Memes to Movements

Speaker: An Xiao Mina
Date recorded: Jan 9, 2019
Technologist and digital media scholar An Xiao Mina presents a global exploration of internet memes as agents of pop culture, politics, protest, and propaganda on- and offline.

An Xiao Mina presents a global exploration of internet memes as agents of pop culture, politics, protest, and propaganda on- and offline. Based on her new book, Memes to Movements: How the World’s Most Viral Media is Changing Social Protest and Power (Beacon Press, January 2019), Mina uses social media-driven movements to unpack the mechanics of memes and how they operate to reinforce, amplify, and shape today’s politics.

Crucially, Mina reveals how, in parts of the world where public dissent is downright dangerous, memes can belie contentious political opinions that would incur drastic consequences if expressed outright. She finds that the “silly” stuff of meme culture—the photo remixes, the selfies, the YouTube songs, and the pun-tastic hashtags—are fundamentally intertwined with how we find and affirm one another, direct attention to human rights and social justice issues, build narratives, and make culture.

Joining her in conversation is Data & Society Founder and President danah boyd.