International Online Conference: Activating Attention

Welche Rolle können politisch engagierte Videos und insbesondere Videoaktivismus in aktuellen und zukünftigen politischen Diskursen einnehmen? (in english)

Datum / Dauer:
20. - 21.01.2022
 (öffnet Vergrößerung des Bildes)
Image Credits: Tom Hilton

Videos on social media have become powerful and creative means of influencing public discourses. They are particularly significant for political activists from civil society and their attempts to gain attention for human rights, climate change, social justice, and many other issues. Moving images spread across digital networks, reach the public and evoke emotions, motivate political action, and inspire social movements. What started in the 2010s with pro-democracy movements in the MENA region and transnational anti-capitalist protests has developed into an indispensable form of media practice for all politically involved interventions, from Black Lives Matter to Fridays for Future and resistance movements in authoritarian countries like Belarus or Myanmar.

However, the power of political videos is also challenged by the conditions of the attention ecology of social networks. Video activists are subjected to the algorithms and business models of powerful platform corporations. They compete with professional PR machines, orchestrated disinformation, mass media, and, not least, with each other. At the same time, they are confronted with far-right attacks, online harassment, and government surveillance.

In this discursive context, the notion of activating attention refers to the widespread attempts, beliefs, and hopes of activists not only to attract, but strategically activate public attention. What aesthetic forms, what production and distribution strategies, but also what kind of ethical problems and trade-offs evolve under these media conditions? 

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DAY 1: THURSDAY 20 January

4.00-4:30 PM:          Introduction

Britta Hartmann (University of Bonn), Chris Tedjasukmana (University of Mainz), Jens Eder (Film University Babelsberg): Political Videos on Social Media: Strategies and Challenges

Tobias Gralke (University of Bonn): Activating Attention in Climate Video Activism

4:30-5:30 PM:          Attention Ecologies

(Chair: Jens Eder)

Yves Citton (University of Paris VIII): Activated Attention

5:30-6:00 PM:          Break

6:00-7:30 PM:          Videos in Current Protest Movements

(Chair: Alena Strohmaier, University of Marburg)

Sophija Savtchouk (Belarusian Community in Germany RAZAM): Peaceful Resistance and Video Protest: One Year on from the Presidential Elections in Belarus

Şirin Erensoy (Film University of Babelsberg): New Activist Diaspora from Turkey in Germany: Audio-Visual Production on Integration, Migration and Identity

Josepha Wessels (Malmö University): Revolutionary Video Activism in and from Syria

Tom Divon (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Playful Activism: Memetic Performances of Palestinian Resistance on TikTok



DAY 2: FRIDAY 21 January

4:00-5:30 PM:          Panel Discussion: Activist Experiences and Strategies

(Chairs: Tobias Gralke and Chris Tedjasukmana)

with i.a. Marcus Bösch (Understanding TikTok), German Gordejev (ePramova), Marco Heinig (Leftvision), Aslı Kotaman (University of Bonn) + Güliz Sağlam (Documentary Filmmaker & Video Activist), Patricia Machmutoff (Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen)

5:30-6:00 PM:          Break

6:00-7:30 PM:          Activist Image Practices in Platform Ecologies

(Chairs: Jens Eder and Britta Hartmann)

Kerstin Schankweiler (TU Dresden): Between Testimony and Testimonial: Video Selfies in Protest Movements

Tina Askanius (Malmö University): Alternative Influence Networks and Video Activism of the Far-Right in Sweden

Sandra Ristovska (University of Colorado Boulder): Human Rights Video Activism as a Proxy Profession


Subsequently General Discussion