Crowdsourcing the Reputation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Twitter as Memorial Arena

Authors: Janna Caspersen*, University of Tennessee Department of Geography
Topics: Qualitative Research, Political Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: Twitter, Social Media, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reputational Politics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon D3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


My presentation further develops the idea of "crowdsourced memory." The term captures two important developments in the conceptualization, technological delivery, and analytical study of public memory. In terms of conceptualization, a crowdsourcing approach recognizes that the remembering of the past is an inherently collective and often competitive enterprise in which the public participates in the co-construction of memory and the meanings of memorial landscapes and places. A crowdsourcing approach also recognizes the growing influence of the Internet and social media as not just a means of communication but also a system of cultural and place representation as well as a memory technology—a way of expressing views about the past but also a way of recording the history of place experiences at places devoted to the past. The posting of experiences and opinions through platforms such as Twitter have dramatically expanded public expression and contribution to the project of remembering, interpreting, and re-interpreting the past. Finally, a crowdsourcing approach represents a new methodology that recognizes that social media posts provide an important source of not only quantitative but also meaningful qualitative data for scholars to understand how the legacy and reputation of individuals and organizations are communicated, consumed, and co-constructed by the public. My paper applies a crowdsource approach to understanding the reputational politics that surround the annual holiday dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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