Visual memes as neutralizers of political dissent

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This paper explores the role of visual memes as neutralizers of contested past and present narratives of occupation and dissent by focusing both on the memetic structure of Occupy as well as on the digital visual memes associated with this movement. It examines the emergence of the term "occupy" as a meme in and of itself - Occupy Wall Street spurred Occupy Chicago, Occupy Oakland and even Occupy Sesame Street and Occupy North Pole as well as the "We are the 99%" meme that has come to define Occupy. Through the trope of the meme, this paper further conceptualizes revolution as both return and rupture made possible by viral civil and political dissent. It argues that there is a notable distinction between physical participation in the Occupy Movement and virtual participation through the reworking of Occupy's memes. Whereas the first modality serves as an active disruptor of the political normative imaginary, the second works in precisely the opposite fashion, in its reconstitution of a common-sense dominant image of the political.

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