Ordinary Ethics and #MeToo – Unpacking the appropriation of technology for empowerment in India

Authors: Persis Taraporevala*, King's College London
Topics: Gender, Cyberinfrastructure, Legal Geography
Keywords: MeToo, Smart Cities, Gender, Ethics,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Washington 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The #MeToo movement has re-emerged in India and unleashed practical and epistemological predicaments within the worlds of social justice, feminism and digital media. This paper argues that interconnected, albeit splintering (Graham & Marvin, 2002), notion of digital space must be studied in order to understand the real-life manifestations of change in the ‘actually existing’ (Shelton, Zook, & Wiig, 2014) smart cities and indeed nation-states. This paper seeks to locate the Indian #MeToo movement within global processes of fourth wave feminism (Munro, 2013) and, more specifically, the post-Weinstein era of digitally crowdsourced knowledges of sexual misconduct (Corcione, 2018). The paper utilises the lens of ordinary ethics (Lambek, 2010) towards unpacking and understanding the various iterations of this movement.

This paper identifies the 2017 ‘List of Sexual Harassers in Academia’ (LoSHA) as the first iteration of the #MeToo movement and the ongoing Indian digitally crowdsourced knowledge bank of sexual harassment, from October 2018, as the second iteration. These testimonies of lived experience are disruptors that have made ‘explicit’ the ordinary ethics of sexual misconduct and have created rifts within feminist groups. (Menon, 2018) (Chatterjee, 2018) (Dutt, 2018) (Singh, 2018) The #MeToo movement is still unfolding and it would be imprudent to offer universalist or prescriptive ethical arguments, instead this paper offers to bring an ‘ethical turn’ (Lambek, 2010) to the conversation and unpacks how and by whom digital technology is appropriated in this quest of enacting gender-based social justice.

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