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Otey Scruggs Memorial Lecture Featuring Jennifer V. Evans

Eggers Hall, 220

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"Illiberal Memory and Transatlantic Hate Networks in the Twentieth- and Twenty-First Centuries"

This talk applies a data-driven analysis of online hate networks to trace how false framings of the historical past, what we call historical misinformation, circulates across platforms, shaping the politics of the center alongside the fringes. Through the culling of large datasets from social media platforms, it analyzes how harmful speech and civilizational rhetoric is circulated by far-right groups across borders, noting specifically when and how they are taken up in the mainstream as legitimate discourse.

We began with a basic question: to what extent is this actually new? As much as the atomized publics of our current day create ideal conditions for radical ideas to fester and circulate, it shows that it is essential to look for linkages across time, drawing on interdisciplinary methods from the fields of history, media and communication, and data science to identify the tactics, strategies, and repertoires among such groups and individuals.

In thinking about transatlantic hate networks and the migration of people and ideas cross borders, this talk pieces together some of these connections, with a focus on far-right hate —homegrown and imported. Ultimately, it argues that illiberalism is not just a marker of authoritarian regimes. It is real and underappreciated aspect of liberal democracy itself.

Jennifer Evans is professor of history at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, located on the unceded and unsurrended territories of the Anishnaabek/Omàmiwininìwag. She has written books and articles on the history of sexuality, photography, social media and memory. Her most recent books include "The Queer Art of History: Queer Kinship After Fascism" (Duke University Press), an edited volume with Shelley Rose for Berghahn in celebration of the life and writing of Jean Quataert, and a co-written monograph "Holocaust Memory and the Digital Mediascape" (Bloomsbury, December 2023).

Evans is currently overseeing Populist Publics, a multi-year, multi-platform big data project on the weaponization of history and hate in social media networks. Alongside her academic writing, she undertakes collaborative digital projects. She is co-curator of the New Fascism Syllabus and the German Studies Collaboratory. 


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