Audience Engagement on Twitter: The Rijneveld Translation Controversy

University essay from Malmö universitet/Institutionen för konst, kultur och kommunikation (K3)

Abstract: Much research exists on cancel culture and cultural gatekeeping. However, there is little research on more recent examples of cancel culture stemming from the Netherlands. The current study sought to examine how active Twitter users have responded to what I have titled, the Rijneveld translation controversy on Twitter. This controversy involves questions of racism or reverse racism after a Dutch White translator, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, reversed their decision to translate works of the African-American writer, Amanda Gorman after receiving much backlash from the public. This was followed by debates on Twitter causing an uproar. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine the different issue- frames tweeted about by active Twitter users through a qualitative content analysis. In order to inquire into the opinions addressed at various stages of the controversy, tweets were collected over the course of three different time periods. A general observation was that a majority of Twitter users were upset by the pushback Rijneveld received and even regarded the situation as an example of “reverse racism” and radical wokeism. Moreover, several different actors/stakeholders were targeted or “called-out” by the “Twitter mob,” including the Dutch journalist, Janice Deul who led part of the pushback against Rijneveld. These issues are substantially less about the art and craft of translation and reflect a broader societal issue that Twitter users felt a need to address through this controversy.

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