Section members Ally McCrow-Young and Mette Mortensen publish a new research article
Section members Ally McCrow-Young and Mette Mortensen publish a new research article in the European Journal of Cultural Studies, titled ‘Countering spectacles of fear: Anonymous’ meme ‘war’ against ISIS’.
The article examines the role of meme culture in the operationalization of digital warfare, addressing the case of the global hacking network Anonymous declaring ‘war’ against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, in their online campaign ‘Troll ISIS Day’. The article develops a theoretical framework for understanding the spectacle of fear generated by ISIS and the counter-spectacle created through Anonymous’ trolling practices and explores empirically how Anonymous uses humor to combat fear through the memes produced on ‘Troll ISIS Day’. Bottom-up, cultural forms such as memes are increasingly woven into strategies for countering the fear associated with terrorism, and they represent the potential for humor to generate public engagement. However, as these memetic counter-spectacles draw on the incongruent humor characteristic of meme culture, they both contest and adopt strategies of fear, pointing to ethical challenges inherent in the counter-spectacle.
‘Countering spectacles of fear: Anonymous’ meme ‘war’ against ISIS’ is produced as part of the collective research project ‘Images of Conflict, Conflicting Images’, funded by the Velux Foundation. The article is also part of the European Journal of Cultural Studies’ Special Issue ‘Fear’, supported by the network Media and Fear (Einar Hansen Foundation 2017-2020).”