We Need to Talk About Robots: Gender, Datafication and AI @ University of Westminster (RS UG04)
Nov 21 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
We Need to Talk About Robots: Gender, Datafication and AI @ University of Westminster (RS UG04) | England | United Kingdom
Aristea Fotopoulou (University of Brighton) – We Need to Talk About Robots: Gender, Datafication and AI

This talk reviews how the acceleration of data infrastructure development and growing adoption of data practices in everyday life are entwined with wider cultural discourses about gender and sexuality. Using artificial intelligence (AI) assistants and social robots such as Alexa and Siri as an example, it analyses these links from a feminist data studies perspective focusing on three key themes.

First, it discusses the production of gender in everyday data practices, approaching everyday interactions and the household as sites of datafication. While the household is an ideological site central in the consumption of innovative technologies and the reproduction of hierarchical gender and labour relations, contemporary data technologies introduce unique new sets of conditions.

Second, the talk examines normative inscriptions of femininity and masculinity in the design of AI technologies. Questioning binary thinking and the “black-boxing” of gender identity in data studies, it considers the role of queer subjectivity and experience in the production of scientific knowledge.

Finally, the talk reflects on recent reports of symbolic and physical violence inflicted by data, and the vulnerabilities that automation and datafication represent for women, people of colour, and marginalised communities. It examines such data harms and vulnerabilities in relation to dominant perceptions of AI assistants and robots as “social actors” to illustrate the cultural and social contradictions that the domestication of robots introduces. This way the talk reinstates central questions of power and social justice in relation to new and emerging data technologies.


Aristea Fotopoulou (@aristeaf) is the author of “Feminist Activism and Digital Networks: Between Empowerment and Vulnerability” (2017, Palgrave Macmillan/Springer) and currently writing the book “Feminist Data Studies: Big Data, Critique and Social Justice” (2020, SAGE).

Her research focuses on social transformations that relate to digital media and data-driven technologies, and she has published widely on critical issues of digital and emerging technologies from a feminist perspective, including the quantified self, wearable sensors and fitness tracking, citizen everyday data practices, digital media and activism, intersectionality and queer theory.

She is recipient of a UKRI Innovation/AHRC Leadership Fellowship and presently leads the research project ART/ DATA/ HEALTH: Data as creative material for health and wellbeing. Aristea is the editor of two special issues: “Digital Culture meets data: Critical perspectives”, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies with Helen Thornham (2020), and “Queer Feminist Media Praxis”, Ada: Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology with Alex Juhaz and Kate O’Riordan (2014).

How to Fail a Degree: Launch of The Media and Communications Study Guide @ University of Westminster (Marylebone, Room LG15 - Cayley)
Nov 25 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
How to Fail a Degree: Launch of The Media and Communications Study Guide @ University of Westminster (Marylebone, Room LG15 - Cayley) | England | United Kingdom
Launch of the much-anticipated Media and Communications Study Skills Guide by Doug Specht.

Doug Specht will be introducing his new book through a light-hearted and amusing look at what it means to undertake a degree in Media and Communications, and university life more generally. Drawing upon his 15 years of teaching experience, Doug will take us beyond the pages of this book to bring us more amusing anecdotes and some unpleasant (and embarrassing) experiences, that might just also give the audience some ideas about how to study better – and there will plenty for those who have finished their studies too. Doug’s introduction will also take us through why he felt this book was needed and how it can help students at all levels get the most from their studies.

His short talk will be followed by a reception and an opportunity to buy the book, signed by the author (if you wish).

About the book:

All the tips ideas and advice given to, and requested by, students in Media and Communications, are brought together in an easy-to-use accessible guide to help students study most effectively. Based upon many years of teaching study skills and hundreds of lecture slides and handouts it covers a range of general and generic skills that the author relates specifically towards media and communications. As well as the mechanics of writing and presentations the book also shows how students can work on and engage with the critical and contemplative elements of their degrees. Aimed primarily at postgraduate students, there is significant crossover with undergraduate dissertation writing, which would also make this book of use for upper level undergraduate work.

