TFW The Internet is Structured Within the White-iarchy

Authors: Anisa Jackson*, Robinson Center for Young Scholars
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Cultural Geography, Gender
Keywords: visual politics, digital anthropology, cultural appropriation, feminist visual theory, memes, digital geographies
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


The internet has provided new opportunities for creating, distributing, and encountering content by way of building communities and relationships that would otherwise be hindered by spatial distance. These networks are not dissimilar from the dominant social order we find sans technology, and tend to fall within existing interlocking structures or race, class, ability, and gender. While the internet may not produce a new social order, the intensifications of pre-existing social relations and mass communication as enacted online may offer unprecedented rearrangements of how we produce, distribute, and consume content.

As the networks of often-marginalized, often-diasporic communities (i.e. Black Twitter, Black Tumblr, etc.) are housed online, strong concentrations of collective identification (cultural artifacts in the form of memes, slang, etc.) remain in the digital. In my research I consider the visual politics of black viral content produced out of such intensifications, particularly memes. As they move through capitalist processes and become ripe for white consumption, the circulation of black viral content resembles a contemporary revival of white obsession with the “exotic”. This research explores the visual politics of collective identities as imagined, organized, distributed, consumed, and appropriated online.

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