Accepted paper:

Between visibility / hyper-visibility and the virtual discriminations


Maica Gugolati (EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

I will propose in this article the social pressure increased by social media during the contemporary carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. In specific, I will question the status position of participants in carnival and their globalized virtual discriminations.

Paper long abstract:

The visibility in social media images during the contemporary carnival of Trinidad and Tobago becomes one of the main masqueraders preoccupation. Beyond the apparent democratization of social media, people trigger a parallel fictional world that reflects the expectations of an imaginary social status. I consider the social-virtual pressure of carnival masquerades, who want to accede and to play in a specific carnival's bands based on popularity. Each band is divided in "sections" that allow economical, aesthetical and often phenotypical discriminations. The front-line sections in the carnival parade have more media visibility and give the propagandistic image of the band. The possibility to participate at these specific sections gives to players the recognition and the visual proof of belonging not just locally but even globally to an elitist context. Yet, playing in a "front-line" means not just having a visual local recognition but even an exposure to global critics because of Diaspora worldwide relations. These players are inventing or assuming a "front-line image" and behavior instrumentalizing the media hyper-visibility as a reaction to a social invisibility. This need of affirmation is represented in the formation of a new category of VeryVeryImportantPeople that wishes to get distinct from the already confirmed VIPeople. Social media erotizes and fetishizes the visibility that reproduces fictional meanings and affirms social categorizations. The exclusive economical and aesthetic possibility of belonging to and being seen in a front-line section is exhibited in a virtual world, in which the social media acts as an handles of the structural discriminations.

panel P26
Social media and inequality