Buffalaxed superdiversity: representations of the other on YouTube

by Sirpa Leppänen and Ari Häkkinen

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In this article, we investigate how the oriental Other – increasingly a diversifying being – is represented in the context of translocal YouTube culture. More specifically, we look at videos which through subtitling and editorial commentary entextualize and resemiotize the figure of the Other to western audiences. We will take a close look at three typical ‘buffalaxed’ videos and investigate how each of these constructs images of the Other that are both divergent from the image transmitted in the source video as well as quite ambiguous and multi-layered. On the basis of our analysis, we will argue that while the videos repeat and remodify aspects of the stereotypical and discriminatory Western heteronormative metanarratives of the Orient, they also depict the Other in ways in which his/her otherness is no longer the simple anti-thesis of ‘Us’ – the western subject – but, occasionally, aligned with or even very much like ‘Us’.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:
Leppänen, S., Häkkinen, A., Buffalaxed superdiversity: representations of the other on YouTube. Diversities. 2012, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 17-33, UNESCO. ISSN 2079-6595
www.unesco.org/shs/diversities/vol14/issue2/art2

About the authors
Sirpa Leppänen is Professor in the Department of Languages at University of Jyväskylä, Finland. With her research team, she investigates the ways in which the resources provided by languages and discourses are used in social media and for the collaborative creation, negotiation and appropriation of a participatory social and cultural reality off- and online. She has approached these questions within a framework provided by sociolinguistics, discourse studies, ethnography and cultural studies.

Ari Häkkinen is a publishing editor from Helsinki, Finland. He has copy edited books on such topics as populism and extreme right-wing movements in Finland, radical constructivism as a tool for social change, Occupy movement, post-Keynesian economics, and basic income. Previously he has worked as a research assistant in Leppänen’s research team at the University of Jyväskylä. His collaboration with Leppänen is focused on social media and social commentary.

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