Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
The proliferation of extremist digital communities are increasingly becoming of great concern to the social and cultural fabric of society: notably, movements like the alt-right as well as “The Manosphere” coalesce in online spaces where they build not just community, but engage in the practices that foster a sense of belonging within any social group – digital or otherwise. These online communities, particularly in regard to the more radical ones, then negotiate membership based on these strict adherences to content moderation, language, and practices like preservation of content and setting boundaries on membership (we are x community, we are not y community) but also the digital spaces they find themselves in. Research on extremist groups online focuses on the makeup of the group’s content, their conversational dynamics, and their larger networks and uses of digital media in propagating their content. While all of these projects answer important questions regarding how extremism online functions, what this project hopes to answer is how these worlds are sustained when they are forced out; what happens when world builders are under constant threat; and the practices they use to rebuild and preserve their beliefs. Thus, this project informs the literature on these topics by viewing how extremist communities navigate platform and infrastructural politics and exploit their affordances and views their world-building practices as the creation of symbolic infrastructures than transcend the material constraints. By theorizing through the lens of how they arrange themselves across platforms, the dynamics and inherent political tensions are more visible.