Scholarship: Instagram Slideshows, Black Lives Matter, and Technoliberalism

My paper, “Technoliberal Participation: Black Lives Matter and Instagram Slideshows” was just published in AoIR’s Selected Papers of Internet Research archive.

After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, Black Lives Matter protests surged around the globe. Amid COVID-19, activism on social media flourished. On Instagram, use of the ten-image carousel as an informative slideshow akin to a PowerPoint presentation gained significant attention: The New York Times highlighted their “effort to democratize access to information.” In this paper, I rhetorically analyze case studies to illustrate how Instagram slideshows facilitated deliberation about participation. I argue that these posts reveal a tension in platformed digital activism: as digital templates broaden access to participation, technoliberal ideology constrains activist judgment.

Salzano, Matthew. 2021. “Technoliberal participation: Black Lives Matter and Instagram Slideshows.” Association of Internet Researchers Selected Papers in Internet Research.  

This project is ongoing as: a pedagogical guide for college educators (co-authored, under review), a chapter for my dissertation, and an online archive of Instagram slideshows. The pedagogical guide, which we hope will be available soon, details how to facilitate an assignment where students create an Instagram activist slideshow. The chapter looks closely at a media history of slideshows–how did they arrive on Instagram, and what rhetorical features did they bring with them? And the archive (currently in Beta testing) hopes to support scholars, educators, and activists who want to browse a collection of slideshows for education, criticism, and/or inspiration.

I look forward to sharing more, and please reach out if you’re interested in chatting more about Instagram activism via slideshows.

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