Digital Democracy and Identity Transformations

New digital means of communication offer new prospects for radical democracy. They create new opportunities for participation and inclusion as well as possibilities to express our inner diversity by creating multiple selves online. At the same time, however, digital communication opens the gates to cyberbullying, fake news, and hate speech, which often targets marginalized groups. In this talk, Hans Asenbaum draws on his new open-access book The Politics of Becoming: Anonymity and Democracy in the Digital Age (Oxford University Press, 2023) to shed light on digital opportunities and perils for democracy. He presents a theory of digital space and elaborates on the digital identity transformations that we are part of today. As cyborgs we are both more connected and more decentred. We build democratic assemblages by curating ourselves, which bares potential for radical democratic practices. This conversation between Hans Asenbaum and Bruce Mutsvairo reflects on many themes of the Participedia Digital Democracy cluster and invites participants into a discussion on some of the most pressing issues of our time.


Thursday, June 8 , 2023

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM


SFU's Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Room 470


Edana Beauvais is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Simon Fraser University. Prior to joining SFU, she held various fellowships, including a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at Duke University, a Visiting Democracy Fellowship at the Ash Center, Harvard University, and a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship, McGill University.

Her research focuses on how inequalities shape communication and action, leading to unequal political influence among different social group members. Her research areas include political communication, deliberation and democratic innovation, gender and politics, and racial, ethnic and settler-colonial politics. She is increasingly exploring the impact of digital communication technologies on communicative influence and democratic decision-making. Dr. Beauvais is interested in utilizing quantitative methods, specifically advancements in machine learning, scaling, and dimensional analysis, as well as experimental design. She contributes to the Department of Political Science and the new minor in Social Data Analytics at SFU through her teaching.


Hans Asenbaum is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. His research interests include radical democracy, queer and gender studies, digital politics, and participatory research methods. In 2022 he received the ECPR Rising Star Award. Hans is the author of The Politics of Becoming: Anonymity and Democracy in the Digital Age (Oxford University Press, 2023) and co-editor of Research Methods in Deliberative Democracy (with Ercan, Curato and Mendonça, Oxford University Press, 2022). His work has been published in the American Political Science Review, New Media & Society, Politics & Gender, and the International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

Bruce Mutsvairo is a Professor at Utrecht University's Department of Media and Culture Studies. He studies the relationship between journalism and democracy in non-Western societies. He is the co-author (with Ulrike Klinger and Daniel Kreiss) of the student textbook: Platforms, Power and Politics: An Introduction to Political Communication in the Digital Age (Polity, 2023)