Social Media, Popular Culture, and Performance in Nigeria
Published by: Indiana University Press
How does social media activism in Nigeria intersect with online popular forms—from GIFs to memes to videos—and become shaped by the repressive postcolonial state that propels resistance to dominant articulations of power?
James Yékú proposes the concept of "cultural netizenship"—internet citizenship and its aesthetico-cultural dimensions—as a way of being on the social web and articulating counter-hegemonic self-presentations through viral popular images. Yékú explores the cultural politics of protest selfies, Nollywood-derived memes and GIFs, hashtags, and political cartoons as visual texts for postcolonial studies, and he examines how digital subjects in Nigeria, a nation with one of the most vibrant digital spheres in Africa, deconstruct state power through performed popular culture on social media. As a rubric for the new digital genres of popular and visual expressions on social media, cultural netizenship indexes the digital everyday through the affordances of the participatory web.
A fascinating look at the intersection of social media and popular culture performance, Cultural Netizenship reveals the logic of remediation that is central to both the internet's remix culture and the generative materialism of African popular arts.
Introduction: Cultural Netizenship and Viral Practices
1. Afropolitan Anti-heroes and the Performative Politics of Internet Scambaiting
2. The Memeification of Nollywood
3. Self-Spectatoriality and the Performance of Political Selves
4. Visualizing Resistance and Performing with the Visual
5. Social Media Humor and Carnivalesque Aesthetics
6. Virality and Instagram Comedy in A State of Pandemic
Epilogue: Cultural Netizenship and the Praxis of Recovery
To my knowledge, this is the first monograph solely devoted to social media texts in a Sub-Saharan society. Yéku shows us how digital media performances are in constant dialogue with nondigital popular culture in Nigeria. Most compelling is his attention to the political subtexts of Nigerian social media, while reconstructing a micro-history of the digital world. Nigeria's social media users are politicking online; we learn how the forms and aesthetics of politicking change, thus challenging scholars to be constantly alert to digital innovations and their political potential. Cultural Netizenship is an important addition to the growing library in digital humanities.~Katrien Pype, author of The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama. Religion, Media, and Gender in Kinshasa
In Cultural Netizenship, Nigeria's rambunctious, energetic, and impelling digital culture finds its most enthusiastic and intellectually gifted exponent, and the result is a work of rare penetration, analytic verve, and sumptuous literacy. Yékú's expository power conjures images of the finest espresso- richly concentrated, delicately brewed, and revivifying the remotest corners of the palate. This debut work, a distillation of the finest insights across the length and breadth of the social sciences, sets a new standard for scholarship in African and interdisciplinary studies.~Ebenezer Obadare, author of Humor, Silence, and Civil Society in Nigeria
Through its incisive analysis of digital cultures in Nigeria, Cultural Netizenship offers a groundbreaking model for studying the relationship between digital media and the nation in a range of postcolonial contexts. Scholars and students of new media studies have much to learn from Yékú's innovative, ethnographic approach to social media and popular culture.~Roopika Risam, author of New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities
James Yékú might as well have erected the entire framework of Cultural Netizenship on Brecht's "In the contradiction lies the hope." Surely, you can hardly miss the manner in which the author navigates neural lines of digital thought and the quotidian reality of our circumspective analogue choices within structures of power and agency in Nigeria's pop street vis-à-vis the virtual nudity of capital's hidden hands. The strength of this work is in its walking of the tensions, the tight rope of the dialogic and the dialectical mechanism of social media, popular culture, and performance in Nigeria.~Sola Olorunyomi, author of AFROBEAT! Fela and the Imagined Continent
It is by now a commonplace that Nigerians have exerted a conspicuous influence on the interactive landscapes of social media. Wherever in the world one is accessing Facebook or Twitter, and for whatever purpose, one is bound to encounter a meme of Nigerian origin. Cultural Netizenship is the first comprehensive investigation of the performative work of Nigerian digital subjects in a period marked not only by a global pandemic, political unrest, and all manner of protest movements, but also by the globalization of Nollywood and other sources of Nigerian popular culture. James Yékú offers a rich and remarkably varied account of the roles of social media in the cultural and political currents of contemporary Nigeria. His insights will be of importance to Africanists and anyone interested in vernacular uses of digital networks. This is a book of considerable scholarly sophistication that also honors what is riotously funny about some of our most cherished memes.~Noah Tsika, author of Nollywood Stars and Cinematic Independence