Post-Truth Politics: Silencing, Violence and Resistance in Public Debate

Online event - Zoom
Tuesday 28 September 2021 (16:00-17:30)

Since the EU referendum and Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency in 2016, scholars and commentators have spoken of the emergence of a ‘post-truth era’, defined as a break-down in ‘rational’ opinion in favour of emotion.

The election of populist authoritarian ‘strongmen’ such as Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has seen continued attacks on immigrants, ‘experts’, and mainstream politicians. The present moment is also one in which women, girls, people of colour and queer individuals are receiving an unprecedented amount of abuse, with a significant amount of this abuse occurring online and being of a violent, sexualised and racist nature. The concept of ‘post-truth’ has been criticised for overlooking the long history of marginalisation of people of colour and other minority groups from knowledge construction.

Furthermore, it risks reproducing a public/private and rational/emotion binary embedded within the Enlightenment separation of ‘mind’ and ‘body’ that underpinned the European colonial project and served to marginalise women, non-binary people and people of colour from citizenship. This panel explores the connections between post-truth politics, online violence and the ongoing relevance of coloniality to contemporary political life. Bringing together postcolonial perspectives from the Global South and intersectional feminist approaches to online abuse, it investigates what are often conceived as discrete, private and anonymous acts of online abuse within a global context in which the concepts of truth, expertise, and trust are being progressively denigrated.


Seyi Akiwowo (Glitch) is a multi-award-winning founder and CEO of a newly formed charity, Glitch. Glitch’s mission is to awaken a generation of digital citizens equipped to create and demand for safe online spaces for all. Akiwowo founded the charity during her time as a local politician in East London (2014-2018), after she faced hideous online abuse and violence. Before setting up Glitch, Seyi (pronounced Shay-ee) was elected as the youngest Black female Councillor in East London at age 23. A graduate of the London School of Economics, Seyi has spent 10 years working in politics, policy and the charity sector. Using her lived experience and expertise on the topic of online abuse, Seyi co-designs practical solutions with Governments, NGOs and tech companies to make the online space safer for all. Seyi sits on the Guardian Council of Yoti, is a Gates Foundation Global Goalkeeper, and, in 2020, she was appointed a ​Knight Fellow of the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University. She has also given talks at the European Parliament, TEDx London and the United Nations.

Dr Pavan Malreddy (Goethe University Frankfurt) has studied and taught Sociology, Anthropology, Development Studies, and English Literature in the Netherlands, Singapore, Canada, and Germany. He specializes in 20th and 21st century comparative Anglophone literatures & cultures with a regional focus on East Asia, Africa, and South Asia and with a thematic focus on conflicts, communal bonds, insurgencies, and populism. He has authored essays on figures and themes as wide-ranging as Aung San Suu Kyi, Salman Rushdie, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Indian cinema, Brexit, populism, terrorism, and the civil war in Burma, among others. He has interviewed prominent novelists and theorists such as Arundhati Roy, Yann Martel, Homi K. Bhabha, Mohsin Hamid, Tom McCarthy, Amit Chaudhuri, and Tabish Khair. His current research project focuses on the armed insurgencies in India, Burma, and Nigeria. He co-edits Kairos: A Journal of Critical Symposium, and the South Asian and Middle Eastern volumes of The Literary Encyclopedia. He is affiliated with the research group Democratic Vistas (Institute for Advanced Study, Bad Homburg), Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform, and Moving Cultures Master's Programme. His talk will be entitled ‘Facts vs Truths: The Emotional Logic of Postsecular Populism’.

Panelists will speak for 15 minutes each, followed by Q&A.

This webinar is hosted with the support of the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union as part of the Jean Monnet Networks project ‘Post-Truth Politics, Nationalism and the (De)Legitimation of European Integration’. 

All Welcome!

Zoom Details will be provided to those who register.