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Panel 27. Bridging the Digital Abyss: Exploring Intersectional Exclusions in Rural Digital Participation


  • Sebastian Juhnke, faculty member, Torsten Wissmann (Erfurt University of Applied
    Sciences, Germany)


Amidst the process of digitalization permeating regions and rural locales, there has emerged a complex array of social and political conflicts, specifically revolving around issues of participation and representation. This dynamic manifest itself both at the individual and communal/municipal levels. Embedded within this unfolding narrative is the persistent challenge of the double digital divide, wherein exclusion is rooted not only in limited access and infrastructure but also in disparities in skills and knowledge. Despite the introduction of digital mechanisms such as e-government and the conceptualization of smart regions/villages, rural and regional contexts continue to grapple with, and occasionally exacerbate, these divisions.

This session examines the terrain where these conflicts manifest, with a particular emphasis on rural areas/regions and towns where certain demographic segments, including young adults, senior citizens, and sexual/gender-identity minorities, find themselves disproportionately marginalized. The session undertakes an exploration of references and explanations elucidating the nuances of this multifaceted challenge.

At the core of potential conflicts lie fundamental inquiries into discrimination, representation, participation, and redistribution. In response, this panel invites contributions that adopt an intersectional perspective, examining those likely excluded from digital participation. This inclusive lens encompasses not only rural/regional locations but also other dimensions of marginalization, such as age, gender, class, sexuality, ability, and ‘race’ / migration status.

This session aspires to serve as a platform for understanding comparative perspectives, encouraging contributors to scrutinize questions such as:

  • How does digitalization shape the everyday life of marginalized groups and individuals in rural areas/regions?
  • How do residents of rural areas/regions find representation in national or global digital movements, especially those originating in urban centers?
  • How can marginalized individuals or groups in rural areas/regions empower themselves?
  • To which      extent      can      digital       technologies        facilitate       encounters       between (marginalized) dwellers of rural areas/regions near and far?
  • What insights can be gleaned from each other’s experiences at both national and global levels?

Moreover, the ambition of this session extends beyond the confines of the conference. We aim to curate a collection of suitable papers for publication in Palgrave Macmillan’s Pivot series, “Geographies of Media.” Through this panel, we seek to contribute to the ongoing discourse on digital divides, fostering a more inclusive and equitable digital landscape for the future.

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

Diagonal Paraguay 257,
Torre 26, Oficina 1504
Santiago – RM

Los Navegantes 1963
Providencia – RM