Sociology and Anthropology Seminar: Akane Kanai

Thursday, 19 May 2016, 04:00 pm

Location: Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, Callaghan Campus, University of Newcastle, Australia
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Akane Kanai image
Ms Akane Kanai

The Sociology and Anthropology Seminar Series presents Ms Akane Kanai, Associate Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle, Australia. Ms Kanai will speak on the topic of Spectatorial Girlfriendship: the Gendered Classificatory Imagination of Participatory Digital Cultures.


This paper is concerned with how the gendered, raced and classed practices of readership of a humorous meme on Tumblr organises forms of sociality and belonging along these lines. Based on the anonymous Tumblr blog, WhatShouldWeCallMe, the meme narrates feelings and reactions related to youthful, feminine, Western “everyday” experience through the use of captions and GIF images. Drawing on New Literacy Studies’ approaches to literacy, I suggest the practices of readerly participation in the meme require a social rather than individual set of competencies and knowledges. I propose “spectatorial girlfriendship” as a term encompassing how the texts of the meme require the reader to operationalise gendered, classed and raced classificatory knowledges and construct social forms of commonality on this basis. Bodies in the GIFs become ‘stock’ images, used for selective resignification. I demonstrate how spectatorial girlfriendship as a readerly lens arranges, transacts and interacts gender, class and race in multiple ways, indexing social inequalities without recognising them as such.

Ms Akane Kanai previously worked as a lawyer and is now engaged in interdisciplinary research, which draws on feminist cultural studies and feminist sociological work. She is interested in media and popular culture in all its forms, and how it shapes identity and the way people are able to relate to others. Her recent doctoral research explores how young women negotiate contemporary social demands to be 'individuals' through a set of blogs of Tumblr.

This is a free event. All are welcome and there's no need to RSVP.

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