Accepted paper:

"The Big Facebook Cleaning". E-Activism as a Form of Protest against the New Wave of Right-Wing Populism and Nationalism in Poland

Authors:

Agnieszka Balcerzak (University of Munich)

Paper short abstract:

Poland is currently experiencing the strongest socio-political upheaval since 1989. The left-right-division between parties, media and movements is very vivid. Facebook is an important "battlefield" for the polarized players and a platform of protest against right-wing populism and neo-nationalism.

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, many words have been devoted to the rise of populism, illiberalism and neo-nationalism in Poland. Often comparing the country to Hungary, commentators have been tempted to see a "populist threat", an "Orbanization," understood as some kind of decisive turn away from the post-1989 liberal democratic order. Actually, due to different ideological views, systems of values and visions of Poland, the post-communist Poland is characterized by a strong socio-political dichotomy. On the one hand, right-wing movements such as national-conservative All-Polish Youth or the National Radical Camp aim to propagate the "patriotic" spirit and create a homogeneous "Great National Poland". On the other hand, the liberal pro-European LGBT movement or different anarchist networks fight against homophobia and xenophobia by rejecting a nationalist, ultra-Catholic vision of a "Poland for Poles". Facebook as one the most influential social networks serves for the polarized "camps" as an effective platform for constructing collective identities, defining boundaries and characterizing the narratives of inclusion and exclusion. Crucial for this activist intervention, emphasizing two diametrically different visions of Poland, is the realm of language and symbols. Through an ethnological analysis of the example of the 2013 campaign "The Big Facebook Cleaning", consisting of "meme fights" as an linguistic and aesthetic form of protest, profile blockades and humorous trolling actions, I would like to outline which (counter) narratives are characteristic for this "battle of words and symbol", which realities they offer and present what they reveal about the recent wave of neo-nationalism in Poland.

panel P160
Resisting Populism: Memes, Extreme Speech, and the Aesthetics of Affect and Defiance