Presentation Title

Gendered Surveillance: Queer Ugandans in the China-Africa Digital Relationship

Faculty Mentor

Movindri Reddy

Start Date

23-11-2019 8:45 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 9:00 AM

Location

Markstein 211

Session

oral 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Using technology to organize activism is a crucial element of modern queer movements. However, activists in some countries not only deal with laws criminalizing queer existence, but also with government censorship of social media and queer content, as well as surveillance of opposition figures. Although the Internet has created digital spaces that are used by activists, political and social institutions in Uganda have disenfranchised marginalized communities, especially queer communities, from these spaces. But this anti-queer digital manipulation cannot be viewed as purely a domestic project. Contemporary Ugandan sexual and organizational norms were shaped by British colonialism, and telecommunications infrastructure and surveillance technology comes from China. In my research, I explore the question of “Where does the postcolonial digital African state, in the wake of influence due to Sino-African exchange as well as religious, political, and economic actors, situate queer Ugandans as digital citizens?” I begin by establishing the respective political, cultural, and technological contexts relevant to the digital expression of queer Ugandans. I continue by analyzing how the specific situation of Ugandan anti-queer censorship and surveillance calls for a new framework of “digital colonialism,” which situates the personal data of queer Ugandans as a resource in which they are simultaneously profited off of and punished. I evaluate this framework by looking at the case of Stella Nyanzi, a queer activist currently imprisoned on charges of cyber harassment. Through this, I hope to investigate the ramifications of digital globalization, and by extension, the potential of the Internet to further queer liberation.

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Nov 23rd, 8:45 AM Nov 23rd, 9:00 AM

Gendered Surveillance: Queer Ugandans in the China-Africa Digital Relationship

Markstein 211

Using technology to organize activism is a crucial element of modern queer movements. However, activists in some countries not only deal with laws criminalizing queer existence, but also with government censorship of social media and queer content, as well as surveillance of opposition figures. Although the Internet has created digital spaces that are used by activists, political and social institutions in Uganda have disenfranchised marginalized communities, especially queer communities, from these spaces. But this anti-queer digital manipulation cannot be viewed as purely a domestic project. Contemporary Ugandan sexual and organizational norms were shaped by British colonialism, and telecommunications infrastructure and surveillance technology comes from China. In my research, I explore the question of “Where does the postcolonial digital African state, in the wake of influence due to Sino-African exchange as well as religious, political, and economic actors, situate queer Ugandans as digital citizens?” I begin by establishing the respective political, cultural, and technological contexts relevant to the digital expression of queer Ugandans. I continue by analyzing how the specific situation of Ugandan anti-queer censorship and surveillance calls for a new framework of “digital colonialism,” which situates the personal data of queer Ugandans as a resource in which they are simultaneously profited off of and punished. I evaluate this framework by looking at the case of Stella Nyanzi, a queer activist currently imprisoned on charges of cyber harassment. Through this, I hope to investigate the ramifications of digital globalization, and by extension, the potential of the Internet to further queer liberation.