Indigenous memes and the invention of a people

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Scholars have become increasingly interested in the political work of Internet memes. While this research has delivered critical insights into how memes are implicated in both progressive and reactionary politics, there endures a lack of critical work on the ways in which Indigenous people engage with memes to deconstruct colonial power relations and produce alternative political arrangements. This article offers a reading of a set of memes produced and published by Australian Aboriginal activist Facebook page Blackfulla Revolution. We consider the ways in which memes are entangled in the achievement of an anti-colonial politics. More specifically, drawing Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of assemblage, this article offers two levels of analysis. The first analysis focuses on the memes as a text that works to challenge the founding national myth of “peaceful” British settlement. Through the careful narrative of the memes, we see how the colonial assemblage works through “making missing” Indigenous people. And while the material practices and expressive justifications of Australian colonialism might have varied over time, the assemblage has ultimately not changed in nature. For the second analysis, we read the subsequent user engagement with the memes. The sequence of memes, from this second view, contributes “to the invention of a people,” as Deleuze has said. Those excluded from the colonial assemblage and those who recognize it as violence are called forth to engage in movement against it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Media & Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

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  • activism
  • assemblage
  • colonialism
  • Indigenous
  • memes


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