Anti-caste Memes as Cultural Archives of Resistance
Keywords:Memes, CAA-NRC, Bahujans, anti-caste resistance, social media, digital cultural heritage
In this article, we make a case for looking at memes as potential digital cultural
heritage artefacts to counter hegemonic narratives around the caste system
in India. We reflect on this potentiality of memes by evaluating how three
anti-caste Facebook meme pages responded to protests against the Indian
Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC)
from December 2019 to March 2020. These pages simultaneously archived and
critiqued key moments of the protests as well as the anti-caste movement through
memes, playing a significant role in amplifying the voices of the Bahujans, the
marginalised caste groups in India. Focusing on the protest memes created by these
pages, we look at the contexts in which the protest memes could be considered
carriers, preservers, and transmitters of cultural knowledge. We argue that memes
could be understood as cultural heritage,not only as objects but as processes and
practices that constitute the building of cultural narratives. We illustrate how the
protest memes hold and demonstrate potential to become digital cultural heritage
as they simultaneously provided a much-needed alternative account of the way
the resistance played out on the streets as opposed to how mainstream media
portrayed them and archived and highlighted key moments of the protests and
the anti-caste movement.
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