Ethnicities, Counterpublics, Appropriation and Social Media Symposium

On the 8th June MCC hosted an international symposium on the dynamics of activism on social media. The organisers Dr Elizabeth Poole and Dr Eva Giraud (MCC) and Dr Ed de Quincey (Computer Science) arranged the event to present some of their findings from the British Academy funded project, ‘Who speaks for Muslims? Political frictions and the politics of appropriation in social media’.


We began the day by examining some of the negative tweeting of right wing groups both in the US and the Netherlands. Speakers came from the Utrecht Data School to demonstrate the tweeting of populist politician Geert Wilders (Gerwin van Schie and Iris Muis) and discuss the bias in Government systems that categorise and discriminate against ethnic minorities (Gerwin van Schie with Nicolas Lopez Coombs). Then Munira Cheema, from the University of Sussex, explored the struggles around constructions of national identity on social media between different groups in Pakistan. In the afternoon, the mood became more hopeful as we heard how social media can be used to give voice to minorities through blogging in Finland in ‘Migrant Tales’ (Kaarina Nikunen, University of Tampere) and how Twitter has been a vehicle for unity following the death of MP Jo Cox (Beth Johnson, University of Leeds).


We also welcomed two keynote speakers, Dr Pollyanna Ruiz (University of Sussex) who delivered a fascinating talk on the role of masks in online activism and Dr Dima Saber (Birmingham City University) who finished off the day nicely with her critical analysis of the theory and methodologies used to analyse social media, with reference to her own work with Arab activists.


It was a fascinating and hopeful day with fantastic speakers and stimulating discussion. Thanks to all who came!

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