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Civic Media Insights: Sulafa Zidani, “‘Speaking in Memes’: The Linguistic and Creative Politics of the Untranslatable Public”
Friday, March 12, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Live on Zoom: https://mit.zoom.us/j/94332660080
Speaker Sulafa Zidani examines the transnational power dynamics within the creative practices of online publics. Through an analysis of meme production and circulation among global linguistic contexts (Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, French, and English), her work theorizes how incommensurabilities across digital vernaculars manifest into what she calls the “untranslatable public”: online communities that are constituted through their itinerancy between different languages, thus producing myriad forms of illegibility and misunderstanding.
By centering untranslatability as itself a creative and civic practice, this study reveals how meme makers enact forms of agency through the communities and discourses in which they participate, critique, or refuse altogether.
Sulafa Zidani is a Ph.D. Candidate in Communication at the University of Southern California, where she studies global creative practices in digital civic engagement. She is author of various journal articles, and the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology, the Intersectional Internet II: Power, Politics, and Resistance Online (Peter Lang Digital Editions Series).