This week, we offer the second of an ongoing series of episodes focused on fandom and fandom studies. Last week, we explored fandom’s relationship with the creative industries. This week, we are looking at fan-based activism.
The episode features Janae Phillips, Director of Leadership and Education for the Harry Potter Alliance, who oversees the Granger Leadership Academy and the Fandom Forward study guides project, among other things. Shawn Taylor is one of the founders of Nerds of Color and a founding organizer of the Black Comix Arts Festival, a festival that highlights and promotes artists on the margins of the mainstream comic book industry. Shawn recently published a white paper, We The Fans: How Our Powers Can Change the World, as a Senior Fellow for the Pop Culture Collaborative.
We begin our discussion by trying to understand what we mean by fan activism and why fandom has emerged as an important driver of movements for social change. We consider why fandom might not only enable young people to enter the political process but also how fan activism becomes more sustainable because of the elements of joy, empathy, and passion it brings with it. We consider the darker sides of fan activism, including links between “toxic fandom” and the alt-right, but we also consider how fandom has become a site for anti-racism work. We share our experiences at the Granger Leadership Program this summer as an example of how the Harry Potter Alliance is helping to train young activists and the Granger/Lovegood campaign as a specific effort with the goal of registering and informing potential young voters. Finally, Shawn closes us out with some reflections on Afro-futurism as a philosophy and model for social action and the risks that it has become too cool, too fast.
This episode is dedicated to the memory of Karan Nevatia – a remarkable young producer, fan, activist, and professional.
Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:
Here are some articles Henry has written about the Harry Potter Alliance’s model for social change and its Not in Harry’s Name Campaign. Henry’s research group had more to say about the Harry Potter Alliance in their book, By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism.
This video about the Not in Harry’s Name campaign illustrates how the HPA builds on the infrastructure fandom provides.
What is a Blerd?
Nerds of Color:
Ghost in the Shell controversy
E.E. “Doc” Smith – Lensmen Novels
The Book of Three, Prydain, The Horned King
Translating fandom skills to digital organizing; fandom as a way to make activism sustainable:
The Handmaid’s Tale
Princess Leia at Women’s March
Hong Kong students and Les Miserables
Three finger salute in Thailand
More thoughts on “the White CIA guy” in Black Panther – Eve Ewing on Intercepted
Shawn’s film Afrofuturist recommendation: Destination Planet Negro
Check out these related past episodes:
Episode 14: Hye Jin Lee and Cristina Visperas on the Global Fandom for K-pop
Episode 22: On Conspiracy Theories, with Benjamen Walker and Wu Ming
Episode 66: The Legacy of Octavia E. Butler with Damian E. Duffy, John Jennings, and Shelley Streeby
Episode 40: Exploring the Dark Fantastic with Ebony Thomas
Episode 25: Why Do We Need More Critics of Color? with Jeff Yang & Mauricio Mota
Episode 26: Reimagining the ecology of cultural criticism: Elizabeth Mendez Berry and Carolina A. Miranda
Episode 27: Critics of color: The added value of subtleties, with Eric Deggans
Episode 5: Black Panther, comics and the history of Marvel
Episode 6: Define American’s Julian Gomez on Black Panther and empowering fan activism
Episode 8: Manouchka Labouba on Black Panther and African cinema today
Episode 9: Nicholas J. Cull on Black Panther and the politics of popular culture
Donate to the Harry Potter Alliance in memory of Karan Nevatia.
“In Time” by Dylan Emmett and “Spaceship” by Lesion X.
In Time (Instrumental) by Dylan Emmet https://soundcloud.com/dylanemmet
Spaceship by Lesion X https://soundcloud.com/lesionxbeats
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
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“No Scrubs” by TLC