Covid-19, Digital Activism and the Changing Dynamics of Social Movements I

Type: Virtual Panel
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 36
Organizers: Nathalia Santos Ocasio
Chairs: Hilal Kara


The declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organisation in mid-March 2020 disrupted mass mobilizations taking place across different geographies. As many have turned to the internet to maintain the movements’ momentum, their sites and strategies have shifted. Simultaneously, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by US police forces and the racial inequalities highlighted by the pandemic re-energized the Black Lives Matter movement on a global scale. However, while movements have expanded their demands and allyships in this conjuncture, they are set against a backdrop of risks, including surveillance, police abuse, and viral contagion. On this panel, we address the dynamics of in-person and digital activism and social movements – both largely understood – during the global pandemic. We pay specific attention to the limits of ‘slacktivism’ and performative activism, as more people are able to “join” virtual movements. At the same time, we reflect on the transformative potential of emerging digital spaces during pandemic-mandated lockdowns. Drawing on stories from Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States that highlight demands for housing, racial justice, women’s rights and climate justice, we reflect on the shifting strategies of activism and social movements, including the circulation of art, the act of “acuerpamiento” (or self-summoning to protect vulnerable bodies) and the re-purposing of online platforms for social movement building. Through a discussion of these cases, we will explore the changing dynamics of social movements, including raising concerns about unequal internet access and surveillance, and the increasing use of smartphones in activism. Here, we are attentive to the repercussions, on a local and global scale, of putting one’s body and IP address on the line for social justice.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Panelist Nathalia Santos Ocasio 15 8:00 AM
Panelist Benjamin Weinger 15 8:15 AM
Panelist Simone Tulumello UNIVERSIDADE DE LISBOA 15 8:30 AM
Panelist Gisselle Vila Benites The University of Melbourne 15 8:45 AM
Introduction Hilal Kara Queen's University 10 9:00 AM

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