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Thick Description and Embodied Analysis of Digital Visual Artefacts: The Visual Repertoire of #SisterIDoBelieveYou

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Article numbere022014
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/12/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>VISTA Revista de Cultural Visual
Issue number Julho - dezembro 2022
Volume10 (2022)
Number of pages26
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In this work, we explore the relationship between affect and the use of aesthetics by feminist digital activists to communicate their ideas and protest against sexual violence. Our focus, therefore, lies on the visual culture of digital protest. We consider visual artefacts a visual repertoire of protest (Jenzen et al., 2020, p. 420) that can both be articulated in a specific local context whilst simultaneously echoing global sentiments. In this paper, we analyse the visual repertoire of protest of Spanish feminist digital activism against sexual violence. To do so, we analysed 696 visual artefacts linked to the hashtag #HermanaYoSíTeCreo (#SisterIDoBelieveYou) shared on Twitter between May 1, 2018, and August 31, 2020. Our methodological framework incorporates a collaborative triangled analysis based on social semiotics (Ledin & Machin, 2018; Van Leeuwen, 2005), socio-hermeneutic analysis (Knoblauch & Schnettler, 2012; Serrano Pascual & Zurdo Alaguero, 2010), hashtag ethnography (Bonilla & Rose, 2015), and interpretative thick description (Geertz, 1973, pp. 3–30). Additionally, we also developed an ethnographic sensibility towards the corpus, which engaged us in a constant dialogue to overcome the positivist trend of data-driven visual digital analysis.

Our work here addresses the understanding of how visual discourses can create the affective unification of social media users (Stage, 2013) as a key feature of feminist politics and online activism (Keller et al., 2018). We analysed the use of visual artefacts by the "virtual" community of sisterhood and concluded that these processes served as a basis for (a) establishing distinctive while versatile visual branding; (b) weaving an affective community; (c) articulating the desire to connect and to gather through love, hope, outrage and disgust; and (d) linking past and present as well as geographically distant feminist struggles.