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Report Launch: 'Post-Pandemic' Politics and Reactionary Digital Cultures

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Venue: Online

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This webinar launches a new Birkbeck Centre for Media and Democracy report that charts the overlaps between covid-19 scepticism, vaccine hesitancy and reactionary politics online. Although many far-right extremists have aligned themselves against the public health response to covid-19, the report documents a more ideologically ambiguous and even incoherent form of reactionary politics taking shape around covid scepticism.  
 
This reactionary scepticism is advanced by the extreme right, but it is also proving attractive to people dislocated and disconnected by more than two years of life in a pandemic. Covid scepticism is dominated by ‘misinformation,’ but groups organised around rejecting mainstream consensus wear the ‘misinformation’ label as a badge of honour. The report and the webinar call for renewed attention to the emotional attractions of reactionary politics, calling for anti-racist and anti-misogynist politics that begins at the community level.


With talks from:

Rosie Carter, Director of Policy and Engagement at HOPE not hate


Liam Shirvastava, Communications Officer at the Institute for Race Relations


Dr. Annie Kelly, journalist and researcher focusing on antifeminism, the far right and conspiracy theories online


Dr. Robert Topinka, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, author of the new report on post-pandemic politics and reactionary digital cultures
 
The webinar will also launch a series of workshops for third-sector workers, local government workers, academics and activists working on public health, mental health, youth work and anti-racism. The first workshop will be Friday, 11 November from 10:30 – 14:00 at Birkbeck’s Bloomsbury campus. Tea, coffee and lunch will be provided for all attendees, and travel funding is available.   


Speakers at the workshops include Chris Ashworth, Head of Social Impact at Nominet; Dr. Rohit Dasgupta, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Industries at the University of Glasgow Councillor for Canning Town South; and Councillor Mumtaz Khan, Councillor for Green Street West. 


 
Webinar Speaker Biographies 
 
Rosie Carter is director of policy and engagement at HOPE not hate, the UK’s leading anti-fascist organisation. She conducts research on migration, community relations, public attitudes, identity and political polarisation. She is a Churchill fellow where her research focused on migrant inclusion in post-industrial areas and holds an MSc in Migration Studies from Oxford University. 
 
Liam Shrivastava is communications officer at the Institute of Race Relations. Prior to joining the IRR, he worked for Red Pepper magazine and with the Media Reform Coalition. He holds an MA in Political Communications from Goldsmiths College, where his dissertation focused on the BBC and immigration. He has a particular interest in representations of race and racism in the media and the political space. His work at the IRR involves researching ‘culture war’ phenomena, ‘New Right’ networks and political rhetoric. 
 
Dr. Annie Kelly is a journalist and researcher focusing on antifeminism, the far right and conspiracy theories online. She received her PhD on digital antifeminism from the University of East Anglia in 2020. She works now as a postdoctoral research associate on the AHRC-funded “Everything Is Connected: Conspiracy Theories in the Age of the Internet” project at King’s College London and the University of Manchester and as the UK correspondent for the podcast QAnon Anonymous. Her writing has appeared in Soundings journal, The Sociological Review and The New York Times. 
 
Dr. Robert Topinka is Senior Lecturer in media and cultural studies at Birkbeck. He was Co-Investigator on the AHRC funded project ‘Political Ideology, Rhetoric and Aesthetics in the 21st Century: The Case of the “Alt-Right,”’ and writes widely about race, politics and digital media.�


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