Visual Participation from March 28, 2017
In reading Kathleen Rodgers and Willow Scobie’s “Sealfies, seals and celebs”, I found the article to be in conversation with Michael Koliska and Jessica Roberts’s “Selfies: Witnessing and Participatory Journalism with a Point of View” as both articles note the way selfies function as a kind of journalism and a witness. In their article, Rodgers and Scobie write:
“The entries – text, photos, videos – constitute living archives, something in the style of journalism, and sometimes as witness testimonials, that altogether render the voices of the Inuit louder by virtue of transforming ‘private’ viewpoints into ‘public’ accounts” (81).
In noting this Inuit journalistic style, they echo Koliska and Roberts who write that selfies “communicate that one has witnessed” but one has claimed “an identity by placing the self in the center” of the selfie (1681). Intrigued with these similarities, I want to explore how Inuit #sealfies ‘authenticate’, assert, and aggregate testimonials and resist neo-colonial perceptions of Inuit life.
The selfie in the Inuit context provides a visual and disseminated example of digital, visual participation beyond “geographical and political marginalization” (81). A #sealfie exemplifies a dual participatory act. First, the #sealfie is a way to claim and authenticate Inuit life by demonstrating “individual ownership of one’s part” in the seal hunt. Second, the #sealfie is a “representation of that participation” (1680). Agruably then, selfies are a way of (a) visualising participation, (b) visually participating in the public sphere, and (c) making visual claims to participation.
Thus, I wonder:
- Are selfies visible claims to citizenship? In that, do they exemplify visible markings of participation with forms of belonging, kinship, community, and/or nationhood? How do they engage in the public sphere as a means of belonging or participation?
- Could we argue that the #sealfies movement is “a transparent and community based … endeavour to depict the truth”? (1681)
Koliska, Michael, and Jessica Roberts. “Selfies: Witnessing and Participatory Journalism with a Point of View.” International Journal of Communication. 9 (2015): 1672-1685. Web. 26 Feb. 2017
Rodgers, Kathleen, and Willow Scobie. “Sealfies, Seals and Celebs: Expressions of Inuit Resilience in the Twitter Era.” Interface 7.1 (2015): 70-97. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.