Locating the politics of amateur media

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2020-09-14

Authors

Mauro, Daniel Joseph

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Abstract

Amateur media are increasingly and more rapidly a part of broader discourses relevant to the politics of the everyday. As amateur media continue to evolve, expand, and permeate daily practice, communication, and politics, our understanding of amateur media and their power to impact structural change must also evolve. This dissertation examines the changing ways in which we may locate politics in amateur media, arguing that amateur media are best understood as inherently political objects. This project explores what makes an object of amateur media political, where we locate the politics of this object both internally and externally, and how these politics change over time. This dissertation proposes the concept of informal media politics to account more fully for the range of ways in which amateur media may or may not actively engage in the political, from the seemingly nonpolitical to the overtly political. The politics of amateur media are examined at three key stages: production, distribution, and curation. The chapters of this dissertation offer three case studies that each focus on these stages across distinct contexts: an individual’s YouTube channel, a nonprofit that acts as an intermediary for amateur video, and a major federal institution that selects home movies to be included among its canon of films considered significant to national film heritage. These case studies build progressively upon the ideas introduced in this dissertation, locating the politics of amateur media in a variety of texts and contexts.

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