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Research Seminar: Dr Robert Topinka, Birkbeck, University of London
A Safe Space for God Emperor Trump: Gaming Politics on Reddit
This paper draws from research that forms part of an ongoing the AHRC-funded project, ‘Politics, Ideology and Rhetoric in the Twenty-First Century: The Case of the “Alt-Right.”’ The paper offers a case study of the specificities of ‘becoming-political’ in digital culture through an analysis of the Reddit group r/The_Donald, which formed to host Donald Trump supporters. Building on twelve months of digital ethnography and analysis of a large sample of posts gathered from the Reddit API, the paper argues that r/The_Donald formed a distinct, durable political assemblage. r/The_Donald users actively crafted and maintained a political community, developed a shared visual and textual language, and participated in manipulation of Reddit’s platform affordances. This gave rise to a hyper-political shared imaginary within which individuals’ political subjectivity centred on experiences of being under siege (on the platform, in national media, in the political culture), where political crisis is imminent and where urgent and ‘heroic’ responses are demanded from and by the forum. Crucially this disposition was shot through with the logics and generic practices of gaming such that political action was experienced as moves in an ongoing game, battling bad ‘bosses’ and struggling collectively to maintain a world-view. The paper suggests that the convergence of gaming and conspiracy will continue to form a dominant tendency of digital politics.

Feb 24, 2021 04:00 PM in London

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