115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Reframing Latinx/Chicanx in Media: Instagram as Space For Identity Images

Katlin Sweeney, San Diego State University

My paper will examine content generated by the Instagram accounts xicanisma_ and nalgonapositivitypride to discuss the limitations and benefits of an image-driven platform for reimagining representations of Latinxs/Chicanxs in visual media, which can result in space that is either “closed off from” or “held for” people of color.

Proposal: 

Social media accounts maintained by and for Latinxs and Chicanxs are critical sources of empowerment, connection, and visibility for people of color. Unlike in mainstream media, social media platforms such as Instagram offer opportunities for people of color of varying socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds to participate in the creation of Latinx/Chicanx images in public space. Instagram users contribute to the platform through an image-centered approach, as the app’s photo grid and feed position images as the focal point for user interaction. I argue that the accessibility of Instagram’s platform and the app’s photo grid feature revitalize the process in which the “image” of the Latinx/Chicanx individual is literally and culturally constructed in public space. Latinxs/Chicanxs who create Instagram accounts about and for people of color disrupt mainstream media’s monopoly over the “image” of what it means to be Latinx/Chicanx by taking on the role of both viewer and creator of these images. Additionally, I argue that the visual “space” of the individual photos and larger photo grid on Instagram create a physical space for Latinx/Chicanx individuals to convene and discuss the politics of representation in a media forum. My paper will examine content generated by the Instagram accounts xicanisma_ and nalgonapositivitypride to discuss the limitations and benefits of an image-driven platform for reimagining representations of Latinxs/Chicanxs in visual media, which can result in space that is either “closed off from” or “held for” people of color.