Visual Economies in the Networked Era: Professor Donatella Della Ratta

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John Cabot University’s Communications Professor Donatella Della Ratta was invited to give a talk called Right, Click, Remove at The Centre on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos) in Florence on February 4, 2020. Cosmos is directed by Donatella Della Porta, professor of Political Science and distinguished scholar in the field of social movements. Professor Della Ratta will also give the talk at Torino Digital Days on February 12. She specializes in Arabic-speaking media, and has authored three monographs on the subject, curated chapters on Syrian media and politics in several collective books, and published the book Shooting a Revolution: Visual Media and Warfare in Syria in 2018 by Pluto Press.

Professor Donatella Della Ratta

Professor Donatella Della Ratta

Image production and ownership
Who owns the visual media that gets uploaded on social media platforms? When global protest movements produce and upload visual counter-narratives, the ownership is attributed to Silicon Valley social networking platforms. The law grants these companies the right to decide whether or not these visual media have to be deleted. Starting from the argument outlined in Shooting a Revolution: Visual Media and Warfare in Syria, which is about the double meaning of the word “shooting,” Professor Della Ratta addresses the stage that follows the production of visual media.

Right, Click, Remove
Right, Click, Remove is about the life cycle of the images shot by protesters. These visual media present a counter-narrative and denounce human rights violations (hence the word ‘Right’ in the title). These images then get uploaded and shared (‘Click’) on social media platforms to raise awareness and mobilize the public. However, social media platforms then have the power to decide whether these visual media can stay online, or not (‘Remove’).

Reflecting on the actions of ‘right, click, remove’ and on the act of producing, sharing, and deleting that they imply, this talk explores the contradictions and challenges of contemporary visual economies in the networked era.

The author
Between 2007 and 2011 Donatella Della Ratta lived in Damascus, Syria, where she carried out an extensive media ethnography of Syrian TV series’, which then became the topic of her Ph.D. research, obtained from the University of Copenhagen in 2013. She is a former Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Copenhagen and at the Annenberg School for Communication, Pennsylvania University and an Affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

She contributes to media outlets such as Al Jazeera English, Hyperallergic, Internazionale, and Il Manifesto, and she managed the Arabic speaking community of the Creative Commons for five years (2008-2013). She has curated several art exhibitions and film programs on Syria, and she is a co-founder and board member of the web aggregator on creative resistance SyriaUntold.