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This book guides the reader through the many complications and contradictions that characterize popular contestation today, focusing on its socio-political, cultural, and aesthetic dimensions. The volume recognizes that the same media and creative strategies can be used to pursue very different causes, as the anti-gay marriage Manif Pour Tous movement in France makes clear. The contributors are scholars from the humanities and social sciences, who analyze protests in particular regions, including Egypt, Iran, Australia, France, Spain, Greece, and Hong Kong, and transnational protests such as the NSA-leaks and the mobilization of migrants and refugees. Not only the specificity of these protest movements is examined, but also their tendency to connect and influence each other, as well as the central, often ambiguous role global digital platforms play in this.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: Global Cultures of Contestation

Abstract
From the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East in early 2011, via the Spanish indignados and Occupy Wall Street to the Umbrella movement in Hong Kong, recent years have seen major instances of popular contestation across the world. Moving beyond positions that present a singularly celebratory or dismissive account of this global protest “wave,” we advocate approaching each protest in terms of both its specificity and its tendency, in a context of advanced globalization and digitization, to connect to, learn from, or influence protests elsewhere. Outlining the volume’s focus on mobility, sustainability, aesthetics, and connectivity in this chapter, we ask: (1) How do the protests use mobility and immobility as part of their action repertoires and what forms of mobility are implied in the spread of protest waves? (2) How are issues of sustainability addressed in the various protests, and to what extent are the protests themselves sustainable? (3) What are the aesthetics of contemporary protest movements? (4) How do connective platforms facilitate today’s protests and shape their focus and dynamics?
Esther Peeren, Robin Celikates, Jeroen de Kloet, Thomas Poell

Chapter 2. The Square and Beyond: Trajectories and Implications of the Square Occupations

Abstract
From 2010, the world has witnessed a wave of “square occupations”: from the anti-austerity protests in Southern Europe, to the Arab uprisings, to the global Occupy movement. Based on interviews with core activists in Athens, Cairo, London, and Moscow, our research in this chapter shows that the experience of mobilizing or camping in the squares has inspired people to become more active in their neighborhoods and communities in subsequent months and years. The square occupations introduced new ideas and opened new public debates about the economy, systems of governance and democracy, as well as the role of the state and citizens. However, as the movements keep coming up against unresponsive and increasingly repressive state structures, increasing clashes both with those state structures and between progressive and nativist populist movements are to be expected.
Marlies Glasius, Armine Ishkanian

Chapter 3. Weak Resistance in Semi-Peripheries: The Emergence of Non-Heroic Counterpublics

Abstract
This chapter argues that the recent protests constitute “non-heroic counterpublics,” in which the heroic European masculine self is dismantled and replaced by an everyday resistance of the weak. It explores the implications of these changes for the concept of counterpublics, developed in Western Europe to depict oppositional politics in late capitalist societies dominated by the bourgeoisie and organized as parliamentary democracies. Beginning with the “white town”—the small, tents-based site constructed by striking nurses in front of the government’s headquarters in Warsaw, Poland in 2007, via the Occupy movements, the Arab Revolutions, and the Majdan Square gatherings in Kiev, Ukraine, up to the women’s protests of 2016 across the world, we have witnessed the emergence of new politics of resistance.
Ewa Majewska

Chapter 4. Challenging the Nation-State’s Territorial Integrity through Contestation: Secessionist Rallies in Catalonia

Abstract
This chapter argues that Spain is critically challenged from within by the secessionist movement in Catalonia, which questions the state’s legitimacy and its territorial integrity. The strength of this movement highlights the importance of phenomena such as statehood, identity, and territoriality in the so-called globalization era. The secessionist movement in Catalonia is often portrayed as a top-down process led by Catalan political elites. This narrative, however, tends to ignore the importance of grassroots movements that have organized some of the biggest political demonstrations in Europe for five consecutive years (2012–2016). This paper assesses to what extent the Catalan pro-independence movement constitutes a case of “from below” mobilization and determines its impact on the institutional framework of the Catalonia-Spain relationship.
Jaume Castan Pinos

Chapter 5. A Radical Reframing of Civil Disobedience: “Illegal” Migration and Whistleblowing

Abstract
According to a widely accepted understanding of civil disobedience, it is enacted only by citizens and only in order to address an unjust law or policy of the government, but not to contest state institutions as such. However, this framework overlooks two key features of civil disobedience: that it has been practiced by people not fully included into the category of citizen and that they challenged the authority of institutions by breaching specific laws or policies. In this chapter, we make visible the political significance of these two aspects of civil disobedience by zooming in on two cases: unauthorized migration and illegal whistleblowing. These contemporary cases of contestation show that with increased globalization and digitalization, the liberal conception of civil disobedience as explained by John Rawls is problematic.
Natasha Basu, Bernardo Caycedo

Chapter 6. Biopolitical and Phenomenological Underpinnings of Embodied Contestation: Further Reflections on Creative Insurgency

Abstract
This chapter explains how the theoretical traditions of biopolitics and phenomenology, as expressed in Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, underpin a notion of embodied contestation that I develop in The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative Insurgency in the Arab World (2016). I identify two modalities of revolutionary activism, reflecting entangled modalities of contestation in which the human body takes a central place. The first, “Burning Man,” is a radical, biopolitical mode of contestation in which the human body self-consumes in violent, spectacular acts that interrupt daily routine. The second, “Laughing Cow,” is a gradual, transgressive, mode of contestation in which the human body is both material instrument and symbolic locus of micro-acts of contestation that fold into daily routine. In between are various acts in which the human body takes over public space, in a game of perception and experience best explained by the phenomenological tradition.
Marwan M. Kraidy

