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Freepalestine on TikTok: from performative activism to (meaningful) playful activism

ABSTRACT Palestinians, like many other diasporic communities, have, on the one hand, articulated their personal experiences and their subjectivities through digitalized channels. On the other, they have used social networks as tools for resistance, to make their voices heard by global public opinion. Acknowledging that each social medium is a unique socio-technological environment, displaying particular affordances that shape its dynamics of communicative practices and social interactions, this paper focuses on TikTok, the most popular social network among Gen Zers, disclosing how the affordances of this platform shape and engender a new form of activism, that we will define “playful activism”. The study presents an inductive, multimodal discourse analysis of a sample of widely viewed and shared #freepalestine TikToks unveiling how young Palestinians use this network to construct their narratives through playful performances, which show a deep knowledge of the app’s affordances and a great capacity to adapt to TikTok`s cultural and discursive environment. However, most importantly, these playful performances allow them to spread their political messages among a youth audience that potentially had no previous interest (and probably not even knowledge) about Palestine, fostering both the humanization of Palestinians and building a new solidarity network.

Structural violence and sources of resistance among Palestinian children living under military occupation and political oppression

ABSTRACT The ongoing occupation in Palestine involves structural colonial oppression over the native population, depriving Palestinians of fundamental human rights. The set of political, social, economic, and environmental factors that result from the occupation has a lasting direct and indirect effect on the well-being of the children exposed to systematic violence. In this study, we explored the effect of systematic violence and military oppression in a group of 22 school-aged youths (M = 12.2; SD =  2.69, 45.5% girls) living in the West Bank. We identified factors associated with children’s maladjustment to potentially traumatic environments and survival skills following a socio-ecological lens. Data were collected through biographical participative interviews. The TCA identified six themes: the pervasiveness of the Israeli violence; the unexpected costs of the pandemic; victims and perpetrators of intra-community violence; everyday acts of happiness (or normalcy); support from families, peers, and community; subverting negative situations, and fighting back. Children emerged as continuously engaged in adjustment and readjustment to inhuman living conditions, making normal what is abnormal in their development. The study draws attention to the political antecedent and determinants of the Palestinian children’s actions and reactions to violence, highlighting the impossibility of exploring children’s growth while avoiding political and human rights implications.