The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest The Arab Spring and Beyond

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-09-30
  • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
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From Egypt to India, and from Botswana to London, worker, youth and middle class rebellions have taken on the political and bureaucratic status quo and the privilege of small, wealthy and often corrupt elites at a time when the majority can no longer earn a decent wage.

A remarkable feature of the protests from the Arab Spring onwards has been the salience of images, songs, videos, humour, satire and dramatic performances. This book explores the central role the aesthetic played in energising the mass mobilisations of young people, the disaffected, the middle classes, the apolitical silent majority, as well as enabling solidarities and alliances among democrats, workers, trade unions, civil rights activists and opposition parties.

Comparing the North African and Middle Eastern uprisings with protest movements such as Occupy, the authors bring to bear an anthropological and sociological approach from a variety of perspectives, illuminating the debate by drawing on a wide array of disciplinary expertise.

Case studies include

> Protests about regime change in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Russia
> Corruption in India
> The demise of the welfare state in Spain, Israel and Greece
> The living wage in Botswana and Wisconsin
> The financial crisis and corporate greed and the Occupy movement in British and American cities

Author Biography

Pnina Werbner is Professor Emerita of Social Anthropology, Keele University, and author of The Manchester Migration Trilogy, including The Migration Process: Capital, Gifts and Offerings among British Pakistanis (Berg Publishers, 1990, 2002), Imagined Diasporas among Manchester Muslims (2002) and Pilgrims of Love: the Anthropology of a Global Sufi Cult (2003). In 2008 she edited Anthropology and the New Cosmopolitanism: Rooted, Feminist and Vernacular Perspectives (Bloomsbury Academic, 2008), and is the editor of several theoretical collections on hybridity, multiculturalism, migration, and citizenship. She has researched in Britain, Pakistan, and Botswana, and has directed major research projects on the Muslim South Asian, Filipino, and African diasporas. Her forthcoming book is The Making of an African Working Class: Law, Politics and Cultural Protest (Pluto, 2014).

Martin Webb is Lecturer in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His research interests cross anthropology and development studies, with a particular focus on citizenship, transparency, accountability, and urban anti-corruption activism. He carried out his doctoral research in Delhi, India, focusing on the role of class, social connection, and the politics of urban space in the city's transparency and accountability activism scene. He has published the role of rhetoric, representation and authenticity in activism and movement politics in India (Contemporary South Asia), and on transparency activism in India (Political and Legal Anthropology Review). His most recent publication on anti-corruption activism in India is Disciplining the Everyday State and Society? Anti-corruption and Right to Information Activism in Delhi in Contributions to Indian Sociology 47(3): 363-393 (2013).

Kathryn Spellman-Poots is Associate Professor at the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations. She received her MSc and PhD in Politics and Sociology from Birkbeck College, University of London. Her areas of interest include Shia Muslims in Europe, the Iranian Diaspora, transnational migration networks, and gender and religious practices in the Middle East and North Africa. Her publications include the monograph Religion and Nation: Iranian Local and Transnational Networks in Britain (Berghahn Books, 2005) and the co-edited volume Ethnographies of Islam: Ritual Performances and Everyday Practices (Edinbugh University Press, 2012). She previously taught the sociology of religion, migration and gender at Syracuse University, London campus. She is on the Editorial Board of The Middle East in London magazine at SOAS.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

1. Introduction
Pnina Werbner, Martin Webb and Kathryn Spellman-Poots

Part I: The Arab Spring Uprisings and their Aftermath

2. Teargas, Flags, and the Harlem Shake: Images of and for Revolution in Tunisia and the Dialectics of the Local in the Global
Simon Hawkins

3. Singing the Revolt in Tahrir Square: Euphoria, Utopia and Revolution
Dalia Wahdan

4. 'I Dreamed of Being a People': Egypt's Revolution, the People, and Critical Imagination
Hanan Sabea

5. The Body of the Colonel: Caricature and Incarnation in the Libyan Revolution
Igor Cherstich

6. Poetry of Protest: Tribes in Yemen's 'Change Revolution'
Steven C. Caton, Hazim Al-Eriyani, and Rayman Aryani

Part II: Beyond the Arab Spring -- Asia and Africa

7. A Fractured Solidarity: Communitas and Structure in the Israeli 2011 Social Protest
Oren Livio and Tamar Katriel

8. 'Gandhi, Camera, Action!' Anna Hazare and the 'Media Fold' in Twenty-First Century India
Christopher Pinney

9. Short Circuits: The Aesthetics of Protest, Media and Martydom in Indian Anti- Corruption Activism
Martin Webb

10. The Mother of all Strikes: Popular Protest Culture and Vernacular Cosmopolitanism in the Botswana Public Service Unions' Strike, 2011
Pnina Werbner

Part III: Beyond the Arab Spring -- American and European Protests

11. Vernacular Culture and Grassroots Activism: Non-violent Protest and Progressive Ethos at the 2011 Wisconsin Labor Rallies
Christine Garlough

12. Occupy Wall Street: Carnival Against Capital? Carnivalesque as Protest Sensibility
Claire Tancons

13. Subversion through Performance: Performance Activism in London
Paula Serafini

14. Spain's Indignados and the Mediated Aesthetics of Nonviolence
John Postill

15. The Poetics of Indignation in Greece: Anti-Austerity Protest and Accountability
Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

About the Contributors

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