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Participatory Cultures: New Media Practices in Postsocialist Societies of Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America

Participatory Cultures: New Media Practices in Postsocialist Societies of Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America

Type of group

Network group

Area focus



Sudha Rajagopalan


Mykola Makhortykh
Sudha Rajagopalan
Ellen Rutten

External partners

Natalia Samutina (National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow) - leading research fellow, Head of the Research Centre for Contemporary Culture); Boris Stepanov (National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow) - leading research fellow); Oksana Zaporozhets (National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow) - leading research fellow); Aleksandra Kolesnik (National Research University Higher School of Economics - research intern)

Research programme

We are interested in the emergent phenomenon of participatory culture, the realm of cultural practices that has grown and continues to grow around new media technology and the platforms it enables. The term “participatory culture”, which is widely associated with the works of Henry Jenkins, indicates a crucial emphasis on the creative production of cultural texts and discourses by contemporary online communities. These productive practices are shaped by specific histories of cultural production but are also politically contingent, formed by and also contributing to particular political discourses and vocabularies. As such these new cultural habits are invariably deeply political practices.

Our group is committed to studying post-socialist new media practices, where ‘postsocialist’ refers to the emergent habits of new media use in a variety of geographical contexts that are grappling with a legacy of socialism even as they are caught up in the momentum of globalisation and its circuit of ideas, values and practices. This group thus dislodges the label postsocialism from its moorings in the former East bloc and makes it a relevant rubric for the study of new media in not only Eastern Europe, but also countries of the global south. This is in congruence with the stated goal of the research school ARTES to develop transnational research agendas.

Achievements 2014-2017

  • Group member Mykola Makhortykh received his PhD in 2017 (supervisors Ellen Rutten and Sudha Rajagopalan).

  • May 2016 - International conference on participatory culture in Moscow, Higher School of Economics

  • July 2017: International workshop in UvA: ‘Political feeling in participatory media”. discussions underway with publisher for a related book.

  • Spring 2018: "Media Systems under Pressure: Recent Developments in Media Freedom in Central and Eastern Europe", UvA

Aims 2018-2021

Special issue including papers stemming from the July 2017 workshop to be published by Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies (proposal accepted, chapters pending review) in 2019-20.

Other plans are yet to be finalised.

Recent output

  • T. Poell, S. Rajagopalan and A. Kavada, "Publicness on Platforms: Tracing the mutual articulation of platform architectures and user practices," in A Networked Self and Platforms, Stories, Connections (A Networked Self), ed  Z. Papacharissi (New York: Routledge, 2018), 43-58.
  • S. Rajagopalan, "Remix videos and the mnemonic imagination: emotional memories of late Soviet childhood," International Journal of Cultural Studies (2018).
  • S. Rajagopalan, "Misogyny and postfeminism on Russian social media" (2018) (under review)
  • M. Makhortykh, "Nurturing the pain: audiovisual tributes to the Holocaust on YouTube," Holocaust Studies (2018).
  • M. Makhortykh, "#NoKievNazi: Social Media, Historical Memory and Securitization in the Ukraine Crisis," in Memory and Securitization in Contemporary Europe eds. V. Strukov and V. Apryshchenko (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 219-247.
  • M. Kaprāns and M. Makhortykh, "Discussing Wartime Collaboration in a Transnational Digital Space: The Framing of the UPA and the Latvian Legion in Wikipedia," in Traitors, Collaborators and Deserters in Contemporary European Politics of Memory (Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies), eds. G. Grinchenko and E. Narvselius (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 169-195.
  • M. Makhortykh and M. Sydorova, "Social media and visual framing of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine," Media, War and Conflict 10, no. 3 (2017), 359-381.
  • M. Makhortykh, "Remediating the past: YouTube and Second World War memory in Ukraine and Russia," Memory Studies (2017).
  • M. Makhortykh, "War Memories and Online Encyclopedias: Framing 30 June 1941 in Wikipedia," Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society 9, no. 2 (2017): 40–68.
  • M. Makhortykh, "Framing the Holocaust Online: Memory of the Babi Yar Massacres on Wikipedia," Digital Icons 18, no. 18 (2017): 67–94.

Valorization activities

Rajagopalan, S (2017). “Looking back with fondness at the Soviet everyday” (2017). Web publication/site. (Popular scientific piece).