Accepted paper:

Schismemegenesis. Drawing social boundaries in Italian online debates

Authors:

Gaetano Mangiameli (Università degli Studi di Milano)

Paper short abstract:

What kind of opportunities and what kind of shortcomings characterize the communication strategies of political activists who daily use memes, videos and any product of creativity to fight against the spread of intolerance? Schismogenesis is a useful tool to address questions like this.

Paper long abstract:

A substantial, if not preponderant, part of political communication takes place in social media, where intellectual debates and violent speech live side by side. Facebook, as an example, constitutes a gigantic device for producing textuality that anthropologists need to take into account with their own interpretive tools. Online discussions about populism, sexism, fascism, etc. are the common ground for the (re)production of political identities, the dissemination of biased representations and the (re)assertion of boundaries among people. What are the main features of these day-to-day routines of conflict? What is the role of politically engaged anthropologists? What kind of opportunities and what kind of shortcomings characterize the communication strategies of political activists who daily use memes, videos and any other product of creativity to fight against the spread of intolerance, prejudices, antidemocratic attitudes and so on? Is it time to recover the notion of schismogenesis in order to contribute to the comprehension of what happens in both online discussions and face-to-face interactions? "Schismemegenesis" is a way to answer "yes" to the last question and to address the previous points, with specific reference to contemporary Italy.

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