Messy on the inside: internet memes as mapping tools of everyday life

This paper presents the first systematic analysis of memes created by Palestinians in Israel. An analysis of 150 memes reveals how memes are used to reflect on and intervene in Palestinian youths’ navigation of life in mixed cities under prolonged war and colonialism. I analyze these memes at three different levels: global popular culture and politics, in relation to the Israeli State, and Palestinian in-group dynamics. The analysis reveals a divide between Palestinians and Israelis despite living in mixed cities, putting the myth of coexistence in such cities into question. Memes appear to function both in navigating the contested cultural and spatial politics and carving out space in the cultural landscape for youths’ aspirations. I propose a framework that conceptualizes Internet memes as mapping tools of everyday life. I argue that memes map out the social, cultural, and political landscape in which meme makers live and operate, and further reveals the intricate ties between new media technology and the political, cultural, and spatial arenas.

Information, Communication & Society, Volume 24, Issue 12

About Sulafa Zidani

As a scholar of digital culture, Sulafa Zidani writes on global creative practices in online civic engagement across geopolitical contexts and languages such as Mandarin, English, Arabic, Hebrew, and French. Zidani is currently working on a book-length study called Global Meme Elites: How Meme Creators Navigate Transnational Politics on the Multilingual Internet. She has also published on online culture mixing, Arab and Chinese media politics, and critical transnational pedagogy in venues such as: Social Media + Society; Asian Communication Research; Media, Culture & Society; International Journal of Communication, and others. She is the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology, The Intersectional Internet II: Power, Politics and Resistance Online. Outside of the academy, Zidani is an accomplished public educator. As a facilitator for the Seachange Collective, she has led workshops on antiracism and social justice for organizations such as NowThis, Gimlet Media, The Onion, and The Writers Guild of America. Her public writing on popular culture and politics has appeared in Arabic and Anglophone publications.


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