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Hashtag Publics

The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks

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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 Sixteen: #BlackTwitter: Making Waves as a Social Media Subculture

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

#BlackTwitter: Making Waves as a Social Media Subculture

NIA I. CANTEY AND CARA ROBINSON

INTRODUCTION

Methods of negotiating one’s identity and challenging spaces on Twitter vary to include challenging religious beliefs, sexuality, politics, and race-related issues. In response to negotiating and asserting one’s identity within a space, the hashtag #BlackTwitter emerged to spark a keen distinction of identity and values as they relate to race and presence in and on social media. Black Twitter is a medium of exchange for addressing current events, personal interests, social issues, criticisms, and so forth. Consider how, 20 years after O.J. Simpson’s Bronco chase, it can now be revisited via Black Twitter discussions in which individuals recount where they were during this time and what feelings emerged while watching the now infamous chase. Examining the presence of Black Twitter through this discourse and notable others (e.g., Trayvon Martin, Juror B37, Sheryl Underwood, and Paula Deen) illuminates the value and meaning of community, a sense of belonging, and, in essence, a space that affirms one’s identity, individually and collectively (Cantey, 2010).

In this paper, Black Twitter is defined and discussed as a political, metaphorical, real, or imagined community (Anderson, 2006; Keith & Pile, 1993) that reflects a microcosm of experiences aligned with many interpretations of (as well as discourses of) Black people within the larger context of society. We will argue ← 219 | 220 → that the use of Black Twitter...

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