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From Risk to Resistance

Girls and Technologies of Nonviolence

Laurel Hart

From Mumbai to New York, and from Cape Town to Moscow, cell phones and other devices are becoming ubiquitous in people’s everyday lives alongside the use of various social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Despite their pervasiveness, the application of these technologies to addressing pressing global concerns such as violence toward girls and women (in universities, on the streets, in schools, and so on) is vastly under realized. Indeed, much of the work to date on mobile and social media in relation to such violence has been on its threats and harmful effects, particularly in the context of cyberbullying and other forms of online harassment (Hart and Mitchell 2015). But what are the possibilities for turning these technologies into technologies of nonviolence?

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Laurel Hart, Pamela Lamb and Joshua Cader

Effectively engaging with technologies of nonviolence for girls and young women requires attention to systemic, symbolic, and everyday forms of violence online and offline, as well as to how power is broadly manifest. We draw from three different interdisciplinary perspectives and critical reflections to consider networked technologies and online communities in relation to nonviolence. We explore mentorship and subversive education through Neal Stephenson’s 1995 novel, The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, identity politics on Facebook in a reflective study of digital citizenship for queer girl visibility, and online grassroots community solutions in considering the social potential of online forums and solutions for online harassment. Our varied perspectives encounter contradictions, such as the need for access to and protection from diverse online communities, as a necessary consideration for developing policy and creating networked and community-based technologies of nonviolence. We conclude with five recommendations in a call to action.