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Performing Citizenship: Freedom March Selfies by Pakistani Instagrammers

Abstract

Drawing on a close reading of ‘Freedom March’ selfies, published by Pakistani instagrammers in August–December 2014 under #azadimarch, Aziz discusses the relationship between selfies and civic participation offline and online. She offers a qualitative analysis of a shift in selfie practices from documenting media coverage to participation and citizenship performance by Pakistanis in a national freedom march organised in 2014. Focusing on photographs of participants published on Instagram, the chapter draws attention to selfie as a dialogical gesture and polemical representation of political identity performed on social media.

Keywords

  • Selfie
  • Citizenship
  • Performance
  • Instagram
  • #azadimarch

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Fig. 3.1
Fig. 3.2

Notes

  1. 1.

    Other hashtags include #azadimarchpti (3,760 posts); azadimarch14 (8 posts).

  2. 2.

    Indicating what Senft and Baym (2015) note in the case of selfies the ‘politics of their assemblage (by human and nonhuman agents) is a constant reminder that once anything enters digital space, it instantly becomes part of the infrastructure of the digital superpublic, outliving the time and place in which it was originally produced, viewed or circulated’. However, in this case, in spite of Internet filtering, the #azadimarch visual content and selfies continue to be accessible online, most probably also because of their low-interest value to print and broadcast media.

  3. 3.

    ‘On the move’ – selfie with friends on motorbikes. Photo by Instagram user <jawad__ahmed>. Source: https://instagram.com/p/rzq21uBK5h/.

  4. 4.

    ‘Street view’ – masked selfie with a friend, capturing the blockade in the background. Photo by Instagram user <wahab_ali72>. Source: https://instagram.com/p/r5PGwDySMg/?tagged=azadimarch.

  5. 5.

    Composite of ‘indoor’ mirror selfie with media footage. Photo by Instagram user <ahmad.arif.31>. Source: https://instagram.com/p/rmoMLijuRd/?tagged=azadimarch.

  6. 6.

    Pakistani female social media accounts are mostly private, a strategy to avoid policing of their activities by family members.

  7. 7.

    ‘Street view’ Epic Selfie at the march, 15 August 2014. Photo by Instagram user <faizan.h.malik>. Source: https://instagram.com/p/r5JL1hK1pF/?tagged=azadimarch.

  8. 8.

    Family selfie. Photo by Instagram user <farrukhlak>. Source: https://instagram.com/p/t2fm15N2_1/?taken-by=farrukhlak.

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Correspondence to Fatima Aziz .

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Aziz, F. (2017). Performing Citizenship: Freedom March Selfies by Pakistani Instagrammers. In: Kuntsman, A. (eds) Selfie Citizenship. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-45270-8_3

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