Networked Social Movements: A Critical Interrogation of Pro and Anti-Immigration Twitter Discourse in India and the USA

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Since 2014, several democratic States across the world have descended into crisis under Far Right populist leaderships that vilify immigrants to forward their ethnonationalist, religio-political, and masculinist agendas. I studied the ways in which pro and anti-immigration social movement discourse was shaped, reified, and promoted online. I historicised and examined online discourse pertaining to four social movements across two distinct national contexts, and across the political aisles in each context: Pro-immigration movement in India (anti-CAA/NRC); Anti-immigration movement in India (pro-CAA/NRC); Pro-immigration movement in USA (Families belong together protests to Abolish ICE); Anti-immigration movement in USA (Build the wall). I conducted a multimethod study beginning with a Qualitative Content Analysis (QCA) (6,000 tweets) followed by a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of 600 tweets. Findings indicated that the anti-immigration movement discourse in both countries: propagated nationalistic emotion via structured weaponisation and counter-framing of “Love” for one’s country; displayed a masculinist spatial rejection of women’s dissent and support for Statist brutalities against dissidents; and engaged in historical revisionism in favour of majoritised groups, re-historicising to discursively establish masculinist hindu-nationalism in the Indian context and white supremacism in the US context. Whereas, the pro-immigration movement discourses in both countries: highlighted women led sit-ins; claimed a fight for the “soul” of India and the USA; actively historicised their own movements as well as Statist brutalities faced by immigrants and activists; and highlighted erasure of certain marginalised groups from mainstream movement discourse. Simultaneously, the use of social media technologies and tools in order to forward movement discourse were discussed in relation to each movement, embedded alongside the analysis of each movement's discourse. My work uncovers the networked ways in which social media technologies impact social movement discourse, especially in the Global South, and will contribute to social movement scholarship by employing a Southern imaginary to dismantle academic tendencies to use theories from the Global North to study data from the Global South.
Immigration, Social Movements, Southern Theory, Twitter, Critical Phenomenology, Social Media Analysis
Khandelwal, C. (2022). Networked social movements: a critical interrogation of pro and anti-immigration Twitter discourse in India and the USA (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from