Politics doesn’t always happen in Parliament or even in demonstrations anymore,” notes Carleton history professor Jennifer Evans. “So I think it’s interesting to consider such ordinarily banal spaces as Flickr and Twitter as political spaces. More and more, they’ve become important for political opposition and political change.”
With a major grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Evans and her Carleton colleagues Christiane Wilke, a legal scholar; historian Shawn Graham; and communications professor Josh Greenberg have embarked on a two-year project called “Hate 2.0: Combating the Radical Right in the Age of Social Technology.”
Evans and her collaborators will examine the ways social media are being used to combat neo-Nazism and other radical-right strains of thought in Germany and Canada.
“A lot of this is kind of make it as you go,” says Evans, an academic envelope-pusher best known for probing into the history of sexuality (Life Among the Ruins: Cityscape and Sexuality in Cold War Berlin).
“To this point, my historian brethren haven’t taken seriously that social media can actually be a historical force for these kinds of questions. It’s too new, it’s too fleeting, maybe too popular. So that got me thinking there’s a project that needs to be done—one that could be expanded in a number of different ways.”