This presentation explores the way symbolic violence causes life experience to feel contingent and thus necessitate negotiation of meaning in the everyday. Using the social media posts made by Iranians and Iranian-Americans after the Trump Administration’s travel ban, this presentation highlights the way people use the playful, liminal, mimetic spaces fostered by digital social media to make meaning in their lives after experiencing symbolic trauma. Symbolic traumas occur when people’s meaning making schemas are dismantled by social, political, or cultural events that cause suffering. When people use new media to make sense of their suffering, they are acting on the possibility that in sharing, interacting, and mediating that they will somehow change something, whether that is their life, their circumstances, their meaning, or the meanings made for and about them by others. These everyday mediated tactics enter into circulation of many mediated testimonies and offer the possibility to shift discourse about identity, legibility, embodied experience, and suffering in micro-political ways. The ritualization of sharing becomes a recognized space of meaning making and one that users and producers of media recognize and know how to navigate. Following De Certeau (1984), this work operates from the point that marginality is “massive and pervasive” and that everyday practices of the weak are tactical in nature. Rajabi does so in order to interrogate how social media users resist oppressive social frameworks while simultaneously intervening with and participating in them. This presentation ultimately looks at the way communicative practices enable people to inform, represent, dismantle, mediate, and re-make meanings about their life, when their life’s meaning becomes contingent.
Samira Rajabi, Ph.D., completed her doctoral degree in Media Research and Practice at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where her research focused on digital media's affordances in meaning making processes. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication. Rajabi also has a degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship, a minor in French from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Masters in International and Intercultural Communication from the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Her work at the University of Denver focused on development, and social media as resistive tools in social movements and women's rights advocacy.
Rajabi is a scholar of development, international relations, feminist theory, and communication. Her research interests include international communication, trans-national boundaries, and the way culture, particularly popular culture in digital media, have consequences for social systems and movements. Her most recent work at the University of Colorado's College of Media, Communication and Information, focused on the affordances of various media technology to enable individuals suffering from an array of traumatic experiences to make meaning and contend with extreme trauma. Rajabi has presented her work nationally and internationally including at the International Society of Media, Religion and Culture's conferences in Turkey, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. She has also participated in the Center for Media, Religion and Culture's biannual conference since 2011. She also presented her work at the ICA conference in San Diego as a part of the Feminist Studies division. Rajabi published her work on the 2009 Iranian Green Movement in an edited volume from SUNY press titled Social Media in Iran.
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