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Beneath the Pavement, What? Memes and Politics in Post-Socialism

Beneath the Pavement, What? Memes and Politics in Post-Socialism

Project description

This interdisciplinary project analyses Internet ‘memes’ as forms of political expression in the context of post-socialism in Bulgaria. The research aims to contribute theoretically to two main fields: on the one hand, to a growing scholarship on Internet memes, and, on the other, to the study of digital culture as a site of political communication and meaning-making in post-socialism.

Thirty years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, it is not the figures of walls and fences that dominate public discourse and the visual imagery of post-communist Bulgaria, but rather a multitude of images of the surfaces of sidewalks and pavements, cracked cement, broken and mismatched tiles, raised rail tracks, potholes. These are often shared on social media and transformed into widely circulated memes, cartoons, puns, and even spontaneous flash mobs.

The aim of this project is to critically reappraise claims about the allegedly apolitical character of post-socialism through an analysis of humorous interventions and memes that specifically target contested urban infrastructure projects in Bulgaria. The research will consider seemingly individual acts of humorous engagement with the urban environment, in particular Internet memes, as parts of larger ensembles of signification to develop a theoretical framework for their analysis.

The project is funded through a three-year Early Career Fellowship awarded to Dr Neda Genova by the Leverhulme Trust.