Studying right-wing nationalism on Instagram, the researchers have found encoded stereotypes of threat in the use of colour, religious structures, clothes and other physical markers of cultural identity in generating content for Islamophobia.
Benson Rajan, Assistant Professor, Jindal School of Journalism & Communication, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Shreya Venkatraman, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light a crisis of racism and violence on social media by right-wing nationalists in India. Twitter and Instagram have become the online spaces to spew misinformation about the pandemic. Instagram pages such as Hindu_Secret and Hindu_he_hum have been unrelenting and vicious in spreading Islamophobic campaigns using the COVID-19 pandemic. This has opened up opportunities for targeting the Muslim community in India.
This study positioned itself within the theoretical framework of Stuart Hall’s encoding and decoding theory to uncover the visual and textual codes used to create stigma and blatant stereotypes that dehumanize and demonize certain communities using social media. This is an explorative inquiry that engaged in a semiotic analysis of the Instagram pages of Hindu_Secret and Hindu_he_hum.
The study found encoded stereotypes of threat in the use of colour, religious structures, clothes and other physical markers of cultural identity in generating content for Islamophobia. Coronavirus was portrayed to have Islamic parentage in the memes; thus, it portrayed the Muslim community of nurturing and intentionally spreading the virus across India.
Published in: Journal of Arab & Muslim Media Research
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