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In a new book review in Communication Theory, Daniel Kreiss highlights the significant contribution of three recent books to communication theory and research:

  • Distributed Blackness: African American cybercultures, by André Brock Jr.
  • #HashtagActivism: Networks of race and gender justice, by Sarah Jackson, Moya Bailey, and Brooke Foucault Welles
  • Bearing witness while Black: African Americans, smartphones, and the new protest #journalism, by Alissa Richardson

In this review, Dr. Kreiss points out that these books taken together continue in the arc of #CommunicationSoWhite, demonstrating how a “racial analytic” is essential for communication theory and research. In Distributing Blackness, Dr. Brock applies a new theoretical framework to argue that the internet is now a ” Black space,” defined by “libidinal online expressions and practices of joy and catharsis” as opposed to “White digital practices such as incivility, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and violence.” #Hashtag Activism offers a crucial corrective in the field, centering voices of Black Americans, women, and trans people and challenging existing structures of power. And by reconstructing our understanding of “witnessing” as a social practice suffused with social power, Dr. Richardson shows in Bearing witness while Black how communication theory concepts that abstract from history, context, and race are fundamentally limited in their analytical value.

In his review, Dr. Kreiss reflects on the achievements of the individual authors, as well as their collective implications for the study of communication:

As these books argue across many different domains, race and ethnicity are structuring aspects of human societies, and therefore at the heart of communication.  They show us how social differentiation and social inequality affects communication, even as communication reifies or transforms social structures and social identities in turn. All three books explicitly and implicitly critique White and other dominant ways of knowing and unknowing… And it is only from a dominant White racial position that the field can imagine solidarity on fundamentally unequal terms as a normative democratic good.

 

Read the Full Review

 

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