1. médialab Sciences Po
  2. News
  3. From Busting Cults to Breeding Cults

From Busting Cults to Breeding Cults

Gabriella Coleman will give a talk on the impact of image boards like 4chan in the spread of the social currents and movements

Event, Research Seminar


"In this interactive session, we will consider how popular and anonymous image boards like 4chan (and subsequently 8chan) became the spring board for social currents and movements--the hacktivists known as Anonymous and the Cult known as QAnon--that veered in different directions and yet are increasingly understood to belong to the same family/class of phenomenon. Along with examining the role of critical events, translators, and larger political forces in accounting for their differences, we will pay particular attention to the role of anonymity, the inherent difficulties in establishing truth, and popular journalistic accounts in meshing together aspects of these movements that should in fact be pried apart."


Gabriella (Biella) Coleman holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University. Trained as an anthropologist, her scholarship covers the politics, cultures, and ethics of hacking. She is the author of two books on computer hackers and the founder and editor of Hack_Curio, a video portal into the cultures of hacking (you can learn more about the project here). She is currently working on a book of essays about hackers and the state and will deliver material from the book for the 2021 Henry Morgan Lectures.

Her first book Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking was published in 2013 with Princeton University Press. She then published Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous (Verso, 2014), which was named to Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014 and was awarded the Diana Forsythe Prize by the American Anthropological Association