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Translocal Networks II: Contested Spaces and Climate Justice on Social Media

Principal Investigator:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Jan 01, 2018 — Dec 31, 2025


DFG-Funded Research Project “Translocal Networks II: Contested Spaces and Climate Justice on Social Media” at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies

During the first funding period (2018-2021), our project investigated the spatial arrangements of public spheres, focusing on Twitter communication in the cities of Berlin and Jerusalem. Results revealed that actual places remain critically important in digital communication and are regularly integrated into novel, translocal arrangements of public communication. Thus, we were able to empirically characterize translocality as a central feature of refiguration, especially apparent in situations of spatial contestation where conflictual meanings of places are negotiated.

Expanding on these foci in the second funding period (2022-2025), we will investigate discourses on conflicts around space and natural resources to show how they are negotiated in social media communication. Our aim is to map out communication in contested spaces by conducting four case studies, each representing a locally rooted spatial conflict which simultaneously links to the global issue of climate justice. The cases vary with regard to actor constellations and power relations, and are located in four different countries, each carrying varying political and social relevance in relation to climate change. We will study social media discourses on protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL) in the United States; movement action against deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest; protests against forest destruction for coal mining in Germany; and protests against the construction of Israel’s largest private natural gas power plant, which is located in close proximity to both Israeli and Palestinian cities.

On the level of (1) interaction networks, we ask how different communities are involved in climate justice discourses, and how they are rooted in space and locality. With regard to (2) issue spaces, we ask how actors connect local conflicts to similar issues in other places: which places are named and made relevant in the discourse, and how are they connected to translocal meta-narratives of climate justice and environmentalism? Finally, we also investigate the (3) spatial imaginations that social media users share in their textual and visual communication, examining how these are related to conflicting spatial figures and mobilized through political action.

For each case, we plan to collect data from the social media platform on which the respective public discourse is most salient (Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram). The project combines network analyses, automated content analyses, image analyses, mapping, and qualitative, interpretative methods.

Click here to get more information about the project.



  • Waldherr, Annie; Stoltenberg, Daniela; Maier, Daniel; Pfetsch, Barbara (2017): "Translokalisierung von Öffentlichkeiten in einer digitalisierten Welt: Ein Theoriebeitrag". Jahrestagung der DGPuK-Fachgruppe Digitale Kommunikation, Hochschule Macromedia, Stuttgart, Deutschland, 09.11.2017.


  • digital public sphere, social networks, network analysis, sociology of space