In a post-fact landscape, Trump’s highly effective swipes at “fake news” have repurposed a venerable leftist critical tradition into a political bludgeon to which progressives have no real answer, other than to defend a handful of corporate entities as torchbearers of democracy and consensual factual reality. What is needed is an approach that speaks to the real problem, which is that the relentless expansion of capitalized digital media (including but not limited to ‘the news’) is deeply anti-social, and thus anti-democratic. This is a position that spans our political and class spectrum in unexpected ways, as I examine in this article. Ironically, a renewed leftist skepticism of ‘the media’ is thus both necessary to our moment, and potentially an interesting point of political convergence.
From critical reflections on the discipline and experiences of it, to grappling with fake news and social media through an anthropological lens, to discussions on race and diversity in the anthropological imagination and the United States more broadly, this year’s top articles speak to major political moments and discipline-specific concerns.
In Ghana, creative culture and the contemporary art sphere is in a period of exponential growth and refiguration. Across Accra and Kumasi, the contemporary creative scene has been growing at an unprecedented rate since 2011–pervading public spaces, transportation infrastructure, historical sites, and online social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In the absence of support structures for the arts, many artists and institutions have begun using urban public spaces as creative venues and substantive mediums for producing and displaying art.
“Okay, let’s start the memes,” posted a member of a community Facebook page in the town of Playa del Carmen, shortly after the first presidential debate concluded. Within minutes, the comments section of the post filled with hilarious, insulting, insightful, and downright offensive memes making fun of the five (currently four) presidential candidates.