Project Overview

The Social Justice #Hashtag Project: A Digital Humanities Study Project Overview

People around the world have used the social media platform “Twitter” to examine, discuss, and inform the public about social and political issues affecting their communities. For example, in 2006, activist Tarana Burke founded the “MeToo” movement to advocate for low-income Black women and girls that experience sexual harassment and assault. In 2017, the hashtag #MeToo named after the organization went viral on social media following the sex abuse allegations that put entertainment tycoon Harvey Weinstein in police custody. Burke’s movement became a viral and grassroots platform for women suffering from sexual violence. The movement’s hashtag even inspired another movement “Time’s Up” wherein Hollywood megastars created a multimillion-dollar campaign in order to expose sexual harassment as well as the gender income gap.

A selection of five Lender Student Fellows will create social media projects using Twitter hashtags, text-mining, and data analytical software to identify ongoing movements inspired by critical perspectives of social (in) justice. Through exploratory categories such as race, gender, class, sexuality, or other societal concerns, the team will examine messages in order to identify “trends” in social media. We welcome students from all academic disciplines who are passionate about finding solutions to complex problems and want to sustain and encourage diversity and inclusion at Syracuse University.

Students will engage in collaborative scholarship with Faculty Fellow Casarae Gibson-Abdul-Ghani to explore the following questions and outcomes that have been tested through empirical research within the digital humanities to support the following arguments:

  • What makes Twitter an impactful social media space for social justice awareness?
  • What are the possible limits that make Twitter an effective or ineffective space of reform?
  • What effective aims can push the national or international conversation about social justice cause to fit a diverse and inclusive framework for all to understand?

In order to interrogate these questions, students will conduct research across several social media, digital humanities, and social justice movement platforms to create their data analysis. Additionally, primary and secondary scholarly resources (books, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, and e-journals) will also inform their work. The purpose of this research is to find solutions to complex social justice problems, strengthen methodological approaches that explore more closely the intersection of digital humanities and computer science, and to encourage such scholarship that transforms how we understand implicit and explicit bias. In the end, we will create a digital repository that articulates our research findings in pictorial form. The repository will serve as a pedagogical tool for future scholars interested in digital humanities and social justice to use the website to inform their own critical hypotheses.