July 28 2022 GM

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Glitter Meetups

Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EST / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.

Date: Thursday, July 28th

Time: 9am EDT / 1pm UTC

Who: Idil Galib

Moderator: Islam

Where: On IFF Mattermost Square Channel.

Introducing The Meme Studies Research Network

The Meme Studies Research Network is an international and interdisciplinary research network for scholars who study memes. It aims to bring people together and foster discussion about memes from various academic fields, methodological practices and theoretical standpoints. The main goal of the network is to collaboratively establish a meme studies canon, and offer researchers an index of resources that center memes as their main object of interest.

The Network plans on releasing its index soon. "The Meme Studies Research Network (MSRN)” Index is a collaborative project that collects and presents academic literature about the use, spread and impact of internet memes. The MSRN index was modeled after the Cyberfeminism Index facilitated by Mindy Seu.

Idil Galib is a writer and researcher from Turkey. Her work is informed by ethnographic methods and is focused on digital culture and labour. She is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Edinburgh where she is mapping the creative and digital labour that goes into the creation, dissemination, and monetisation of internet memes. She also runs the Meme Studies Research Network, an interdisciplinary and international network for people who study memes.


Tell us a bit about yourself and the motivation behind the Memes Studies Research Network?

  • So I am a researcher who studies digital cultures from a critical lens, focusing on issues around platform dependency, platform work, algorithmic cultures, and of course internet memes. I am originally from Turkey but have been living in Edinburgh for the past years doing my phd in sociology
  • I set up the meme studies research network so that scholars who are interested in memes could connect and learn from each other, and we could substantiate a growing field in internet studies
  • I think it is important that we understand memes from various standpoints and understand their nuances so we can be informed about the risks and potential of digital subcultures and online communities.

What are the challenges of talking about memes in an academic context? or maybe even institutionally in general?

  • This is a great question! one challenge is that people think its "frivolous", "cute" or a joke

How do you find archival content like the meme from the mag in 1921

  • I look through digitised archives of libraries that have archived satirical magazines. but this usually yields results in english and that are anglocentric.

here's one from the us library of congress, from the american civil war

28 July 2022 GM Picture 1.png

  • You may recognise the template from more contemporary memes

28 July 2022 GM Picture 2.png

  • If I could read ottoman turkish I would love to look through some ottoman satirical periodicals like "Diojen" from the 19th century. this periodical had a note on the top which said "Diojen is published when its authors are not in prison"

What were some of the most inspiring voices from the larger world (global south) decolonizing memes?

  • One of my friends Naya makes hilarious memes in english, german and brazilian portugese on instagram about the experience of being a migrant from the global majority in germany. she also does lots of cool cultural events and is a comedian. her account is called Bundaskanzlerin. Her memes make a lot of people angry!

Are there platforms that are less US/Western-centric to create and archive memes?

The uses of memes both on the right and left have been discussed only in the aspect of impact, but in our conversation, you also highlighted how they bring joy, would you like to tell us more about this?

  • Yes definitely!
  • A lot of meme research focuses on deviant young white men who wish to harm or troll others, this is understandable because they pose a risk to communities. However this focus ends up perpetuating the idea that memes are only used for nefarious purposes. this isn't true. In my field research, I met many people who use their memes to further mutual aid projects, such as who fundraises money for charities or communities through their memes. But beyond political organizing, the act of sharing a meme is also one of the most mundane and important parts of daily life on the internet. it's an act of friendship, of laughter, and joy. its mundanity does not mean it has not value, in fact, it means that it is a vital part of friendship practices online

Just few days ago, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) account on twitter used a meme format to communicate that they’re combatting ‘terrorism’ (aka Palestinian presence, ) in the Middle East, what do you think would be a good approach to tackling this issue of authoritarian regimes using memes? Should we respond with memes or what is often labeled as a ‘serious response’?

  • There will be many different responses to this question and I think there are different ways to think about it as well but I believe that memes should be countered with memes . I think I know the meme you are talking about, the little miss enter caption memes right?
  • @djinnkazama on instagram makes a lot of biting memes about idf for instance
  • But we also have to move away from the understanding (which has been pervasive in journalistic and academic circles) that memes are the "everyday talk of everyday people", they are not! they are used from the bottom up, and the top down, and there are many such examples, they can be joyous and but can also act as bite sized state propaganda
  • Nayib bukele, the president of el salvador, is notorious for his self aggrandising memes (I'm sure he doesn't make them himself) for instance
  • To fight against the power of such memes, memetic narrative tools can be used, like making people think the idf meme itself is "cringe". It's simplistic but it works. Good meme creators can make this happen, and not all of us are blessed with the power of one liners, those who are should use their powers for good…
  • Memes are subcultural tools, and the essence of subculture is "coolness" and "style" therefore they can be weaponized against top down fascistic propaganda
  • Dick hebdige wrote an interesting book about subcultures, and especially the punk movement which we can use to understand today's digital subcultures

How can our community engage and support your project? And what's the best way to stay in touch?

  • You can follow us on twitter, instagram and youtube: memestudiesrn
  • You can visit our index on memestudiesindex.com
  • and you can send me any funding leads at idilgalip1@gmail.com