ERMeCC Lunch Seminar

Tuesday 28 Feb 2023, 12:00 - 13:00
Polak 1-21

Also via Zoom

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Our next ERMeCC lunch seminar will take place next Tuesday, 28th February, 12:00 - 13:00 in Polak 1-21. The seminar will also be accessible via Zoom. Please contact Daniel Trottier for more information.

“Innocent” Hashtags? Antimigrant debates on Twitter around #IStandWithGreece and their affinity to European border politics"

Dr. Maria Avraamidou

This presentation will discuss how Europe’s border “crises” in the post refugee “crisis” years were discussed in the micro-blog Twitter, through an in-depth analysis of boundary making. Drawing from a wider postdoctoral project, the presentation will focus on the tweets of the top influencers who used the hashtag #IStandWithGreece during a crisis at the Turkey-Greece land-border in March 2020, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. This network of intolerance promoted ideologies ranging from white supremacism to Greek nationalism, glued together by an antimigrant stance. Simultaneously, they offered a representation of migrants as ‘pawns’, seen like a chess piece, with no value, literally pushed towards Europe by Turkey. Within this, Europe was represented as a paradoxical other, the “fallen Self”, for not rising to the opportunity to effectively protect its sovereignty and culture.

Despite being diffused by extreme antimigrant Twitterers, it will be argued that these tweets offer a more overtly racist expression of otherwise mainstream European (Union) discourses and politics on migration. Effectively, #IStandWithGreece’s influencers functioned as Europe’s alter-ego mouthpiece, saying the unsayable using social media, and their affordances contributing to the normalization of an oppressive and restrictive European border management. 

For more information about the project and relevant publications you can visit this site


Here we speak: Challenging racist and sexist structures in and through the Instagram Space

Julia Herkommer

Various scholars have studied the advantages and disadvantages of using social media platforms such as Instagram for digital anti-racist and anti-sexist activism efforts. Overall, scholars concluded that while Instagram and its relatively easy access can be a productive tool to raise awareness, mobilize people, and forward structural change, the platform is simultaneously governed by precisely these structures. In other words, while some (scholars and users alike) consider Instagram a sort of virtual safe space to escape to from an oppressive offline world, others argue that social media platforms are powerful institutions with their (often oppressive) logic and mechanisms in place. 

As such, it is crucial to understand how the individuals engaging in such digital activism efforts invade, perceive, and navigate the Instagram space to then comprehend how this type of activism contributes to (offline) structural change. Therefore, this paper answers the research question of how Black female microcelebrities navigate the Instagram space to challenge racist and gender-oppressive structures, with a specific focus on the Austrian context.

A qualitative mixed-method approach, including digital ethnography via the walkthrough method, qualitative content analysis, and semi-structured interviews, was used. Using digital ethnography, the compositions of the Instagram profiles of five microcelebrities were analyzed to critically analyze both the cultural work of Black women and Instagram’s socio-technical structures, tools, and functionalities. This was followed by a more in-depth qualitative content analysis of the practices of these women via an analysis of 106 posts and story highlights. Finally, three women were interviewed to understand how they perceive the socio-technical structures of the Instagram space and how that correlates with their content creation and sharing practices. During the data analysis process, thematic and narrative analysis were used to combine and contrast the gathered data. By triangulating the findings of three methods, patterns in Instagram’s structures and the women’s perspectives could be described. While the walkthrough method revealed patterns of the socio-technical structures governing the Instagram space (i.e., what people [can] do), the content analysis and interviews uncovered how these structures are perceived and negotiated by Black women (i.e., what people say they do).

As a result of the data collection and analysis process, the following four themes were developed: (1) educational activism, (2) space shifting, (3) connecting personal to structural issues, and (4) effects on mental health and coping mechanisms. Within these themes, Black microcelebrities were found to use Instagram to (1) educate others and themselves by raising awareness, providing historical contexts and explanations, and thereby challenging the status quo of knowledge and ‘common sense’ in Austria. Similarly, they (2) shift between offline and online spaces as well as (3) between personal and structural instances of oppression to transform these spaces into networks governed by the ideas of Critical Race Black Feminism, digital activism, and spaces where notions of social justice exist. When doing so, however, the women in this study experienced (4) severe impacts on their mental health and well-being, restricting their potential to speak up freely, become visible, and thereby contribute to structural change. Consequently, they were found to use the notions of the (in)visibility paradox to strategically employ their visibility to raise awareness for oppressive structures and their invisibility to shield themselves from potential repercussions of their actions.

More information

Contact Daniel Trottier for more information.

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