Social media technologies have had ambivalent political implications for Indigenous peoples and communities. On one hand, they constitute new horizons toward which settler colonial forces of marginalization, disenfranchisement, and elimination can extend and strengthen their power. On the other hand, social media have also offered opportunities to resist and reject the violence of colonization and its ideological counterparts of domination and racial superiority, and work toward imagining and realizing alternative futures. In this article, we draw on insights from settler colonial studies and affect theory to chart the politics of “affect” through the stories of Indigenous Australian social media users. We first argue that the online practices of Indigenous social media users are often mediated by an awareness of the ‘settler gaze’—that is, a latent audience of non-Indigenous others observing in bad faith. We then outline two responses to this presence described by participants: policing the online behaviors of friends and family, and circulating hopeful, inspiring, and positive content. If “policing” is about delimiting the things of which online bodies are capable, then an affective politics of hope is about expanding a body’s capacity to act and imagining other possible futures for Indigenous people.
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- affect theory
- Indigenous studies
- settler colonial studies
- social media
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples