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).

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.