Chapter 7. Whose Space Is It Anyway? Practices of Protest and Strategies of Authority in Egypt

Abstract
The Egyptian revolution/uprising is a disruptive moment of politics that should not be confined to the limiting scope of institutional transformations. This chapter explores the role of space, be it physical or virtual, in relation to the body and the geography of power inasmuch as public spaces and the bodies of protesters become sites of contestation between protest tactics and strategies of oppression, producing disruptions that go beyond the normative assessment of success and failure. These opposing forces have informed one another, producing a disruption of the political order, despite the institutional outcome of the protests and the rise of a hegemonic repressive military regime in Egypt.
Walid El Houri

Chapter 8. Umbrellas and Revolutions: The Aesthetics of the Hong Kong Protests

Abstract
This chapter analyses the unfolding of the Umbrella movement in Hong Kong along the conceptual lines of identity, aesthetics, and connectivity. First, the Umbrella movement of Hong Kong may look like a typical social mobilization event, one in which a clear goal—democracy—manages to unite thousands of people. A closer look reveals, however, that it is more accurate to view the movement as semi-post-identitarian, as constantly reinventing itself during the struggle. Second, aesthetics play a crucial role in this continuous process of negotiation: both a spectacular aesthetics and an aesthetics of cleanliness and proper behavior. Following Rancière, these aesthetics are read as effecting a redistribution of the sensible. Third, drawing on Bennett and Segerberg (Information, Communication & Society 15 (5): 739–768, 2012), the chapter shows how the movement combines a logic of collective action with a logic of connective action. It concludes with an attempt to counter those who claim that this movement has failed, arguing that it can be read as exploring a politics of possibility.
Jeroen de Kloet

Chapter 9. The Internet as a Global/Local Site of Contestation: The Case of Iran

Abstract
This chapter sheds light on the role of the Internet as a site of contestation capable of connecting the local and the global dimension of a protest in countries with a virtually closed political arena. It takes Iran as an exemplary case for the study of the technology-related protest cultures that have emerged at the fringes of a heavily controlled cyberspace. We compare the widespread use of the microblogging platform Twitter and the chat application Telegram, inserting them in a broader geopolitical analysis. We understand Telegram as an emancipatory communication technology (Milan in Social Movements and Their Technologies: Wiring Social Change. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2013) and highlight its role in facilitating the exercise of a democratic agency during the 2016 Iranian Parliamentary elections. Relying on interview data and desk research, and positioned at the intersection of media, science and technology, and social movement studies, this chapter adds to our understanding of the complex relation between authoritarian regimes and their digital opposition.
Mahsa Alimardani, Stefania Milan

Chapter 10. Tactical Connecting and (Im-)Mobilizing in the French Boycott School Day Campaign and Anti-Gender Theory Movement

Abstract
Gay marriage movements have swept across much of the globe and each has had localized alliances of opposition. This chapter focuses on a splinter group from France’s anti-gay marriage movement La Manif Pour Tous (LMPT, Everyone’s Protest), the Boycott School Day Campaign, to analyze the rhetorical and technical-connective means by which this movement-imaginary cohered, became activated, and captured, in spurts, the field of political sensibility. It was organized through mobile phone databases and social media groups, where key nodes bridged otherwise disparate networks with common appeals, one of which was the “rumor bomb” claiming that the introduction of “gender theory” in primary schools included teaching children to masturbate. The chapter charts how these rumors were used to launch a niche public school boycott across France in 2014.
Jayson Harsin

Chapter 11. Disruption or Transformation? Australian Policymaking in the Face of Indigenous Contestation

Abstract
From the Zapatista’s “netwar” to the “hashtag activism” of Idle No More, Indigenous peoples have pioneered digital media for global connectivity and contestation. This chapter explores the promise and the pitfalls of social media for First Nations protest in Australia. Overall, we find new opportunities for disruption and ongoing challenges with regard to significant social and political transformation. The argument is illustrated with two exemplars. Firstly, the “Recognise” campaign is a state-sponsored public information and awareness campaign with a well-developed social media and branding strategy. Dissenting Indigenous voices have been highly successful in disrupting this campaign and asserting an alternative agenda including Treaty and Land Rights. Secondly, the #IASLottery campaign responded to the new Indigenous Advancement Strategy, with less success in impacting policy debates.
Tanja Dreher, Lisa Waller, Kerry McCallum

Chapter 12. Erehwon: A Digital Platform for Empowering Sociopolitical Interventions in Public Space

Abstract
In this chapter we introduce Erewhon, a work-in-progress practice-led research project that aims to create a digital commons space and platform for connecting and supporting communities of people who initiate sociopolitical interventions in public space. The platform consists of an interactive cartography of these types of projects, co-designed through a series of workshops with different communities of interest in a way that offers to their projects different forms of visibility. It also allows the viewer to trace, in the visualization, a project’s progress, its contaminations, size, collaborations, and duration, and its interconnections with the other projects. This chapter describes our theoretical framework, discusses our research and design methodology, and presents and reflects on the outcomes of the practical research.
Beatriz Cantinho, Mariza Dima

Backmatter

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