Acts, (Arti)Facts and Politics of Representation

In this talk, Tess Skadegård Thorsen, PhD, explores the diversity initiatives initiated by the Danish Film Institute (DFI), examining how they maintain asymmetric racialized dynamics and uphold the marginalization of minoritized film professionals in Denmark.

Racialization, or, how we make sense of, define, and produce human difference through logics founded in the social construction of ‘race’, continually shapes social interactions even decades after the theory of human ‘races’ has been disproven. This is particularly potent in the creative industries, and in particular the film-industry, both as a latent expression of shared meaning-making, and as a vehicle for (re)production of racial logics. 

The talk presents an analytical framework for understanding representation which divides Politics of Representation, Acts of Representation and (Arti)Facts of Representation. This framework allows for an analytical shift from product to process, by emphasizing representation simultaneously as something that is and something one does. Racialization, then, is understood as a process actively maintained and reproduced throughout the various representational politics, acts, and artifacts of film. Toward the end of the talk, Tess will share some of her work in progress on the representational politics of AI for the film industry.


Tess Skadegård Thorsen, PhD (she/her), is a researcher, educator, and consultant, specialized in representation in tech, media, and film practices. A former managing editor of the Danish journal for gender research, Tess was awarded the 2022 Kraka Award for Danish gender research. Her research has been published internationallyincluding in 'Women in the International Film Industry: Policy, Practice & Power' and 'Black Film British CinemaII', and she has lectured and been a keynote speaker across the world, including at Columbia University, Pennsylvania State University, Roskilde University, Aalborg University, Lund University, and Copenhagen University. Until recently, Tess was the Director of Product Ethics at Comcast NBCUniversal, a Fortune 50 multinational conglomerate. She serves as an ambassador to the Danish parti-neutral youth-political organization SAGA, and as a member of the national advisory board for the Danish Pioneer Centre for AI, as well as a board member at Another life Community (NGO), Teater Dansk Dansk (theatre) and Pluralisterne (NGO).

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