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Civic Media Insights: Rogelio Alejandro Lopez, “Rebels with a Cause: Youth, Social Movements, and Media”
Friday, March 5, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Live via Zoom: https://mit.zoom.us/j/94875943941
Student walkouts against gun violence in support of March for Our Lives in 2018. Mass youth mobilizations across the US and abroad for environmental justice as part of the Global Climate Strike in 2019. Continued Black Lives Matter protests for racial justice, many organized by young people, during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. This talk takes a look at youth, social movements, and media and cultural production in recent years.
Using a mixed-methods, and multi-framework approach — social movements and participatory politics — Lopez examines notable instances of youth protest and contextualizes them within broader movements to center and prioritize generational and intersectional social justice claims and grievances. Lopez also focuses on the ways youth media and cultural production cultivate a civic imagination — “the capacity to imagine alternatives to current cultural, social, political, or economic conditions” — which highlights youth civic agency and collective power to change the world. Taking Alicia Garza’s words to heart “hashtags do not start movements—people do,” Lopez aims to reconcile a focus on the relevance of media and communication tools in the social justice efforts of youth alongside unchecked power among tech companies, misinformation, partisan media, and counter-movements. This talk highlights the potential of media tactics to empower youth, while also critically examining the replication of systems of oppression in a broader media ecology. In short: what remains of the liberatory potential of ICTs for young people in the US and around the world?
Rogelio Alejandro Lopez (he/him) is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where his work centers on social movements, civic media, and youth culture. His dissertation is a comparative look into the use of media tactics and cultural production among youth in contemporary social movements to cultivate “civic imagination.”