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Accepted Paper:

Conflict gone Viral on TikTok in Mali  
Luca Bruls (African Studies Center Leiden)

Paper short abstract:

On TikTok in Mali, influencers and other users spread messages on conflict that go viral. TikToks play a new role in the audiovisualization of conflict, as well as how people portray politics. What are these mediations about?

Paper long abstract:

The list of TikTokers with a large follower base is growing in Mali. These quote-on-quote influencers use TikTok to advocate certain beliefs, interests, and virtues. Like in the rest of the Malian media ecology, conflict is an important topic on the platform. Hence, TikTokers play a role in the communication of conflict and everyday livelihood in wartime. In this paper, I discuss TikTok as a discursive space of conflict by zooming in on Internet celebrities and viral messages on conflict. Based on discourse analysis, I make evident that TikTok is an affectively charged space where people discuss the conflict in biased terms.

Mostly, the tendentious content is characterized by a pro-government sentiment. The popularity of this content among audiences, as well as the success of TikTokers and the potential of TikToks to go viral, shows the growing importance social media users play in the creation of socio-political landscapes. Drawing on audiovisual examples, I demonstrate the role of famous as well as infamous TikTokers in the making of audiovisual perceptions of conflict.

Panel Anth25
Media forerunners: reflecting on emerging socio-political youth leadership in times of conflict and digitalization
  Session 2 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -