Understanding “Southern” Identities and Confederate Iconography: Internal Orientalism, (mis)Representation, and Social Media
Semester of Graduation
Geography and Anthropology
In light of recent debates surrounding Confederate iconography (flags, statues and symbols), this thesis has three foci. First, the continued construction of the American “South” as an internal “Other.” Second, the reactive perspectives taken by self-identifying “Southerners” who both support and denounce Confederate iconography. Third, the role that social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) have as sites that both disseminate hegemonic discourse and facilitate resistance. Drawing on a Foucauldian discourse analysis of content (news articles, posts, videos, images, memes) published and discussed on social media, I explore whether "the South" continues to be portrayed as a lesser "Other" nationally, and the extent to which "Southerners" resist dominant imaginaries with the contention that they are misrepresented within them.
In answering these questions, and identifying what Confederate materialities mean to those who identify as "Southern,” I argue that national-perspective representations produced and distributed by symbolically powerful entities on social media, do indeed reinforce a popular imaginary of “the South.” This, I suggest, constructs a spatial discourse where “the South” and “Southerners” are internal “Others” and as a result a considerable number of self-identifying “Southerners” feel misrepresented and oppressed. For those who support Confederate iconography, I argue that this contributes to the development of “resistant identities.” By fulfilling its objectives, I hope this study will draw attention to social media’s increasingly influential role in the articulation of imaginative geographies and further the understanding of “Southern” identities that both support and oppose Confederate iconography.
Perham, Robert W., "Understanding “Southern” Identities and Confederate Iconography: Internal Orientalism, (mis)Representation, and Social Media" (2018). LSU Master's Theses. 4728.
Available for download on Tuesday, May 27, 2025