Memory, body, and the online researcher

Following Russian street demonstrations via social media

by Patty A. Gray

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The Moscow street demonstrations of 2011–12 were the largest public gatherings in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. They were also the largest-ever gathering of Russians on social media. While using the Internet to follow such large-scale social movements remotely, researchers experience social media as a context in which anthropology happens. They may think about “being there” in new ways that shift their focus to their own processes of memory making and sense of bodily presence. Experiencing and remembering social media in the body challenges the distinctions we might otherwise make between virtual and physical encounters.

Screen grab from a live UStream broadcast at the car rally (avtoprobeg) around Moscow’s Garden Ring on January 29, 2012.
Screen grab from a live UStream broadcast at the car rally (avtoprobeg) around Moscow’s Garden Ring on January 29, 2012. (Civil Journalism Agency Ridus)