Performing the speculative present: blockchain memes on survival in radical Uncertainty

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


This paper analyses the performativity of the sociotechnical imaginaries that the online communities interested in blockchain applications (e.g., cryptocurrencies) construct through the memes they share, in the context of a crisis of truth and amid pervasive precarity. These memes adopt a subcultural language that is a mix of financial jargon and blockchain slang, neither building on the established codes of the regulated financial sector nor belonging fully to the colloquial nature of internet banter. Through them, the community collectively constructs ways to overcome the fundamental uncertainty that traverses all aspects of contemporary life – housing, precaritisation of labour, political ruptures, etc – by doubling down on them. Financial speculation is no longer reserved to those with disposable income but becomes a tactic for survival in a scene that actively destabilizes information for competitive market advantage. Through the use of repeated memetic subcultural phrases, blockchain memes blur the difference between fact and fiction in an effort to reconcile the extreme volatility of cryptocurrencies with the neoliberal conviction that the market is always right. As a result, no one is trustworthy, individualism takes on a new dimension, and what Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou calls a “speculative community” arises. Ultimately, this case study highlights how the iterative and distributed character of memes supercharges the normative character of performativity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022
EventPerforming Global Crises - University of Otago, New Zealand
Duration: 30 Nov 20222 Dec 2022


ConferencePerforming Global Crises
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand


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