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  • 1.
    Sevel-Sørensen, Simone
    Malmö University, Faculty of Culture and Society (KS).
    Racial Performances On Social Media - A study of the Sweet Brown memes2019Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    Abstract: Social Media has become a powerful tool in several aspects. It can mobilize movements, rallying for social or political causes, and it can bring people together to share experiences or interest on a global platform. Social media platforms have facilitated more dynamic ways of presenting and performing identity positions such as race, gender, class and sexuality. Though many scholars have agreed that the internet and social media offer interesting new aspects in relation to identity exploration and self-expression, the performance of identity online can also contribute to problematic discourses that reinforce old social stereotypes online affecting what happens offline. This thesis explores racial performance on social media by examining the phenomenon of ‘Digital Blackface’, which is a virtual continuation of a historical phenomenon that operates, in particular, through Internet memes. The thesis studies different versions of an American meme, which represent an altered representation of a real person, known as Sweet Brown. Sweet Brown is an African American woman who after she was interviewed on television became a viral celebrity. Due to her expressive personality, her image has been remixed into several popular Internet memes. The theoretical framework consists of a theorization of racial performance and media representation theory. This theoretical lens is used in the analysis that sets out to answer the questions, how is the Sweet Brown meme used as a form of racial performance online? What is Digital Blackface and how does it operate online? And In what way can racial performance reinforce stereotypic representations? The methodological approach the thesis employs to conduct the analysis and exemplify the problematics are visual analysis, critical discourse analysis, and critical theory. Further, the implication of racial performances in Internet memes is linked to other recent cases or incidents that relate to issues of racial performance in the media. Keywords: Racial Performance, Internet memes, Minstrelsy, Digital Blackface, Internet Culture, Representation, Race, Racism.

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