Speaker Series: David Myles, Emily Colpitts, Jordan Kinder

Thursday, February 18, 2021 16:00to17:30

David Myles

Exploring the social implications of digital media algorithms for Canada’s LGBTQ+ communities

Abstract: Digital media algorithms now oversee nearly all of our online activities. They select and order the results of online searches, they filter, recommend, or censor certain contents, they monitor user activities to predict their preferences, and they score, evaluate, and moderate user content (or even users themselves). Recent studies have shown how algorithms often reproduce the biases of the people who develop, implement, or use them in ways that disproportionally affect women and people of color. This presentation extends these reflections to explore the implications that algorithms raise for Canada’s LGBTQ+ communities, especially in terms of social justice and equality. By doing so, it seeks to further demonstrate how digital media technologies are never neutral but encoded with values that enact important power dynamics disproportionally affecting marginalized populations.

Biography: David Myles is an Affiliate Professor in Sexology at the University of Quebec in Montreal and a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, McGill University. His interests include the sociopolitical implications of digital media technologies, death and mourning, gender and sexual diversity, as well as Internet research ethics and methods. His latest research focuses on automation and datafication processes and their consequences for the LGBTQ+ communities.

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Emily Colpitts

Addressing sexual violence at Canadian universities amidst rising anti-feminist and alt-right backlash

Abstract: In this presentation, I will discuss the dynamic relationship between rising anti-feminist and alt-right backlash and efforts to address sexual violence and advance social justice on campus. I argue that backlash is fuelled by the perceived success of this activism and how it, in turn, shapes what can be said and done about violence. I situate this relationship within the broader struggle among competing social movements over the power to define what constitutes violence, justice, and free speech and explore how the university has become an important site of this struggle.

Biography: Emily M. Colpitts is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow (2020-2022) in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies. Prior to joining McGill, Emily held a York Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre for Feminist Research at York University, where she also completed her PhD in Gender, Feminist, and Women's Studies.

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Jordan Kinder

Petroturfing: Refining Canadian Oil in the Age of Social Media

Abstract: This talk introduces Jordan's current book project, Petroturfing: Refining Canadian Oil in the Age of Social Media. Petroturfing is an investigation into how the Canadian pro-oil movement seeks to undermine resistance to the fossil fuel industry by leveraging perceptions of social media as a participatory and democratic space to frame Canadian oil as an economically, socially, and ecologically progressive force. Performing a qualitative, critical analysis of media produced by the groups and organizations central to the movement's formation, Petroturfing draws upon a range of perspectives from disciplines including political economy, political ecology, media studies, feminist theory, critical Indigenous studies, and science and technology studies, to make distinct contributions to critical studies of social media on the one hand and the energy and environmental humanities on the other. The talk begins by charting the emergence of the pro-oil movement through social media, and it concludes by detailing the project's major contributions with a focus on the critical vocabulary the project generates to confront the encounter between platform and oil capitalism that the movement signals.

Bio: Jordan Kinder is a media studies and environmental humanities scholar from what is now called northern British Columbia. He is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta, and is currently a SSHRC-FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow. His PhD was completed in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta in 2019, and his most recent work can be found in South Atlantic Quarterly and the Journal of Environmental Media.

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