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Fan Studies Uncover New Dimensions

As the SMIDGE Team, we are proud to share that Line Nybro Petersen, a prominent figure from our co-coordinator partner institution, the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), has contributed to a groundbreaking article titled 'New territories for fan studies: The insurrection, QAnon, Donald Trump and fandom.' This article delves into the complex relationship between fan practices, politics, and the evolving landscape of participatory culture.

The article, a recorded and edited roundtable discussion among four fan studies researchers, is a thought-provoking exploration that commenced in March 2022. Focused on the alarming events of the US insurrection on January 6, 2021, where QAnon fans, Trump supporters, and other right-wing groups stormed the US Capitol building while live-streaming their activities on social media, the discussion draws out essential perspectives. The discourse not only sheds light on the intersection of fandom, complicity, and politics but also points toward new cultural and social territories for research into fan practices.

Biden-Harris supporters gather around the Capitol on Inauguration Day, Jan 20, 2021. (Big Think Edge/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

A key insight derived from the discussion challenges the conventional distinction between fan practices and participatory culture. Instead, it emphasizes that participatory culture is deeply driven by fan practices, such as textual poaching and enunciative and textual productivity. Understanding this amalgamation of fan practices into other social domains becomes crucial for making sense of current phenomena, including the growth of conspiracy theory communities and right-wing movements.

As fan communities increasingly permeate the domain of politics and conspiracy theories, the article suggests that participatory culture is not only a source of creativity, playfulness, and mobilization but can also be weaponized to serve political agendas. The implications of this intersectionality between fan practices and politics are far-reaching, and fan studies researchers need to focus on these dynamics in the coming years.

The SMIDGE project, with its commitment to understanding and countering online extremism in the 45-65 age group, finds resonance with the challenges posed by the intertwining of fandom, politics, and participatory culture. The insights from Petersen's article encourage a deeper exploration of the multifaceted nature of online communities and their potential influence on political movements.

You can access the article here.

Line Nybro Petersen is an Associate Professor at the Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics.

Holding a Ph.D. and an MA in Film and Media Studies from the University of Copenhagen, her doctoral dissertation, titled "Wicked Angels, Adorable Vampires!" explores the analysis of changes in religious representations in American audiovisual serial fictions and explores religious imaginations in Danish teenagers.

Apart from her research contributions, she serves as an editor for MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research.


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