The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism

Imagine the civil rights movement without freedom songs and the politics of women’s movements without poetry. Or, more difficult yet, imagine an America unaffected by the cultural expressions and forms of the twentieth-century social movements that have shaped our nation. The first broad overview of social movements and the distinctive cultural forms that express and helped shape them, The Art of Protest shows the vital importance of these movements to American culture. In comparative accounts of movements beginning with the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and running through the Internet-driven movement for global justice (”Will the revolution be cybercast?”) of the twenty-first century, T. V. Reed enriches our understanding of protest and its cultural expression. Reed explores the street drama of the Black Panthers, the revolutionary murals of the Chicano movement, the American Indian Movement’s use of film and video, rock music and the struggles against famine and apartheid, ACT UP’s use of visual art in the campaign against AIDS, and the literature of environmental justice. Throughout, Reed employs the concept of culture in three interrelated ways: by examining social movements as sub- or countercultures; by looking at poetry, painting, music, murals, film, and fiction in and around social movements; and by considering the ways in which the cultural texts generated by resistance movements have reshaped the contours of the wider American culture. The United States is a nation that began with a protest. Through the kaleidoscopic lens of artistic and cultural expression, Reed reveals how activism continues to remake our world.


Posted in Protest, Social movements, Youth activists, Youth protests | Tagged , , ,

On Politics and Plagues. What can literature do for us?

Like many others during this time, I have turned to literature to try and gain deeper insights into the times we are living through and, in particular, the COVID-19 pandemic. I know I am not alone in reading Albert Camus’, The Plague. Early in the lockdown Stephen Downes linked to a post about it in his newsletter, OLDaily, which contained this video

The question of what can literature (in the broader context of the humanities) do for us at times like this, was discussed by Professor Sarah Churchwell, Dr Kate Kirkpatrick and Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge in an excellent online conversation ‘On Politics and Plagues’ at the end of last month. This was organised by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, as a precursor to the Being Human Festival, due to take place on November 12-22nd November.


Read  also         What Hannah Arendt can teach us about work in the time of Covid-19

Re-reading Camus’s “The Plague” in pandemic times

Posted in Camus, Coronavirus, Literature review | Tagged , ,

Of dreams and warnings: from Agamben to Žižek and beyond

When the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben first intervened in the public debate surrounding the looming COVID-19 pandemic in late February, his very brief comments prompted an explosion of criticism.

Relying on the information that was made public by Italy’s National Research Council, which significantly downplayed the health and social risks posed by COVID-19 at the time, he wondered: “Why do the media and the authorities do their utmost to spread a state of panic, thus provoking an authentic state of exception with serious limitations on movement and a suspension of daily life in entire regions?”


Read also      Giorgio Agamben – Biosecurity and Politics


Posted in Authoritarianism, Coronavirus, Policy making | Tagged , ,

Our Grim Future: Restored Neoliberalism or Hybrid Neofascism?

With the specter of a New Great Depression hovering over most of the planet, realpolitik perspectives for a radical change of the political economy framework we live in are not exactly encouraging.

Western ruling elites will be deploying myriad tactics to perpetuate the passivity of populations barely emerging from de facto house arrest, including a massive disciplinary – in a Foucault sense – drive by states and business/finance circles.


Posted in Capitalism, Fascism, Futures, Neoliberalism | Tagged , , ,

Rethinking the Link Between Structure and Collective Action. Capitalism, Politics, and the Theory of Social Movements

Social movement scholars have rarely paid attention to the transformations of capitalism as factors of social movement formation processes. This paper makes two different but complementary contributions. First, we provide a macro-social theory that connects the emergence of social movements to the capital circuit in order to embed social movement formation processes into the structural dynamics of capitalism. Exploring such dynamics is helpful to the understanding of social movements if one only looks at them by highlighting their socio-political—and not only merely economic—nature. Secondly, we show how and to what extent some institutional transformations involving the politics of advanced capitalist societies have been affected by the capital circuit and vice versa. More notably, we argue that these transformations have given rise to a political field centered on the ambivalence between two poles, namely, a regressive-oligarchic and a participative-mobilizing one, which is the domain of populist politics today.


