Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Graduate Student Workshop Series 2022-23

EACH YEAR, THE GRADUATE FELLOWS OF THE ANDREA MITCHELL CENTER invite graduate students from universities throughout the region to present their work-in-progress to a critical but supportive audience. The topics are not linked to an annual theme, but each session includes two papers that are thematically linked.  Sessions in the past have been devoted to issues of democracy, constitutionalism, and citizenship, including surveillance, technocracy, migration, race, social rights, empire building, party politics, education, the carceral state, and many more. Faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and members of the public are encouraged to read the papers and attend the workshops to participate in lively academic discussions.


Wed. April 12, 12:00-1:30 pm
Online only. Please register here.
Link and papers sent to registered attendees.

(Embodied) Performance of Resistance on Social Media Platforms

Rabani Garg (GSE, Penn)

SINCE 2008 THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE IN THE VISIBILITY OF RESISTANCE against the Indian state from a wider cross section of people in Kashmir and on digital platforms, even as digital sites itself are under heavy control and surveillance by the government. In 2019, two hashtags started trending on social media: #DrawForKashmir and #ArtAsResistance. Kashmiri artists and digital media creators on social media have been using their art to not only voice dissent, resist, build solidarity and mobilize support, but also as a way to reimagine Kashmir (and the Kashmiri subject). RABANI GARG looks at posts and stories shared on a public Instagram account by a politically active youth from Kashmir, whose real identity is hidden from us, to explore how she curates multiple identities by often sharing multimodal content created by others (for e.g., TikTok videos, memes).The social media network allows for this youth to connect with other advocates / digital media creators who are similarly invested in the cause– amplifying each other’s work and collaborating. While most of these public accounts don’t have large number of followers, Garg seeks to understand how these multiple handles come together as a counter public. As these public accounts are at the same time private identities, how do these public and private spheres inform each other? Narratives on social media are complex, as multiple audiences can be a part of a single context and the audience can be across time and space, demanding special methodologies to study these interactions.

When Does Digital Activism Work? Examining Government Responses to Online Petitions in Taiwan

Terrence Chen (Sociology, NYU)

TERRENCE CHEN INVESTIGATES THE IMPACT ON DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE by digital technology-driven initiatives that seek to facilitate citizen participation. He uses “open government” initiatives such as online petition platforms in Taiwan as the empirical case, exploring when, under what circumstances, citizens can influence the government’s policymaking process through these newly created channels. Chen draws on several data sources: interviews with government officials and civil society actors who are engaged in open government initiatives, participant observation of open government events and meetings, and statistical analysis. His research contributes to the literature around digital technology and state governance, as well as the discussions about “deepening democracy.”