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
Race 1: Representing Racial Politics
Thursday, 03/Nov/2022:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Alisa Hardy
Location: EQ-116

100 seat horseshoe

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Tisha Dejmanee

University of Technology Sydney, Australia

While Asian American food bloggers constitute an overrepresented racial minority within the predominantly white food blogosphere, food blogs rarely constitute productive spaces for discussing or building community around Asian American experiences even when published by Asian American bloggers. This study addresses the need for further intersectional analyses of food blogs that specifically take race into account as it explores the racial discourses generated by Asian American food bloggers participating in Instagram conversations around #BlackoutTuesday and Black Lives Matter in 2020. I find that #BlackoutTuesday authorised the discussion of race in a way that was not previously visible in the food blogosphere – for instance, Asian American food bloggers used Instagram posts in these conversations to identify with the politicised identity term ‘Asian American’ which, in turn, inspired solidarity and action amongst the Asian American community in support of Black Lives Matter. However, Asian American food bloggers also perpetuated elements of the model minority myth, distancing the microaggressions they had experienced from the ‘more serious’ racism and threats faced by Black Americans rather than acknowledging their joint and precarious structural oppression. This data demonstrates that the racial experiences of Asian American food bloggers continue to be silenced or diffracted, largely due to the ways that Asian American participation in this digital culture is structured through assimilation and racial commodification. Yet, despite these limitations, this conversation has value in contributing to visibility around minority allyship within the Black Lives Matter movement while also challenging the premise of political silence by minority bloggers.

“Happy Heavenly Birthday, Beautiful Queen”: #JusticeForBre and the Black Lives Matter Movement on Instagram

Neta Kligler-Vilenchik1, Ioana Literat2

1Hebrew University of Jerusalem; 2Teachers College, Columbia University

On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman from Louisville, Kentucky, was killed by police officers during a raid on her apartment. In this study, we analyze the complex intersections between race, gender, and the aesthetic norms dominant on Instagram, as they played out in the political expression around the killing of Breonna Taylor, as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. On a theoretical level, this research offers a model explaining how social media platforms (in this case, Instagram) can enable—as well as constrain—certain forms of political expression, through the interaction between their affordances, norms, and contents. An analysis of 5779 Instagram posts and 2173 related comments show how the conversation around #justiceforbre manifested in a collection of posts that was rather uniform, centered on reposting a limited set of posts that were visually appealing, highlighting Taylor’s femininity. A dominant norm in the corpus was connecting political expression around the killing of Breonna Taylor to the user’s own identity, so that the “right” way to speak around the issue varied based on one’s racial group. Through this analysis, this study points at how the interaction between affordances, norms and contents uniquely shaped the kind of political expression that was enabled on Instagram. While adopting the Instagram aesthetic made a powerful impact for the BLM movement, the analyzed contents also show the limits posed on activist action around race relations when it is confined to aesthetically pleasing forms of expression that focus on femininity and beauty.

From #MelaninMansion to #BlackTikTokStrike: Black TikTok, Joy, and the Politics of Refusal

Elena Maris1, Melissa Monier2, Raj Bhargava3, Emily Hund4

1University of Illinois at Chicago; 2University of Michigan; 3University of California, Berkeley; 4University of Pennsylvania

In this paper we analyze and compare content posted on TikTok under the hashtags #MelaninMansion and #BlackTikTokStrike. Our analysis consists of 140 total TikToks videos. The videos analyzed were posted during the hashtags’ peak virality and engagement, 2019-2020 and the summer of 2021, respectively. These hashtags illustrate two specific moments on the TikTok platform for Black creators, and a marked change in Black TikTokers’ response to their experiences of racism and appropriation on-platform. Content was analyzed using Critical Technocultural Discourse Analysis (Brock, 2018) and Digital Black Feminst theory. We argue the turn from the optimistic imaginings of #MelaninMansion to the politics of refusal in the #BlackTikTokStrike represent a sharp change in Black organizing on TikTok from optimism and collective imaginings to refusal and exhaustion. We offer a comparative analysis of shared themes across the content in both hashtags, as well as important differences. We especially note the affective change in the TikTok strike, where Black TikTok creators turn from humorous utopian imaginings of on-platform equity and celebrations of Blackness and community, to frustrated refusal of on-platform labor and pessimistic reflections on the (im)possibilities for Black content creation. Despite the sharp turn in tactics and expectations, the content created in both moments reflect a commitment to Black joy and intracommunity support. Further, the content reveals the experiences of Black TikTokers both with the TikTok platform and policies, and the wider TikTok community’s behavior, implicating the TIkTok platform and community in the overwhelming racism in the norms and politics of TikTok.

Curating Virality: Exploring Curated Logics Within #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter

Yiran Duan, Jeff Hemsley, Alexander O. Smith, Dhwani Gandhi, LaVerne Gray

Syracuse University, United States of America

This study investigates the information sharing behavior of different levels of Twitter influencers within the context of the #BlackLivesMatter social movement and its related discussions #AlllivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter during the 2-week period around Derek Chauvin’s trial. Using qualitative content analysis and quantitative machine learning methods, we analyzed over one million retweets to test if different levels of influencers tend to spread different kinds of information in the discussions around #All/Black/BlueLivesMatter on Twitter. We found out that different levels of influencers tend to spread different information within and between the #All/Black/BlueLivesMatter, and we offer some explanations through the lens of curation logics. We suggest that different levels of influencers may be exposed to different incentives, and be facing different social norms, which leads to different information behaviors. This research contributes to updating the theory of curated logics, virality, and influencers, as well as provides empirical data for the discussions of the #BlackLivesMatter social movement and its related discussions of #AllLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter.

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