a lack of recognition in society to hypervisibility for commodification and criminalisation purposes. The authors analyse the specific implications of achieving social media visibility for Black Brazilian women in politics. They ask: when does visibility help to protect Black women? And when does visibility bring even greater vulnerability? In the article, they propose the concept of “link visibility” as a process led by women of colour who need a high degree of social media publicness but are affected disproportionately by online harassment and abuse. The argument is that link visibility can represent a tool for solidarity building, helping bind oppressed realities in Brazil and elsewhere. The authors also interrogate what can be done to protect women of colour online, stopping violence and fear.

 

Abstract

This article tackles the multiple facets of visibility, ranging from invisibility, a lack of recognition in society, to hypervisibility, when bodies are hyperexposed for commodification or criminalization purposes. We analyze the specific implications of achieving media visibility for one Black Brazilian woman in politics: Renata Souza, a Rio de Janeiro state legislator. Souza’s campaign and mandate have drawn inspiration from the legacy of Marielle Franco, a Black lesbian favela-born city councillor and human rights advocate who was murdered in March 2018. Our theoretical framework consists of three strands of research: visibility studies, intersectional feminism, and intersectional work on technologies and surveillance. We draw from autoethnographic approaches with the use of field notes, audio diaries, and interviews with members of Souza’s staff. We complement these with digital ethnographic observations of Souza’s and her allies’ social media profiles. We ask: If visibility is a goal for groups that are marginalized and silenced, what happens when they achieve it? When does visibility help to protect Black women? And when does visibility bring even greater vulnerability? In this article, we propose and define the concept of “link visibility” as a process led by women of color who need a high degree of social media publicness but are affected disproportionately by visibility-induced high levels of vulnerability. We argue that link visibility represents an intersectional feminist approach as well as a tool for solidarity building, and that both—intersectionality and link visibility—help bind oppressed realities in Brazil and elsewhere. Finally, we interrogate what can be done to protect women of color online, stopping the violence, threats, and fear.

Andrea Medrado

About

Andrea Medrado is a Lecturer at the Westminster School of Media and Communication. Prior to moving (back) to London, she worked as a Tenured Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication and at the Postgraduate Programme in Media and Everyday life of Federal Fluminense University (UFF) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She worked as the Co-Investigator for the eVoices Network, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), exploring different uses of digital technologies and art-ivism (art + activism) to fight marginalisation in countries of the Global South. In July 2020, she was elected Vice President of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), and she also acted as the Co-Chair of the Community Communication and Alternative Media Section (CAM) for four years (2016-2020).

Details

Date
9 June 2021
Published By
Global Perspectives
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