Ethno-Graphic Gatherings of Nonbinary Visual Narratives on TikTok




Costain, Raey

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This thesis is an exploration in graphic anthropology alongside a digital community of nonbinary people on the social media app, TikTok. Nonbinary visuality is a complicated and still poorly understood set of experiences largely due to a lack of thoughtful representation in both academic and non-academic circles. This work applies comic-style drawing to gather nonbinary visual narratives as they are shared digitally. In doing so, this work contributes to an understanding of what it might mean to ‘look’ nonbinary. Between September 2021-May 2022 I conducted a digital ethnography on TikTok. I applied comic drawing as my primary mode of notetaking and communicating about my experiences. I also recruited 5 nonbinary social media mutuals who each contributed 1-6 video clips to my project. Informed by these video clips and my own auto-ethnographic experiences on the app, I created a collection of comic style drawings. Selections of these drawings were shared on social media (@enbyanthro) and through an interactive documentary housed on my project website ( Throughout my work here, I consider drawing as a process of gathering - of bringing together and being together. As I gathered individual nonbinary narratives through my drawing method I connected those stories to broader dialogues about being nonbinary. The ethno-graphic gatherings discussed here are made up of both personal narratives and shared experiences, brought together through the process of drawing.



graphic anthropology, digital ethnography, social media, comics-based research, nonbinary, queer anthropology