Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
Cultures: Cultures and Communities
Saturday, 05/Nov/2022:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Bethan Victoria Jones
Location: EQ-203

65 seat horseshoe

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Thinking for themselves: Examining the reactionary right's "bootstraps epistemology"

Cindy Ma

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

This paper offers a new way of conceptualizing conservatives’ approach to truth and knowledge, based on over two years of online fieldwork (2019-2021) into reactionary YouTube channels and their audiences. I use qualitative content analysis to examine over 100 hours of YouTube videos, 1050 YouTube comments, and online interviews with 15 current and former fans of these channels. Drawing on these data sources, I argue that the reactionary right’s emphasis on “rugged individualism” forms the basis not just of their political project but also of their imagined epistemology.

I find that reactionary YouTubers and their viewers describe arriving at their political beliefs as a highly idiosyncratic process of personal research and rational deliberation. I call this narrative of political formation "bootstraps epistemology." Just as the bootstraps narrative in politics argues that individuals have the duty to reject government “handouts” and improve their circumstances through hard work and thrift, bootstraps epistemology encourages people to reject dogma and instead pursue knowledge through solitary study and intellectual combat with opponents. I propose that the bootstraps narrative of personal responsibility and bootstraps epistemology are mutually-enforcing discourses that advance individualistic solutions to social problems. I find that the latter has gained currency in recent years, with the widespread loss of trust in mainstream media and the proliferation of “alternative” sources of onli news and information.

Tumblr Meta-Fandom: Reflections and Repair

Indira Neill Hoch

Concordia College, Moorhead MN, United States of America

Drawing from qualitative interviews with nine active Tumblr users conducted in the Fall/Winter of 2021-2022 and qualitative multimodal analysis of high-circulation “popular” Tumblr posts, this research assesses and analyzes transformations in user attitudes towards Tumblr three years on from Verizon’s porn ban, and immediately prior to and following additional attempts to restrict adult content enacted by Automattic.

This research considers iterations of Tumblr’s meta-fandom, or fan practices centered around Tumblr’s cultures and communities themselves, rather than a more traditional media property (Tiidenberg, Hendry, & Abidin, 2021), as locations where nostalgia and repair are contested. Meta-fandom practices are analyzed through the lenses of reflective nostalgia (Boym, 2001) and repair (Jackson, 2014) as a way of contending with both the recounting of a place and time on Tumblr that the users themselves know never really existed and the desire to acknowledge that Tumblr always has been “broken” but users continue to thrive, even in the wake of declining overall usage.


Stefanie Duguay, Alex Chartrand, Anne-Marie Trépanier

Concordia University, Canada

This paper examines the role of social media in the definition and organization of lesbian sociocultural landscapes. Building from geographical studies that identify how lesbians’ dispersion across cities counters heteropatriarchal occupations of space, the study is anchored within Montreal/Tiohtià:ke to identify local approaches to visibility and gathering. This angle is combined with digital scholarship that considers how mobile technologies, platforms, and apps give rise to hybrid arrangements that merge physical and digital practices of socialization. These lenses are applied to interviews with representatives from organizations and individuals who use digital technologies to connect lesbians online and across physical space, such as for hosting parties, outdoor activities, and other social gatherings. Preliminary findings show that their use of social media facilitates negotiations of visibility and togetherness while posing definitional challenges. As Montreal’s lesbian networks have become dispersed across the city, multiple modes of communication–from email newsletters to social media–enable meeting across urban space. However, social media pages, events, and accounts necessitate the production of images and text that reflect static definitions of these organizations, the events, and their target audiences. Altogether, we find that social media is a focal tool, among others, to support lesbians’ networked social arrangements but that platforms lack affordances for the fluidity that is integral to ever-fluctuating lesbian/queer identities, locations, and temporalities.

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