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Digital Truth-making Among the New Chinese Online Fandom Nationalists

Between Online Popular Culture and Political Participation

Chenyang Song

In recent years, the rise of digital populist and/or nationalist movement and the post-truth phenomenon have affected the political landscapes of many countries, including China. This article focuses on how pop-cultural practices and practices of political participation intertwine in the digital truth-making process of Chinese online “fandom nationalists”. Using over one year of ethnographic mixed-methods data analysis following relevant hashtags and chat groups, I illustrate the truth-making practices of these online users and their clear preference for information with ideological affinities. I argue that the social media affordances allow Chinese online fandom nationalists to create various forms of strong synergies between pop-/fandom-cultural and political practices that provide an ideal ground for the propagation of certain political truths while simultaneously suppressing/hiding the truths of others.

Open access

Special Issue: Digital Truth-making

Anthropological Perspectives on Right-wing Politics and Social Media in “Post-truth” Societies

Christoph Bareither, Alexander Harder, and Dennis Eckhardt

How do users of social media platforms produce, shape and share truths online? In this introduction, we outline our understanding of digital truth-making as a process that builds on the affordances of digital infrastructures to entangle information with social, cultural and emotional dynamics in a way that co-constitutes beliefs and convictions about the world. The contributions to the special issue illuminate how different variations of this process can be illuminated with the help of digital ethnography and additional empirical methods. In doing so, they exemplify how digital anthropology can contribute to ongoing debates about populism and right-wing politics in “post-truth” digital societies.

Open access

Feeling the Truth

Emotions and Digital Truth-making within Right-wing Populist Networks on Twitter/X

Pia Schramm and Julia Molin

Based on an investigation of how everyday users participate in right-wing populist discourse on social media platforms, this article explores the emotional practices that shape and legitimise purported truths about the threat posed by Islam to the Western world. The article builds on the findings of an online ethnography of a right-wing community of users on Twitter. Drawing on a practice theory approach of emotions that considers the properties of social media platforms, we argue that right-wing populist claims to truth do not function in a linear way. The emotions mobilised in this context do not solely focus on rejection and exclusion. Rather, right-wing populist truth-making is a complex process in which emotional practices of inclusion and exclusion are interwoven.