Social media as a strategic organizational tool for Confederate memorial landscape change: From #TakeDowntheFlag to #ChangeTheDamnName

Authors: Jordan Brasher*, University of Tennessee, Derek Alderman, University of Tennessee
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Cultural Geography, Landscape
Keywords: social media, antiracism, memorial landscape, memory
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Galerie 4, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Much scholarly work has considered the multifaceted dimensions of political organizing around movements like Black Lives Matter, especially the use of social media to spread news of incidents of police brutality and violence and to organize to demand police accountability. The Movement for Black Lives itself emerged in 2013 out of the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter to connect concerned citizens and activists with one another, and organize and mobilize around anti-racist police reform. Less well known are the ways that antiracist organizations leverage social media to render visible and bring attention to the commemorative injustices that adorn local and national memorial landscapes, connecting the material inequality and injustice that people of color experience with the symbolic inequality and injustice of the valorization of white supremacists—particularly those associated with the insurgent Confederate States of America—on and through the memorial landscape. This paper suggests that social media is a relational and emergent memorial arena in which struggles over changes to the Confederate memorial landscape are waged. While on the one hand social media can be a place for creating and extending communities of resistance, it is also a place where the politics of memorial landscape struggles are affected in ways beyond or contradictory to what activists may intend. As a result, this preliminary research investigates the ways that antiracist organizations both leverage and encounter the limitations of social media to strategically organize around antiracist Confederate memorial landscape change.

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