Posted in Collective action, Social movements | Tagged ,

The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence

The December, 2019 coronavirus disease outbreak has seen many countries ask people who have potentially come into contact with the infection to isolate themselves at home or in a dedicated quarantine facility. Decisions on how to apply quarantine should be based on the best available evidence. We did a Review of the psychological impact of quarantine using three electronic databases. Of 3166 papers found, 24 are included in this Review. Most reviewed studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors included longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma. Some researchers have suggested long-lasting effects. In situations where quarantine is deemed necessary, officials should quarantine individuals for no longer than required, provide clear rationale for quarantine and information about protocols, and ensure sufficient supplies are provided. Appeals to altruism by reminding the public about the benefits of quarantine to wider society can be favourable.


Posted in Coronavirus, Psychology | Tagged ,

The Rhizomatics of Domination: From Darwin to Biotechnology

In a time where global warming, pantoxicity, pesticide pollution, resource scarcity, and a whole host of environmental problems regularly appear in news headlines, the perennial question about what the relationship between humans and nature is and should be, is more pressing than ever. While it may seem trite to focus on questions of narrative, representation, agency, and subjectivity in the face of more “pressing” material concerns, the environmental crisis is more than a problem for scientists; it is a problem of narrative, ontology, and epistemology. It is as much a failure of imagination as it is a technological problem, arising from maladapted social and political ecologies that fail to establish healthy and sustainable networks of kinship imaginaries [1] that are capable of addressing the competing needs and desires of multiple actors within the biocultural networks humanity always inhabits. Kinship imaginaries are the foundation of how we relate to others, and thus are the ground upon which (bio)politics are based. They are the basis of how we imagine ourselves to be connected to the world around us, and the myriad organisms that populate this increasingly shrinking and sullied world.


Posted in Domination, Rhizomes | Tagged ,

A pandemic of boredom

It was just the two of them: on a raft, lost, floating off the coast of Africa—the lone survivors of a shipwreck. Years before, struck with stupendous boredom, Hymie Basteshaw decided to become boredom’s master. He read what others wrote about boredom, studied its physiology, and discovered its secrets in the wavering folds of human cells. Mid-sea, he now shares with Augie March his first and “obvious” findings. Boredom is “the shriek of unused capacities, the doom of serving no great end or design, of contributing to no master force. The obedience that is not willingly given because nobody knows how to request it. The harmony that is not accomplished.” Basteshaw is but a minor character—a psycho-biologist, a carpenter, a genius, a “maniac”—in Saul Bellow’s long picaresque novel, The Adventures of Augie March. He offers not a minor or obvious feature of boredom, but a discerning appraisal of its intimate nature. Boredom, Basteshaw tells March, although not in these exact words, is hybrid, both personal and social.


Read also

The Boredom Pandemic


Posted in Coronavirus | Tagged

Pandemic practicalities and how to help teenagers manage time at home

IIt’s May and many of us have fond memories of springtime when we were in high school. There was some stress from exams and final papers to be sure, but also more outdoor activities, sports, banquets or awards assemblies, proms, and most of all, looking forward to the summer. High school students today, however, have lost all of that. Seemingly in an instant, they are confined at home, with little access to friends, no organized sports, arts, music, journalism, or other activities. Education via teleconferencing is of variable quality and is no substitute for the interactive learning with other students and a skilled educator. Most of all, our students face an uncertain future. It is especially difficult for teens to foresee or plan for a future with the current disruption. Adolescents may well not be able to deal with these multiple concerns, so it’s predictable and understandable that many high school students are struggling with anxiety and depressed mood. Even before the pandemic adolescents had high rates of clinical anxiety and depression. We are facing an enormous mental health crisis.


Posted in Coronavirus, Teenagers | Tagged ,

The fruits of social anger

To those who say anger is destructive or pointless: Not so! Getting angry spurs and sustains us to take action for justice

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
– Greta Thunberg, 23 September 2019, New York


Posted in Anger, Social action, Social justice | Tagged , ,