MARC Lecture: “'Fake' Genre, Twitter Humor, and the Constitution of Youth as Political Agents in Guinea – Conakry"
Young Guineans are increasingly turning to Internet “humor” as an avenue for commenting and contesting political authority in Guinea. Using both textual analysis and ethnographic data collected between July 2015 and July 2016 – in and around the 2015 presidential elections, this presentation explores how humor on the social networking site in Guinea allows for an extension of the terms of political debates. Guinea provides a particularly suited case since the “fake” account posing as the Guinean president, Dr. Alpha Condé, has twice as many followers as the official account of the president, thus raising key questions with regards to the intersections of social media, youth activism, and authoritative sovereignty. Using this and other examples such as the recent #TaxeDeSuivisme hashtag invites a broader discussion of media activism, humor, and the constitution of the youth as a collective political agent in Guinea.
Clovis Bergère is a visual ethnographer whose research examines the politics of youth as they are realized in relation to digital media in Guinea, West Africa. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Childhood Studies at Rutgers University-Camden, with a specialization in global youth media. His dissertation, “Digital Society and the Politics of Youth in Guinea,” explores social networking as a locus for the mediation and re-imagination of political subjectivities in Guinea. Using digital ethnography and participatory visual research, he examined the ways in which social media, youth, and politics intersect in the Guinean public sphere. His research has been supported by the African Studies Association, Rutgers Digital Studies Center, and a David K. Sengstack Fellowship for excellence in Childhood Studies. In addition to digital media, he has written and published on street corners as spaces of youth socialization in Guinea. Prior to moving to the United States in 2011, he worked for seven years as a project manager in Children’s Services in London, UK, where he was responsible for building thirty innovative playgrounds and youth centers, focused on natural play and collaborative design.