Digit Debates: The digital lives of black women in Britain: Between creativity, community and commodification

11 November 2020



This talk is available to watch above.

Black women’s digital creativity and work is at the forefront of many significant media, creative, and cultural production changes in Britain—yet they rarely receive sustained public recognition and substantial sources of long-term institutional support.

Drawing on five years of research for her recently published book, The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), Dr Francesca Sobande reveals how the digital creativity of Black women is often exploited by commercial organisations, including brands that attempt to “diversify” their image due to its potential profitability.

She argues that although Black women are increasingly identified as digital “trendsetters” by businesses, they are simultaneously erased and hyper-visible as creators, knowledge-producers, and social movement builders. Dr Sobande explores the tensions between digital culture’s communal, counter-cultural, and commercial qualities, focusing on how these matters are shaped by intersecting anti-blackness, sexism, and other forms of entangled oppression.

This talk is held in partnership with the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics Women and Gender Forum and forms part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science.


Dr. Francesca Sobande is a lecturer in digital media studies at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University.

She is Course Director of the BA Media, Journalism and Culture programme, is an affiliate of the Data Justice Lab, and is Communication Co-Chair (with Dr. Naya Jones) of the Race in the Marketplace (RIM) Network which is a transdisciplinary and international research network concerned with critical understandings of the role of race and its intersecting socio-political constructs in the marketplace. Francesca’s work focuses on digital culture, Black diaspora, feminism, creative work, and the experiences of Black women. Her research has been published in international journals such as European Journal of Cultural Studies, European Journal of Marketing, Consumption, Markets & Culture, Marketing Theory, Communication, Culture & Critique, IPPR Progressive Review and Celebrity Studies. Francesca is author of The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and is co-editor with Professor Akwugo Emejulu of To Exist is To Resist: Black Feminism in Europe (Pluto Press, 2019). More about Francesca’s work can be found at francescasobande.com

Related reading

Sobande, F. (2020), Open access chapter on ‘Black Women and the Media in Britain‘ from The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain.

Sobande, F. (2020), Open access chapter on ‘Black Women’s Digital Diaspora, Collectivity, and Resistance‘ from The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain.

Sobande, F. (2019) “Woke-washing: ‘intersectional’ femvertising and branding ‘woke’ bravery”. European Journal of Marketing. 10.1108/EJM-02-2019-0134 (Open access pre-print).