Fall 2021

Dr. Gabriella Coleman on Alt Right vs. Anonymous: A Critical Comparison


Arts Building Room W-20, 853 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 0G5, CA

Today's "alt" or "far right" is a loose coalition of internet trolls, white nationalists, men's rights activists, game enthusiasts, and others have become a subject of intense scrutiny for their shrewd use of digital communications to recruit new participants, manipulate the news narrative, and nurture a political movement in support of the Trump Presidency and its policies. Some critics compare this movement to one that emerged 6 years ago: Anonymous---the hacktivist collective that captured news headlines for its computer hacking sprees, vigilante justice operations, and support of social movements like Occupy and the Arab Spring. In her talk, Coleman argues that these are two very different movements, notwithstanding that both emerge from habits of Internet trolling and transgression. She will compare Anonymous to the Alt Right, honing in on their origins, methods, tactics, and modes of recruitment, highlighting substantial differences and making the broader case for careful historical analysis in media studies work on virtual domains. The very classification of such disparate movements as "Internet activism" fails to capture the dynamics and importance of online tools for political movements today.

Gabriella (Biella) Coleman holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, she researches, writes, and teaches on computer hackers and digital activism. Her first book on Free Software, Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking has been published with Princeton University Press. Her book, "Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous," published by Verso, was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2014.

This event is part of the Feminist and Accessible Publishing and Communications Technologies Speaker and Workshop Series (https://www.feministandaccessiblepublishingandtechnology.com). This series was made possible thanks to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies of McGill, MILA, the Dean of Arts Development Fund of McGill, Media @McGill, McGill's Department of History and Classical Studies, the William Dawson Fund, RéQEF, the Moving Image Research Laboratory, Element AI, and L'Euguélionne: Montreal's Feminist Bookstore.

There is no fee required to attend this event. Notes on accessibility will be announced closer to the event.

Back to top