The Chaotic Freedom-Fighter: Anonymous as the Trickster of Cyberculture



Year of publication 2014
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The presentation explores the connections between the hacktivist movement Anonymous and the mythological trickster figure, which is usually studied within the context of Native American and African cultures. Since both the trickster and Anonymous have proved to be too elusive to be trapped in a definition, the presentation takes up the features which were identified by some renowned scholars dealing with this figure as typical for the trickster (most notably Lewis Hyde in his The Trickster Makes This World and William J. Hynes in his essay "Mapping the Characteristics of Mythic Tricksters: A Heuristic Guide"), and these features are then examined in the context of the hacktivist culture. The aim of the presentation is to demonstrate that Anonymous has enough of these features to be considered a trickster in the true sense of the word: it is a group of pranksters, but their pranks often have a serious impact; the movement often plays a role of a situation-invertor and even a culture hero; it is deeply ambiguous and anomalous; and it can be characterised by a lack of identity and a disregard for rules, conventions and boundaries in general. In this way, the presentation in a way challenges the claim made by scholars such as Lewis Hyde or Michael P. Carroll that the true trickster can only be found in mythology, Native American and African in particular.
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