Using digital storytelling as a change agent for women’s participation in the Turkish public sphere

Simsek, Burcu (2012) Using digital storytelling as a change agent for women’s participation in the Turkish public sphere. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis builds on the scholarship and practical know-how that have emerged from digital storytelling projects around the world with diverse groups of participants in a range of institutions. I have used the results of these projects to explore the opportunities Digital Storytelling workshop practice may hold for women’s participation in the public sphere in Turkey. Through theoretical discussion and practical experimentation, I examine the potential of Digital Storytelling workshop practice as a means to promote agency and self-expression in a feminist activist organisation, focusing in particular on whether Digital Storytelling can be used as a change agent – as a tool for challenging the idea of public sphere in ways that make it more inclusive of women’s participation. The thesis engages with feminist scholarship’s critiques of the public/private dichotomy, as well as the concept of gender, to seek connections with narrative identity in the light of the analysis of the Digital Storytelling workshops and the digital stories that were created in a feminist context. The study on which this thesis is based saw the introduction of Digital Storytelling to Turkey for the first time through workshops in Istanbul and Antakya, conducted in partnership with the feminist activist organisation Amargi Women’s Academy. Applying the principles of feminist post-structuralist discourse analysis as used by Judith Baxter (2003), I examine two sets of data collected in this project. First, I analyse the interactions during the Digital Storytelling workshops, where women from Amargi created their digital stories in a collaborative setting. This is done through participatory observation notes and in-depth interviews with the workshop participants and facilitators. Second, I seek to uncover the strategies that these women used to ‘speak back to power’ in their digital stories, reading these as texts. I conclude that women from the Amargi network used the workshops to create digital content in order to communicate their concerns about issues that can be classified as gender-specific matters. During this process, they also cooperated, established new connections, and at the end of the process even defined new ways of using, circulating and repurposing their digital stories for feminist activism in Turkey. My research thereby contributes equally to feminist discourse analysis, the study of new-media usage and uptake among non-professionals, and the study of media–public sphere interactions in a particular national setting: Turkey. My conclusion indicates that the process of production is as important as the product itself, and from that I am able to draw out some strategies for developing digitally equipped women’s activism in Turkey.

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ID Code: 50894
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Hartley, John & Burgess, Jean
Keywords: digital storytelling, gender, performance, mediation, digital inclusion, agency, digitally equipped private sphere
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Jun 2012 00:49
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:21

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