Jemima Repo, ‘The Commodification of Feminist Protest’ (10 April 2019)

Wednesday, 10 April 2019, from 2pm to 4pm, Porthania P545 (Faculty room).

This talk theorises and examines ‘feminist commodity activism’; a form of activism where capitalist consumption comes to stand in as a feminist act. Taking the popularisation of the feminist T-shirt after the 2018 Women’s March as a point of entry to discuss how feminist dissent has been commodified, the paper compares contemporary and historical objects of feminist protest, focusing on changes in aesthetics, the mode of production, and the construction of the feminist subject. Not only large corporations but also some small, independent, for-profit enterprises are emerging as ‘activist’ actors, transforming participation from collective protest to non-representative and individualistic forms of action. This raises several problems for feminism, not only in the co-optation of the aesthetics and practices of dissent by capitalism, but also the economisation of feminist subjectivity as well as the foreclosing of the feminist critique of capitalism from the political project of feminism.

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Jemima Repo is Lecturer in the Politics of Gender at Newcastle University, UK. She received her PhD from the University of Helsinki, where she is also a Docent in Gender Studies. Her book, The Biopolitics of Gender (OUP, 2015), was awarded the 2017 International Studies Association Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Book Prize. She co-edits the journal Contemporary Political Theory.

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