On the occasion of the launch of the ‘Critical Meme Reader, Global Mutations of the Viral Image’, edited by Chloë Arkenbout, Jack Wilson and Daniel de Zeeuw, we dived into meme studies on the 7th of October at Spui25.
Beyond the so-called ‘Alt-right’ and its attendant milieus on 4chan and Reddit, memes have passed the post-digital threshold and entered new theoretical, practical, and geographical territories beyond the stereotypical young, white, male, western subject. As they metastasized from the digital periphery to the mainstream, memes have seethed with mutant energy. From now on, any historical event will be haunted by its memetic double. Our responses to memes in the new decade demand an analogous virtuality.
This event consisted of international and local researchers, activists, and artists, who contributed to the reader, and addressed the following questions, from both a theoretical perspective as from personal experience:
What is the current state of the meme?
How are memes used for political counter-strategies?
Is there a connection between memes and psychoanalysis?
What is the current state of the meme producer?
What does the future for meme studies look like?
You can watch the recording of the event below:
Order or download the reader for free here: https://networkcultures.org/blog/publication/critical-meme-reader-global-mutations-of-the-viral-image/
Global Mutations of the Viral Image by Daniel de Zeeuw
Challenging Oppressive Discourse in Local Politics with Memes with @ibiza_austrian_memes and @commie_central
Genes, Memes, Dreams by Ivan Knapp
Meme Poetry by Laurence Scherz
The Future of Meme Studies with Idil Galip
Daniel de Zeeuw
Critical Meme Reader co-editor Daniël de Zeeuw is assistant professor in Digital Media Culture at the department of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam. He is also a FWO Junior post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Media Studies, KU Leuven, and affiliated with the Open Intelligence Lab and the Digital Methods Initiative. His current research and teaching focus on the post-truth media dynamics at the fringes of digital culture, including conspiracy theories, leaking, trolling, and memes. On the 7th he will introduce the theoretical framework of the event (and the reader) by discussing the current state of the meme.
Anahita Neghabat and Jamie Brands
‘Anahita Neghabat is a Cultural and Social Anthropologist and meme-making activist from Vienna, Austria. As @ibiza_austrian_memes she comments on Austrian interior politics with the aim of intervening in public political discourse from an intersectional feminist, anti-racist and anti-authoritarian perspective.
With @commie_central Jamie Brands critiques Dutch politics from a Marxist point of view.
On the 7th of October, these two meme admins will discuss their experiences in challenging oppressive discourses in local politics.
Ivan Knapp was awarded his PhD in the History of Art by University College London in 2021 for a thesis entitled Meme-work: Psychoanalysis and the alt-right. His research focuses on questions of psychoanalysis and masculinity. On the 7th of October he will discuss the relationship between memes and Freud’s dream work theory.
Laurence Scherz (°1989, Belgium) is a writer, translator, tattoo artist, and meme lover. She currently works for The Hmm, a platform for internet cultures. Aside from this, she’s writing her first collection of short stories, ranging from tales of feminism fairy tales to dystopian, speculative fiction, and magic realism. One time, a boss asked her what a meme was, and she’s never been more enthusiastic about anything ever since. Tonight, she will recite the Meme Poetry she wrote and we will discuss her methods of creation afterwards.
İdil Galip is a writer, researcher and maker. Her work explores the intersections of digital culture and labour, especially with relation to online communities. She is currently a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Edinburgh, finishing up her thesis titled Art Worlds Online: Memes, Labour and Politics. She is also the founder and convener of the Meme Studies Research Network. She will discuss the future of meme studies this evening.
Critical Meme Reader producer and co-editor Chloë Arkenbout joined the Institute of Network Cultures as a researcher, editor and producer in 2020. She has a background in media studies and philosophy and worked as a freelance copywriter, journalist and communications professional for several years, specializing in the cultural and social sector. Next to memes, and viral image culture in general, her research includes topics such as online debate, inclusive language, digital activism, call out culture and (performative) allyship. Next to her role at INC, she works as a teacher at the Communication and Multimedia Design program at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, where she is also a member of the Research Ethics Committee. She will moderate this event.