Registration is now open for the Staging Illusion: Digital and Cultural Fantasy conference, which is organised by my colleague Russell Pearce and others in the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies & the Centre for Material Digital Culture at Sussex Uni.
I’ll be giving a paper on the The remediation of real bodies in genderqueer online porn: politics, control and affective labour. See abstract below and the conference tumblr blog here:
Online environments and web 2.0 platforms today appear as sites of experimentation and as opportunities to construct brand new sexual identities. The websites of queer alternative porn production companies increasingly employ the language of ‘real’ bodies. This opens up questions about the mediation of social meanings about queer and women in these sites. What kinds of publics are forming around this mediation?
Recent studies of online queer porn production have focused on questions of user authenticity (Attwood, 2010; Mowlabocus, 2010). These are concerned with the incompatibility between embodied actuality and ideal fluid cybersubjectivity (Wakeford, 2002; O’Riordan, 2007). However apart from user control, issues of authenticity in online queer alternative porn can be fruitfully thought as forms of labour.
This paper analyses discourses of authenticity in the websites nofauxxx.com and Furry Girl, two production companies from the field of genderqueer porn, which incorporate sexual and feminist politics in some way. The first component of my argument is that, in ‘real‘ body discourses, this kind of porn production appears un-mediated. The mediation aspects of digital culture are in this process occluded. Secondly, I suggest that through this emphasis on queer visibility and authenticity, sexuality is constructed both as a disciplinary site and a site for value extraction. In particular, as ‘real’ bodies in these cases translate into diverse, inclusive and multiple, they create new needs and desires for politically sensitive lesbian consumers in neoliberal societies.
UPDATE: My article entitled ‘Remediating queer politics in online porn: Brand(ed) new sexualities and real bodies’, will be published in the special issue ‘Revolting Bodies: Desiring Lesbians’, in the Journal of Lesbian Studies (Forthcoming).
This is the title of my thesis, submitted on the 26th of September 2011. I’m waiting for the viva – which is in January and meanwhile teaching and updating the blog. Here are the chapters of my thesis:
Aristea Fotopoulou, PhD Thesis, University of Sussex
“Remediating politics: feminist and queer formations in digital networks”
Rethinking mediation, politicisation and embodiment
Feminist digital networks: remediating issues and identities
Reterritorialisation and queer counterpublics: producing locality and
Postporn networks: making scarcity and forming affective intensities
Feminist biopolitics of reproductive technologies: egg donation debates
My thesis examines feminist and queer actors emerging in highly mediated environments and the forms of political organisation and critical knowledge production they engage in. It indicates that older debates around gender and sexuality are being reformulated in digital networks and identifies alternative understandings of politics and community which arise in this context. The study foregrounds a performative conceptualisation and argues that political realities are produced in dynamic configurations of communication media, discourses and bodies. It suggests that network technologies constitute sources of vulnerability and anxiety for feminists and stresses the significance of registering how embodied subjectivities emerge from these experiences.
To achieve its aims and to map activity happening across different spaces and scales, my doctoral project attended to context-specific processes of mediation at the intersections of online and offline settings. It employed ethnographic methods, internet visualisation, in-depth interviewing and textual analysis to produce the following key outcomes: it registered changing understandings of the political in relation to new media amongst a network of women’s organisations in London; it investigated the centrality of social media and global connections in the shaping of local queer political communities in Brighton; it complicated ideas of control, labour and affect to analyse emerging sexual identities in online spaces like nofauxx.com, and offline postporn events; finally, it traced feminist actors gathering around new reproductive technologies, at the crossing fields of grassroots activism and the academy.
Today, women’s groups and queer activists increasingly use networked communication for mobilisation and information-sharing. In a climate of widespread scepticism towards both representational politics and traditional media, questions about the role of digital networks in enabling or limiting political engagement are being raised. My thesis aims to contribute to these debates by accounting for the ways in which feminist and queer activists in digital networks reformulate the relationship between communication media and politics.