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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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Chapter Twelve: Living the #Quilt Life: Talking about Quiltmaking on Tumblr


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Living the #Quilt Life: Talking about Quiltmaking on Tumblr


Thetwotwoone is a self-described “mom trying to make her living quilting and crocheting from home” (Thetwotwoone, 2014a). She is also a blogger on Tumblr who has employed many quilt-related hashtags, including the popular #quilt life. While this mother and her #quilt life might seem like strange bedfellows alongside users employing tags such as #trans*, #goth, #metal, and the like, quilt- and craft-related hashtags, like the subaltern ones, serve similar functions of community building, self-identification, and in-group communication.

This essay will explore the use of hashtags in communicating about sewing and crafting, especially quiltmaking, on Tumblr. Crafters use different sorts of hashtags for different purposes. For example, thematic hashtags such as #quilts, #sewing, #embroidery, #scrapbooking, and the like can be used to alert others to the thematic content of the post. Commentary hashtags such as #quilty pleasures and #quilt life, in contrast, are often humorous or ironic and alert others to the commentary rather than the thematic nature of the post. Other hashtags, tags that I call “quilt-specific,” such as #sunbonnet sue and #grandmothers flower garden, are used to generate community and conversations, as well as to create a sense of a quiltmaker community on Tumblr. Besides containing a general study of the use of hashtags by quiltmakers, this essay also explores the intersection of the quilt and craft community, via the use of shared...

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