I’ve got a new article out in Fibreculture that I’m proud of and think readers of this blog would enjoy. It’s called “/b/lackup: What Trolls Can Teach Us About Race” and it’s an adaptation of some research and writing I did for my dissertation. This is an article years — I think about four total — in the making. It’s not only some of the most meaty research I’ve done, but also some of my riskiest and boldest theorizing.
“/b/lackup” collects a lot of imagery I captured during a period of 4chan lurking. During this time I stumbled upon raids of racially charged raids of World of Warcraft that were a lot like their infamous Habbo Hotel raids, but engaged a bit more with racial histories in particular slavery. The natural reaction, and the one I most often see/read academics espousing, is that these raids are racist and awful and representative of a kind of post-racial racism. This article thinks through that — and agrees in part — but offers an additional lens that tries to understand the potential of raids (and trolling more generally) to be performances or interventions that might actually do some interesting and perhaps even productive work around representation and difference in virtual worlds.