The Dalit I Define: Social Media and Individualized Activism in Subaltern Spheres

Johannes G. de Kruijf

Abstract


This paper discusses an explorative study of emerging Dalit activism in online realms. It is the aim of this study to provide empirical content to debates that link the advance of social media to shifts in citizenship and the manifestation of democracy. It seeks to unravel the complexity and hybrid appearance of online activism in practice by focussing on underexplored subaltern spheres. After some contextualizing reflections concerning literature on Dalit media and online political participation, it assesses attempts of prominent Dalit bloggers to employ social media in their battle for justice, representation and socio-economic mobility. Contributing to current debates on collective (and connective) action and ‘new’ or personalized politics – especially since Web 2.0 – the article stresses the importance of embracing a broad conceptualization of online political practice and the need to explore such practice as part of contemporary projects of self. It is argued that, in order to explore the dynamics of personalized politics within marginalized communities, one needs to assess the way in which the intertwinement of these individual projects of self and the collective emancipatory project appear in online social networking strategies of digital activists. As such, the analysis adds to the understanding of every day activism at grassroots level in the age of the Internet.

Keywords


Personalization of politics; social media; collective action; Dalits, subalternity; online activism; projects of self

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Kruijf, J. G. (2015). " The Dalit I Define: Social Media and Individualized Activism in Subaltern Spheres "Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 7(4), pp.11-24.