Virus, Violence and (In)Visible Women: #LockDownMeinLockUp and Embodied Resistance During COVID-19

Date / Time

February 22, 2024

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Details and registration.

Join us for a talk by Ishani Mukherjee, PhD, exploring digital media and hashtivism as interventions against domestic violence on Indian women during the pandemic.

Mukherjee’s presentation draws on the constructs of embodied resistance, performed connectivity, and in/visibility politics to explore how gender, body, power, affect, celebrity, performance and in/justice are framed by digital media in the context of a global health crisis and an increase in domestic violence against women. During India’s pandemic-induced lockdown, women in abusive relationships had no choice but to cohabit with their abusive partners/families. Reported domestic violence cases hit a record high of 131% within months of the 2020 lockdown, and many Indian NGOs working to rehabilitate abused women saw 100% increase in helpline calls. Mainstream media coverage prioritized health and economic implications of COVID-19, and little if any attention was paid to the impact of the pandemic on Indian women and their daily and layered oppressions.

At this juncture, select Indian NGOs, gender rights advocates and celebrities took to digital media to advocate against the heightened abuse that Indian women were facing during the pandemic, of which the Instagram visual campaign #LockDownMeinLockUp is a potent exemplar. Based on an inductive thematic analysis of 1,624 Instagram images (May 2020—January 2021) related to the hashtivism, its celebrity selfies and digital posters, this study reveals four themes relating to representations of, and interventions against, domestic violence on Indian women during the pandemic, including: names, stories and victim visibility; violence visuals; celebrity selfie-resistance; and action, connection, and transformation. This study reasons that the #LockDownMeinLockUp campaign, and its resistance images, surface as complex tools of localized activism with short-term interventional affordances amidst India’s COVID-19 lockdown, but poses long-term limitations brought on by enduring heteropatriarchal mindsets and a critical lack of structurally-supported resources.

Food, safety and accessibility:

  • Masks are required for in-person attendees.
  • Lunch will be available for takeaway.
  • Building and suite accessibility info is available on our website.
  • Captions will be enabled on Zoom.

Please contact us with any questions or access requests: or 312-413-1025.

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