|Title||Subject to Change: Democracy, Disidentification, and the Digital|
Radical democratic politics in the digital age is characterized by the widespread emergence of participatory spaces generated by state actors and social movements. These new formats of citizen engagement are situated in the context of social inequalities and discrimination of marginalized identities. To counter this problem, feminist debates in democratic theory associated with the term “difference democracy” advocate a politics of presence through physically embodied representation of marginalized groups, providing visibility in the space of appearance. This strategy, however, entails essentializing tendencies as subjects are judged by their physical appearance rather than the content they utter, a problem described as the “dilemma of difference”.
This thesis seeks ways out of the dilemma of difference by advancing both freedom and equality in participatory spaces. It explores the relations of freedom and equality that are
Drawing on new materialist thought allows for an interpretation of both spatial configurations and the subject as agentic assemblages. Anonymity and other modes of disidentification enable an interruption of such assemblages and reassemble spaces and the self. Digital means of communication provide new affordances for identity expressions. The emerging cyborgian subjects reassemble identity and reconfigure the space of appearance. This results in a new politics of presence that expresses embodied difference but still provides freedom for the subject to change.
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