Episode 106: New Media and Politics with Whitney Phillips and Sulafa Zidani

We start by digging into each of our guests’ definitions of “meme” (in contrast to Richard Dawkins), zeroing in on the agency of the meming process, how it connects with politics, and the need to be responsive to the way popular culture and the participating communities are using and defining these terms. Whitney offers “trolling” as an example to show how terms can be conflated and the consequences that result. Our guests talk about their recent research focuses: Sulafa has been looking at multilingual memes in the global south for an upcoming book, and Whitney’s early work on subcultures has led her to study mainstream political discourse. This leads to a rich discussion about current political discourse over new media platforms in the US and across the globe. Finally, Whitney and Sulafa each offer their strategies for media literacy in this interconnected media ecosystem.

A full transcript of this episode will be available soon!

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Whitney Phillips
You Are Here: A Field Guide for Navigating Polarized Speech, Conspiracy Theories, and Our Polluted Media Landscape
The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture 

Sulafa Zidani
chapter in: Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: A Casebook
How to Conduct Internet Meme Research
Global Meme Elites: How Meme Creators Navigate Transnational Politics on the Multilingual Internet (forthcoming)
Global Meme Project

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins


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