Introducing Our Fall 2015 Research Priorities: Activist Twitter and Race

Sillhoeutte of a person walking a dog while looking at a phone. The person and the dog are shadows against a reddish brick wall.

The Research Priority for Social Media in 2015 is ‘Activist Twitter and Race’. Twitter has emerged as a significant site for activism and activist rhetorics, and it has been an especially important nexus of Black activism. Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson, #IfIDieInPoliceCustody, and #ICantBreathe, among others, have drawn attention to stories and social inequities that traditional news outlets fail to address.

Further, web-capable mobile devices have allowed citizen reporters to not just highlight events on the ground, but to shape mainstream media coverage of and public rhetorics around issues of racial justice. As such issues are the focus of this year’s RHE 306, and in light of rhetorical scholars’ increasing interest in digital activism, lab staffers working on this research priority will examine and engage with Twitter activism and issues of race. That engagement may take a variety of forms, with possible projects including pedagogies of Twitter, quantitative or qualitative network analysis, the development of tools for Twitter activism, and a range of other projects involving the study of and participation in activist Twitter.

Suggested Reading

Selected Twitter Accounts : e.g ., DeRay Mckesson (@​deray )​, Roxane Gay (@​rgay )​, Shaun King
(@​Shaun King)​, Ijeoma Olou (@​IjeomaOluo)​, Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates)​, Crunk Feminist Collective (@​crunkfeminists)​

Raley, Rita. “​Border Hacks: Electronic Civil Disobedience and the Politics of Immigration.” ​T​actical Media.​Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota P, 2009. Print.

Brown, James J., Jr. “​From Activism to Occupation.”​ C​urrents in Electronic Literacy​(2013). Web.

Kairos ​19.3 (2015): Special issue entitled “​Because Facebook: Digital Rhetoric/Social Media.”

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