About the Author:

Doug Specht is a senior lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of Westminster. He has taught for 15 years across a range of sectors and countries, and now teaches digital media and communications at both undergraduate and postgraduate. He is a Senior Fellow of the HEA and holds an MAHE and PGCE.

About University of Westminster Press:

UWP was set up to enable Westminster’s research community to further engage with the global open research agenda, to enhance the university’s research environment and provide for greater dissemination of impact in its key research areas. However, authors external to the University of Westminster are a big part of our publishing programme. Part of our mission is thus to encourage the spread of open access publishing globally and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with others working in this field in a variety of ways.

Press website:

Book launch: Citizen Media and Practice @ University of Westminster (The Boardroom)
Dec 10 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Book launch: Citizen Media and Practice @ University of Westminster (The Boardroom) | England | United Kingdom

Join us for the launch of Citizen Media and Practice: Currents, Connections, Challenges – edited by Hilde C. Stephansen and Emiliano Treré (Routledge, 2019).

Organised by the Centre for the Study of Democracy in collaboration with CAMRI.

Speakers: Hilde C. Stephansen (University of Westminster) and Emiliano Treré (Cardiff University).

Discussants: Clemencia Rodríguez (Temple University, US), Nick Couldry (LSE), and Andreas Hepp (University of Bremen).

Chair: Anastasia Kavada (University of Westminster)

Refreshments provided.

About the book:

This groundbreaking collection advances understanding of the concept of media practices by critically interrogating its relevance for the study of citizen and activist media.

Media as practice has emerged as a powerful approach to understanding the media’s significance in contemporary society. Bringing together contributions from leading scholars in sociology, media and communication, social movement and critical data studies, this book stimulates dialogue across previously separate traditions of research on citizen and activist media practices and stakes out future directions for research in this burgeoning interdisciplinary field. Framed by a foreword by Nick Couldry and a substantial introductory chapter by the editors, contributions to the volume trace the roots and appropriations of the concept of media practice in Latin American communication theory; reflect on the relationship between activist agency and technological affordances; explore the relevance of the media practice approach for the study of media activism, including activism that takes media as its central object of struggle; and demonstrate the significance of the media practice approach for understanding processes of mediatization and datafication.

Internet Memes and Society: Social, Cultural and Political Contexts @ University of Westminster (RS UG04)
Dec 12 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Internet Memes and Society: Social, Cultural and Political Contexts @ University of Westminster (RS UG04) | England | United Kingdom
Anastasia Denisova (University of Westminster) – Internet Memes and Society: Social, Cultural and Political Contexts

This talk is about a recently published book on memes which provides a solid, encompassing definition of internet memes, exploring both the common features of memes around the globe and their particular regional traits. It identifies and explains the roles that these viral texts play in internet communication. It looks at cultural, social and political implications; significance for self-representation and identity formation; promotion of alternative opinion or trending interpretation; and subversive and resistant power in relation to professional media, propaganda, and political campaigning. It also offers unique comparative case studies of internet memes in Russia and the United States.

The book explains the past and present of the memes; how they originated in tactical media, emoticons and cartoons and how they evolved into ‘fast-food media’, ‘political mindbombs’ and everyday digital folklore. The monograph further examines the potential future of memes and their rising influence for culture, media and politics. Half-baked jokes screaming for our attention and sense of humour – memes are persistent and here to stay.


Dr. Anastasia Denisova (@AnaDenisova) is a Lecturer in Journalism at CAMRI, University of Westminster. Prior to her academic career, she was working as a reporter and international editor for a national broadcaster, and as the editor and columnist for various magazines.

Her research publications include articles for Media, Culture and Society; Social Media + Society; Comparative Sociology; M/C Journal. Anastasia’s work explores digital satire, viral cultures, political rap and social media, digital journalism, and resistant cultures on Twitter and YouTube.