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Hashtag Publics

The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks


Edited By Nathan Rambukkana

This collection investigates the publics of the hashtag. Taking cues from critical public sphere theory, contributors are interested in publics that break beyond the mainstream – in other publics. They are interested in the kinds of publics that do politics in a way that is rough and emergent, flawed and messy, and ones in which new forms of collective power are being forged on the fly and in the shadow of loftier mainstream spheres.
Hashtags are deictic, indexical – yet what they point to is themselves, their own dual role in ongoing discourse. Focusing on hashtags used for topics from Ferguson, Missouri, to Australian politics, from online quilting communities to labour protests, from feminist outrage to drag pop culture, this collection follows hashtag publics as they trend beyond Twitter into other spaces of social networking such as Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr as well as other media spaces such as television, print, and graffiti.
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This collection came together in a whirlwind of enthusiasm from the contributors to write about the diverse political uses of the hashtag both inside and outside of Twitter as a platform. First and foremost I want to thank all of the authors, whose insights and research are what make this collection. It was my sincere pleasure and privilege to compile their work and to get to pore over all of their amazing contributions before anyone else. It is a fine honour to watch a field coalesce on your computer screen, and I was provoked and enriched by their insights on the political moments and affordances of hashtags—thanks, all of you, for your incredible and engaging work!

I would also like to thank my colleagues at Wilfrid Laurier. Their professional generosity, camaraderie, and scholarly energy both inspired me to pull this project together and gave me the time and space to pursue it. In particular, my department chairs Andrew Herman and Jonathan Finn helped create and sustain a space that nourished scholarly productivity (sadly, something all too rare in these neoliberal times), and as mentor, Jeremy Hunsinger helped spread the word about this collection and helped us find a publisher.

As a collection of authors, we are very lucky in our choice of publishers and series. Peter Lang has been generous in their support of this project, and we are honoured to be a part of the field-defining Digital Formations series. In particular we...

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