The Shades and Shadows of NGOs Work in Politically Sensitive Contexts

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This study explores how visibilities are produced, managed, and shape the work of activists operating in sensitive and repressive contexts. To advance emerging research, this study blends theoretical perspectives from visibility and activism research and builds on ethnographic methods and fieldwork in a non-profit organization. The contribution of the study to research at the intersection of visibility and activism is twofold: firstly, the study identifies the human and material agencies involved in the production of different dimensions of visibilities (mildly shaded and mostly shadowed). Secondly, the study shows how the three identified dynamic imbrications of agencies (encryption, obfuscation, and concealment) at times empower and undermine both the efforts of activists and oppressors. The findings provide novel insights applicable to a wide range of collectives, corporations and institutions that rely on visibility management, as connectivity and datafication are making it increasingly easy for social behaviors to be seen.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventThe 7th Global Conference on Transparency Research 2022. GCTR 2022: Rethinking Transparency: Challenging Ideals and Embracing Paradoxes - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 18 May 202220 May 2022
Conference number: 7


ConferenceThe 7th Global Conference on Transparency Research 2022. GCTR 2022
LocationCopenhagen Business School
Internet address


  • Secrecy
  • Visibility management
  • Datafication
  • NGOs
  • Activism

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