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Thursday, October 11 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Transnational Practices of/in Digital Networks

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Rikke Andreassen
This paper explores the transnational materialities that occur in the wake of the increased online availability and commercialization of donor sperm. Over the past decade, an increasing number of lesbian couples and single women have created families through the assistance of donor sperm. At the same time, online shopping and social media sites have become widespread and commonly used. While these developments have appeared simultaneously, they are seldom explored together; this paper illustrates the intersections of online media and new kinship, and shows how they must be analyzed as interlinked in order for us to understand contemporary formations of kinship and race.

A large number of women conceived via sperm from the world’s largest sperm bank ‘Cryos International’. The paper argues that the online commercial market of sperm can be seen as a double-edged sword, which on one hand enables women to reproduce without men and results in new forms of kinships. On the other hand, the same market – and especially the media affordances of online shopping – re-inscribes ideas of race as a fixed and hierarchical category. The paper situates itself within the scholarly intersection of social media, queer kinship studies and critical race and whiteness studies. Through analysis of Facebook groups, connecting parents of donor-conceived children, in-depth interviews and analysis of Cryos International’s website, the paper examines the racial constructions, especially whiteness, in online sperm shopping and new kinship making, and shows how the media affordances may lead to an understanding of racial categories as ‘fixed’, ‘material’ and ‘objective’.

Emma Maguire
Erika Lust is an erotic filmmaker and the creator of the XConfessions website and series of films. The XConfessions website encourages users to submit "confessions," which, in this context, means their sexual fantasies and experiences. Users comment on each other's confessions and, in a transmedia twist, Lust chooses the best ones and makes them into short erotic films. Through sharing and commenting on each other's fantasies and experiences in a message board forum, an international community of "Lusties" (users of and contributors to the site) has developed around the life narrative mode of confession. Furthermore, Lust articulates her project as an ethical and feminist one, aimed at creating erotica that foregrounds female desire and is made by and for women.

This paper explores XConfessions as a site for transnational materiality at which to examine contemporary intersections of gender, sexuality and technology, as well as one that reflects shifting political and creative economies of streaming media.

I ask what kinds of sexual subjectivities are brought into being in the space of XConfessions via its community norms and its specific media platform. By analysing the affordances and content of XConfessions.com, I investigate how the digital community model is employed to coax particular (sexual, digital) performances of selfhood using the confessional mode, and to crowdsource creative labour. What social, technological and textual relations structure these networked self-presentations? And what can this site tell us about the way intimacy, sexualities, and identities are mediated via digital interfaces and networks?

Amy Johnson
The official government user occupies a curious place on social media platforms. Often driven by a mandate to “be where the public is” and maximize emergency communication channels, the government user operates with different priorities, different legal and bureaucratic requirements, and different voicing challenges than the general or advertising user. While national governments may see social media presences of government agencies from around the world as reflecting an international political system, from the perspective of platforms, such accounts are part of a transnational government user class.

Drawing on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accommodations for government users across languages, listserv archives of US government social media managers, and scholarship on global shutdowns and censorship, this paper examines 1) how the government user class compares with other platform user classes; 2) who qualifies as a government user; and 3) how treatment of government users differs within this transnational category. It argues that the platform system both shapes and marginalizes the government user class, with consequences that extend beyond digital channels.

Susan Noh
This paper explores the possibility of a transnational fan activist movement sustained through online activity, looking at a case study of the National D.Va Association as an example of one entity that is currently aspiring to gain a global following through their media coverage of local initiatives. This group primarily exercises influence in South Korea as a small, but vocal advocate for the equal treatment of women and gender-queer gamers in Korea’s gaming scene. When the national Women’s March occurred in Washington, DC, in January 21, 2017, this inspired sister protest marches around the world. The National D.Va Association’s flag, which bears the mascot of Overwatch’s heroine, D.Va, was caught on camera in the Korean Women’s March and through exposure from Twitter and a variety of popular culture news sites, this group caught the attention of fans and viewers abroad. Taking advantage of the attention they were getting, the National D.Va Association began using their social media in a more intentional manner that would spread their message beyond South Korea’s borders.

Fascinated by the possibility and implications of engaging fan activism across national borders, I analyze the efficacy of the social media strategies that this group employs in order to engage with an international audience and observe the ways in which this group positions itself intentionally and actively with Western discourses of feminism.

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre