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Insurgent Grammars and Feminist Digital Activism: Iranian Feminist Networks’ Rise against Multifaceted Modes of Power in Light of Jina Uprising
The last months of 2022 have heralded a unique uprising, widely known as a “feminist revolution in the making,” in Iran and beyond. The spark for this uprising was the state-murder of Jina (Mahsa) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, which triggered nationwide and global demonstrations against the numerous intersecting inequalities in Iran. The uprisings led by women and ethnic minorities have transformed fear into rage and anger, subordination into agency, and forced invisibility into collective voices for change. Throughout the uprisings, digital media have become a stage where feminist activists, inside Iran and in the diaspora, voice their struggles while seeking ways to translate their concerns into global expressions of solidarity with marginalized bodies around the world. This research sets out to closely read and analyze the ways in which insurgent textuality and activist labor of Iranian digital feminism wrestle with hegemonies of racial capitalism, patriarchy, and religious nationalism of the Iranian Islamic state. Through conceptual frames of discursive activism (Young, 1997; Shaw, 2012) and mediated solidarities (Nikunen, 2018), I argue that Iranian feminist networks are forms of subaltern counterpublics (Fraser, 1992), using the capacities of digital platforms to strategize and practice discursive arenas to challenge the dominant discourses of power –capitalism or religious authoritarianism– by exposing power relations embedded within these discourses. The current research asks: In what ways have the Iranian digital feminist activisms disturbed and refused to fit in with the discursive and material practices that have constructed the category of Iranian woman? And what are the ways in which these feminist networks employ digital technologies to enable mediated resistance and generate solidarity with other marginalized bodies? The empirical terrain through which I examine the complexities of mediated collective actions is the Instagram accounts of activist groups, including feminists4Jina, Lilith collective, Jina-collective, and the voices of Baluch women. By tracing the movements of radical feminist networks between September 2022 and the end of January 2023, I argue that Iranian digital feminisms have invented grammars of insurgent care as a response to the escalation of state-sanctioned brutality and gender-based violence. Additionally, these activists have amplified their calls for solidarity by promoting insurgent resistance against all forms of capitalism. Such expressions of feminism in the aftermath of the Jina Uprising in Iran could incite feminists from the Global South to cultivate more potent transnational alliances and engage in more passionate feminist resistance against the continuously emerging patriarchal worlds.
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