The activist imaginary and the topless body in the Femen movement
Focusing on the Tunisian Femen-activist Amina Tyler/Sboui and the topless ‘Free Amina protest’ carried out in Tunis, this article investigates the participatory practices and activist imaginary (Marcus, 2006: 6) of the Femen movement. Femen is conceptualized as an assemblage (Delanda, 2006; Latour, 2005) of protesting women and various human and non-human, mediatised (Hepp, 2013; Hjarvard, 2008; Lundby 2009) and localized actors. The article suggests that Femen’s protests undergo a dual process of mediatisation that aims to both generate a spreadable imaginary and enable communication between bodies by addressing affective registers. The mediatised ‘affective environment’ (Massumi, 2009) cues bodies and generates spreadability, yet it also produces disconnections. These disconnections might redistribute the ‘economy of recognizability’ (Butler and Athanasiou, 2013); however, the Femen headquarters in Kiev and Paris increasingly provide centralized interpretations of the movement and the localized actions causing the perception of Femen’s activist imaginary to be unfolded between the unrecognizable and the too recognizable body.
Convergence: the International Journal of Research Into New Media Technologies, 2014, Vol 20, Issue 4, p. 478-495