Social media and video games are increasingly a part of everyday life, impacting our social norms and values across the world. Yet, the social phenomenon of connecting on mediated platforms, as it spans across borders, nationality, age groups, and gender, reinvigorates national ties, and solidifies political cleavages (Akhavan 2013). The proposed dissertation field research will elucidate how Iranian-American and Iranian women gamers use Twitter, Reddit, and Twitch.TV, and World of Warcraft (WoW), a massive multiplayer online game, as spaces of discourse regarding the US 2020 elections. These platforms are also consequently used for the algorithmic rise of the alt-right, through the circulation of memes, leading to a networked ideology of racism online (Daniels 2018). My project examines this political ecosystem among Iranian and Iranian-American women, who produce political discourses, and how the alt-right undermines democracy through the spread of disinformation. For groups such as these, gaming has emerged as a site of political expression, experimentation, aspiration, and a place of play (Motamedi 2019; Sisler 2018). As such, I argue that the affective dimensions, or rather the intensities of the election, will pose new findings on networked publics by articulating the sociopolitical discourses produced among the transnational community in the US. Through postcolonial and feminist frameworks, I will collect data from social media platforms and WoW to show the embodiment, meaning the lived thought, emotion, and feeling, among Iranian and Iranian-American women who are entangled within networked publics of racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia online (Berlant 2011; Stewart 2007).
PhD Candidate, University of Washington