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Digital-Networked Images as Personal Acts of Political Expression: New Categories for Meaning Formation

Mona Kasra
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Mona Kasra: Department of Drama, University of Virginia, USA

Media and Communication, 2017, vol. 5, issue 4, 51-64

Abstract: This article examines the growing use of digital-networked images, specifically online self-portraits or “selfies”, as deliberate and personal acts of political expression and the ways in which meaning evolves and expands from their presence on the Internet. To understand the role of digital-networked images as a site for engaging in a personal and connective “visual” action that leads to formation of transient communities, the author analyzes the nude self-portrait of the young Egyptian woman Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, which during the Egyptian uprisings in 2011 drew attention across social media. As an object of analysis this image is a prime example of the use of digital-networked images in temporally intentional distribution, and as an instance of political enactment unique to this era. This article also explains the concept of participatory narratives as an ongoing process of meaning formation in the digital-networked image, shaped by the fluidity of the multiple and immediate textual narratives, visual derivatives, re-appropriation, and remixes contributed by other interested viewers. The online circulation of digital-networked images in fact culminates in a flow of ever-changing and overarching narratives, broadening the contextual scope around which images are traditionally viewed.

Keywords: Arab; Spring; feminist; art; online; images; political; expression; self-portrait; selfies; social; media; visual; communication (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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