Edited by Nell Haynes and Baird Campbell
[Journal of Language and Sexuality 9:1] 2020
► pp. 69–92
‘Overloaded like a Bolivian truck’
Discursive constructions of gender, race, and nationalism in northern Chilean memes
Memes have become an important linguistic tool not only for communicating emotions and ideas, but also are integral to constructing the self in online space. This paper concentrates on copper miners in northern Chile and the ways they use memes to make claims related to (hetero)sexuality, mestizaje, and nationalism. With men at the mine during week-long shifts and families in towns several hours away, social media is important for maintaining communication as well as representing the self. Miners present their labor as central to their sense of self, with memes that indirectly index heterosexuality, modernity associated with resource extraction, and racial mestizaje linked to nationalism. The visibility of these memes across spaces of both mine and town gives men an opportunity to construct a cohesive digital self, with implications for reinforcing assumptions about what is appropriate gender performance.