Curating Digital Diasporic Intimacies: Black Feminist Approaches to Visual Cultures Online

bruce, keisha (2022) Curating Digital Diasporic Intimacies: Black Feminist Approaches to Visual Cultures Online. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only until 13 December 2024. Subsequently available to Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Available under Licence Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (3MB)


Through a series of case studies that explore Black women and femmes’ curation of, presence within, and engagement with digital visual cultures, this thesis illustrates how digital diasporic intimacies have been created, shared, and sustained on social media using affective processes of visuality. It brings together cecile emeke’s former YouTube-based web series strolling (2014-16), Renata Cherlise’s Instagram-based archival project, a range of Influencer selfies uploaded onto Instagram with the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic, and a genre of cartoon memes which have been remixed (edited) with 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 I 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, create, and engage diasporic intimacies, I consider how tensions, friction, and disagreements expressed on social media also underpin the creation of online communities and can be a practice of diasporic identity negotiation too.

This project is underpinned by a methodological framework of Black Feminist Thought and Black feminist theories of visual culture and diaspora. It emerged from my own social media experiences and behaviours, and so I weave autoethnography throughout this thesis to reflect on my relationship with diasporic identity building both online and offline. Thus, as a wholly Black feminist project, I use intimate and intuitive methods to couple my own experiences of interacting with this digital material, with visual and discourse inquiry informed by Black Feminist Thought, to understand how Black women and femmes have curated visual moments for digital intimacy. Altogether, this project draws from my personal experiences to explore how digital diasporic intimacy, presented through visual cultures, can facilitate the construction of Black diasporic (other)worlding.

This timely and experimental project contributes to the rapidly growing field of Black digital studies, as well as the fields of Black studies, studies of visual cultures, and diaspora studies to consider how digital blackness has been imagined and mediated by Black visual content creators and engagers. It addresses a gap in literature of Black digital studies as it centres visual cultures and takes a diasporic approach to discussions of digital blackness. Furthermore, the methodology I have employed is an intervention in the British field of digital studies as it challenges how we can discuss and engage with social media.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Birks, Jen
Hammond-Perry, Kennetta
Keywords: black feminist thought, feminism, digital media, social media
Subjects: H Social sciences > HM Sociology
H Social sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of American and Canadian Studies
Item ID: 71609
Depositing User: Bruce, Keisha
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2022 04:40

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View