Mariam Durrani

An article by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Mariam Durrani examining “#MeToo” from a linguistics point of view, was published by Anthropology News on Dec. 21. In “#MeToo, Believing Survivors, and Cooperative Digital Communication,” Durrani analyzes “the hashtag’s emergence in co-oxygenated social interaction [and] its transformation through digital communication.”

Using specific historical references, Durrani traced “me too” from its origin as the second part of an adjacency pair that signals turn-taking in a conversation, to its performative digital strategy on social media.

She noted that “when the second pair-part ‘me too’ move[d] from a one-on-one interactional frame to the digital frame of a tweet…the hashtag #MeToo provided users…the possibility to be validated and legitimized through a synchronized digital harmony of thousands of #MeToo responses.”

Durrani said that through its transformation, the power of “me too” in an atypical adjacency pair becomes a resource for thousands — “a powerful online discursive formation to talk openly about sexual trauma and violence in the public sphere—a site where this kind of revelation and legitimization has not been acknowledged, much less encouraged or supported.”

Durrani also expressed concern that “media coverage of MeToo has overwhelmingly focused on the hashtag #MeToo and much less so on specific allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.

“We see how an atypical adjacency pair has set off a movement by believing survivors, and that we must continue to analyze how the #MeToo movement can continue its important work,” she concluded.

Anthropology News a publication of the American Anthropological Association.

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