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Hijacking Solidarity. Affective Networking of Far-Right Publics on Twitter

Ana Makhashvili (Freie Universitat Berlin)

Maria Elena Indelicato (CES)

December 7, 2023, 14h00 (GMT Lisbon/London)

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In February 2020, thousands of refugees were met with massive border police violence at the Turkish-Greek border after Erdoğan opened the borders to the European Union. As images displaying this violence started circulating, Twitter users in Germany mobilized a network of solidarity using the hashtag #WirhabenPlatz (“we have space”). The hashtag was almost immediately hijacked by far-right actors to contest the claims of solidarity and mobilize nativist sentiments. Combining methods of network and text analysis, this chapter aims to understand how far-right publics hijacked this hashtag-public by engaging in affective media practices. Network analysis reveals that far-right users managed to mobilize the largest and loudest community in the network. Hashtag co-occurrence analysis shows how they subverted the hashtag’s original meaning to spread nativist sentiments and transformed this public into a site of contested sentiments. Qualitative text analysis exemplifies how the practice of hijacking invites irony, sarcasm, and mockery—also fostered by Twitter’s affordances—rather than expression of explicit emotions. Finally, the study outlines how far-right actors engage in these practices to construct a nativist “We” under threat and perform counterpublicness as a tension with the general public, which situates them in a state of marginalization and victimhood.

Bio notes

Ana Makhashvili is a doctoral researcher in Media and Communication Studies working at the collaborative research center “Affective Societies” at the Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany. From 2019 till 2023, she worked on the project ‘Journalism and the Order of Emotions’, where she analyzed the Twitter discourse around refuge and migration in Germany and now continues her research as part of the project “Contested Order of Emotions: (Anti-)Feminist Discourses on Social Media”. In her dissertation, she combines qualitative, quantitative, and automated methods to examine the role of emotions and affect in the formation of far-right publics on Twitter. Her latest publications include ‘Hijacking Solidarity: Affective Networking of Far-Right Publics on Twitter’ (Affective Formation of Publics. Places, Networks, and Media, 2023) and ‘Challenging Journalistic Authority in the Networked Affective Dynamics of #Chemnitz’ (with D. Medeiros and M. Lunenborg, Social Media + Society, 2022).

Maria Elena Indelicato (she, her, hers) is a CEEC FCT researcher at the Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra and University of Münster Visiting Scholar at the Department of English. She is also an associate editor of the Journal of Intercultural Studies, and co-editor of the section ‘Anti-Racism/Mobilisations and Resistance’ of the forthcoming online Routledge Encyclopaedia of Race and Racism, and team member of the FCT group project UNPOPBesides her monograph Australian New Migrants: International Students’ History of Affective Encounters with the Border (2018), Indelicato has published in feminist, critical race and cultural studies journals such as Outskirts: Feminisms along the EdgeCritical Race and Whiteness Studies e-JournalChinese CinemasInter-Asia Cultural StudiesPaedagogica HistoricaTransnational CinemasFeminist ReviewPostcolonial Studies, and Interventions. International Journal of Postcolonial Studies besides several chapters in edited books on migration, settler colonialism, and Chinese cinemas.

This activity will be provided through Zoom platform and does not require registration. Participation is limited to the number of places available > | ID: 875 8785 2915 | Password: 070883

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