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Francesca Romeo Considers the Intersection of Digital Media and Political Violence

Francesca Romeo

Francesca Romeo received her BA in English Literature from UC Berkeley, and a dual Master’s degree from Pratt Institute in Photography and Art History. She has lived and worked in New York City over the last 20 years as a fine art photographer and entrepreneur, navigating themes of intimacy and addiction through the prism of various subcultures. She’s now pursuing a PhD in Film and Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz.

“As a digital media scholar invested in empowering under-represented groups, I draw from film and media studies, visual studies, art history, photography, and political theory to interrogate the nature of information and advocacy in the digital age,” says Romeo. “I am particularly invested in the history of human rights discourse and humanitarian endeavors through which I explore how networked resistance proliferates in a global context through the production, alteration, and circulation of images.”

Her work at UC Santa Cruz shifts these concerns from the microcosm of subjective experience, to the macrocosm of infrastructures that dictate, license, and modify behavior through visual means. She is interested in the history of recorded instances that have activated political and social change as well as producing a critical practice that can offer alternate and potentially liberatory models of negotiating individual and collective agency, while reimagining history.

“My dissertation uses archival methodologies and visual analysis to explore the affective and political dimensions of diverse networked publics,” says Romeo. “In one chapter, I examine the results of witnessing anti-black violence as it manifests in cell phone videos documenting police brutality within a US context and theorize the emergence of necropolitical selfies as an effective means of resistance. I situate this work within a broader history of ‘social media’ in which the circulation of lynching postcards was appropriated by anti-lynching activists and used to cohere and mobilize a counter-public dedicated to eradicating anti-black violence.”