Imagining globalised fears

School shooting videos and circulation of violence on YouTube

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Author:
Johanna SumialaDepartment of Social Research/Media and Communication Studies
FIN‐00014 University of Helsinki P.O. Box 54
Helsinki Finland and School of Communication, Media and Theatre
FI‐33014 University of Tampere, Finland
 johanna.sumiala@helsinki.fi

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Minttu TikkaDepartment of Social Research/Media and Communication Studies
FIN‐00014 University of Helsinki
P.O. Box 54 Helsinki Finland

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In recent years there has been a revival of interest in the concept of circulation in the field of anthropology. This article aims at elaborating the idea of circulation, namely, in the context of media anthropology. We illuminate the workings of circulation by illustrating how violent media images travel on YouTube and how video clips contribute to the formation and reformation of globalised social imaginaries of violence. Special attention is given to the circulations of school shooting videos on YouTube. Through fieldwork on YouTube videos associated with the Columbine, Virginia Tech, Jokela and Kauhajoki massacres, the article draws on George Bataille's ideas on symbolic violence to claim that the school shootings as visual media spectacles of violence, death and terror can be seen as paradigmatic examples of deadly events that have a potential to stimulate social imaginaries of horror and anxiety through the cultural logic of circulation in the era of globalisation.

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