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Activist Literacies

Transnational Feminisms and Social Media Rhetorics

Jennifer Nish

Published: Oct 20 2022


Published: Oct 20 2022


Published: Oct 20 2022

OA Ebook
Published: Oct 20 2022


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

A groundbreaking rhetorical framework for the study of transnational digital activism

What does it mean when we call a movement "global"? How can we engage with digital activism without being "slacktivists"? In Activist Literacies, Jennifer Nish responds to these questions and a larger problem in contemporary public discourse: many discussions and analyses of digital and transnational activism rely on inaccurate language and inadequate frameworks. Drawing on transnational feminist theory and rhetorical analysis, Nish formulates a robust set of tools for nuanced engagement with activist rhetorics. Nish applies her literacies of positionality, orientation, and circulation to case studies that highlight grassroots activism, well-resourced nonprofits, and a decentralized social media challenge; in so doing, she illustrates the complex power dynamics at work in each scenario and demonstrates how activist literacies can be used to understand and engage with efforts to contribute to social change. Written in an accessible, engaging style, Activist Literacies invites scholars, students, and activists to read activist rhetoric that engages with "global" concerns and circulates transnationally via social media.

Jennifer Nish is assistant professor of technical communication and rhetoric and faculty affiliate of the Women's and Gender Studies program at Texas Tech University.

"Activist Literacies is timely, thoughtful, and meticulously researched. Examining the intersection between social media and transnational feminist activism, Activist Literacies makes an important methodological contribution to digital rhetoric, and the studies of social movement and social media. Nish's careful analysis extends existing scholarship on feminist rhetorics by articulating how activists mobilize different literacy practices to navigate digital spaces."—Shui-yin Sharon Yam, author of Inconvenient Strangers: Transnational Subjects and the Politics of Citizenship

"Jennifer Nish's Activist Literacies is a vital, necessary, and timely book. Understanding activist literacies and rhetorics as situated, directed, and collective, Nish invites—no, urges—her readers to understand, appreciate, and practice the kinds of literacies that critically and creatively push our world toward equity, justice, and sustainability.  Bringing to bear upon social media activism a framework of transnational feminism offers the field an inspired and inspiring approach to thinking about how power circulates and how we might use social media to build better worlds."—Jonathan Alexander, Associate Dean, University of California, Irvine

"Bringing together scholarship in new literacy studies and transnational feminist rhetorical studies, Activist Literacies offers an incisive analysis of the rhetorical-material conditions and connections that shape contemporary feminist activist networks. This book powerfully demonstrates how feminist activists navigate their embodied identities and positionalities in cultivating community and meditating systems of power. Activist Literacies is a must read for scholars and practitioners interested in gaining greater critical insight into the rhetorical strategies (genres, modes of identification, and disidentification) that activists deploy in building coalitions to drive social change."—Wendy S. Hesford, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Professor, The Ohio State University, and author of Violent Exceptions: Children's Human Rights and Humanitarian Rhetorics

"In Activist Literacies, Jennifer Nish emphasizes a transnational analytic that offers valuable ways to appreciate the convergence of social media and activist strategy. [. . .] Nish's framework of circulation literacies offers an entry point for understanding how the relational process of genre knowledge and uptakes connects rhetorical patterns to ideologies and systems of power."—Women's Studies in Communication

2024 Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award Honorable Mention

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