The Social Media Campaign for Caribbean Reparations: A Critical Multimodal Investigation



In 2013, 15 Caribbean Heads of Governments established the CARICOM Reparations Commission (henceforth CRC), with a mandate to prepare a case for slavery reparations against the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands in the International Court of Justice. This paper explores the multimodal discursive strategies employed to argue for slavery reparations on social media, with a focus on Facebook. The corpus of data consists of 95 multimodal wall posts (pictures and captions) posted on the CRC Facebook page between August and November 2016, to be analyzed by means of a critical approach, drawing on Kress and van Leeuwen’s (Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design (2nd Ed.). New York: Routledge, 2006) “Visual Grammar” and integrating key tenets on the discursive construction of collective identities from the Discourse-Historical Approach (Reisigl & Wodak, 2009). Like most emerging social movements of the twenty-first century, the Caribbean cause for slavery reparations also is characterized by an active use of the new affordances of the participatory web (KhosraviNik, M. (2017). Social Media Critical Discourse Studies (SM-CDS). In J. Flowerdew & J. Richardson (Eds.), Handbook of Critical Discourse Analysis (pp. 583–596). London: Routledge). In the context of this study, the CRC Facebook data is regarded as carefully selected information, strategically disseminated by means of a highly interactive platform. By means of its critical multimodal approach, this study accounts for the way in which different semiotic resources are deployed to communicate ideas and values, ultimately contributing to brand the reparation movement identity. Drawing on McKeown (Reparations for Caribbean slavery: combining forward-looking and backward-looking responsibilities. Draft for presentation at the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) general conference, Université de Montreal, August 2015. Available online at Last Accessed 8 Jan 2018, 2015), the analysis sheds light on the interplay between the narration of past historical events and the presentation of future sociostructural improvements in the CRC vision and mission. While the focus on the history of colonial wrongdoings obviously serves the present reparation claims, the way the CRC addresses Caribbean history also plays a crucial role in the complex discursive construction of an official collective memory and a shared political pan-Caribbean identity in the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, postcolonial archipelago.


Caribbean Community And Common Market (CARICOM) Critical Discourse Studies Reisigl Reparation Claims European Consortium For Political Research (ECPR) 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Culture and Society (ICS)University of NavarraPamplonaSpain

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