Curating Digital Diasporic Intimacies: Black Feminist Approaches to Visual Cultures Online
Through a series of case studies that explore Black women and femmes’ curation of, presence within, and engagement with digital visual cultures, keisha's PhD thesis illustrates how digital diasporic intimacies have been created, shared, and sustained on social media using affective processes of visuality. They bring together cecile emeke’s former YouTube-based web series strolling (2014-16), Renata Cherlise’s Instagram-based archival project @BlackArchives.co, a range of selfies uploaded onto Instagram with the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic, and a genre of cartoon memes which use Black femme aesthetics, to argue for the importance of visual culture for building diasporic communities and forming diasporic identities on social media. At the centre of this project is the term digital diasporic intimacy, which they use to describe moments of joy, expressions of imagined kinship, and practices of solidarity mediated by the Black diaspora on social media. Focusing on how these visual mediums resonate and engage diasporic intimacies, their project considers how tensions, friction, and disagreements expressed on social media also underpin the creation of online communities and can be practices of diasporic identity negotiation.
This project is underpinned by a methodological framework of Black Feminist Thought and Black feminist theories of visual culture and diaspora. It emerged from their own social media experiences and behaviours, and so they weave autoethnography throughout this thesis to reflect on their relationship with diasporic identity building both online and offline. As a wholly Black feminist project, they use intimate and intuitive methods to couple their own experiences of interacting with this digital material, with visual and discourse analysis informed by Black Feminist Thought, to understand how Black women and femmes have curated visual moments for digital intimacy. Altogether, this project responds to keisha's personal experiences to explore how digital diasporic intimacy, presented through visual cultures, can facilitate the construction of diasporic identity and community building.
Future Research Projects
keisha is dreaming up a new research project that will explore Black queer intimacies and the politics of pleasure and play in art cultures. It will be an experimental, multimedia project that explores queer fantasy world building, visual cultures, and literature.