Doctoral Researcher Basu Soma

125000 €

Unending Everyday Violence: Communal Riots, Rumours and Memories in the Digital Age

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

At a time when online spaces, earlier perceived as free forums for digital publics to interact and socialize, are becoming increasingly corporatized, India has emerged as the biggest source of disinformation across the globe. In the last few years, scholars have argued how online hate speech and targeting have bled into the offline world, forcing platform accountability. Meanwhile, India slipped from being the largest, emergent democracy to an electoral autocracy and the digital repression tactics by formal and informal government agents have emerged as a prominent strain of discussions. Taking Delhi riots 2020 as a model, my research employs sensory ethnography to attempt the first-ever academic exploration into why and how the digital public is trapped in a perpetual cycle of political violence which does not let fissures of caste, religion and politics heal. From Myanmar to Brazil, Social media’s role as an enabler and narrator of communal and political conflict is being debated repeatedly. Many academic studies on communal riots focus on how a conflict starts and then moves on to the process of normalization after spectacular violence. My doctoral research, for the first time, questions the ending of violent conflicts and proposes that in the age of social media, such violence never ends. Instead, they play on in a loop on our mobile handsets, in digital memories, in imaginations and sutures of everyday life and the sociality of message sharing. Using Delhi riots 2020 as a case study, my doctoral research explores the role of digital rumours in memory formation and creating a base for violent collective action in the future.