Author Archives: contentiousimages

CfP on Soccer’s Defining Historical Moments

An call for papers for a special edition of Soccer and Society on the history of soccer, focusing on defining events has been put out. 500 word Abstracts are due March 15. Here are some details that come of H-Net: As the most popular mass spectator sport across the world, soccer generates key moments of […]

via CfP: Moments, Metaphors, Memories: Defining Events in the History of Soccer — Bread and Circuses

Advertisements

CfP Disobedient Democracy

There is a great project happening in Zagreb with the title Disobedient Democracy. In their words, it is “a comparative research project exploring how protest politics advances democracy.” In June 2018 they will host a one day workshop on “biographical and transformative aspects of activism” The submission deadline (500 word abstract, 200 word bio) is April 30, 2018.

See the full call here: https://disdem.org/bulletin-board-article/10/

Our Common Statement on Recent Attacks Against Critical Thought

We find deeply disturbing the recent success of right-wing groups and individuals to impose themselves on university campuses across the United States, and to silence critical voices as they amplify their own. The suspension of George Ciccariello-Maher by Drexel University, along with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor cancelling her own speaking event, Mark Trahant’s resignation, Third World Quarterly publishing a text suggesting a positive view of colonialism and arguing for a partial recolonization of former colonies, and the attacks against Dr. Farhana Sultana for her vocal criticism of the text and its publication, are part of a successful attack of the far right on critical thought and exchange. These are of course just a few recent, high-profile examples of such attacks on the academy in North America. The repeated justification—in the name of free speech—of hosting white supremacist Alt-Right speakers and groups on campuses by university administrators is also disappointing. This creates an environment where racist, homophobic, and sexist-chauvinist speech is given equal status to all other speech, even as it advocates for the reversal of hard-fought social gains by historically oppressed groups.

Due to the complicit silence of most academic and non-academic institutions—within the US  and beyond—we recognize a need to express our discontent/discomfort with recent developments and voice our solidarity with those silenced and marginalized by it. In such an environment, the university can hardly be considered a safe space anymore. We acknowledge that this assault appears shocking and outrageous to us in part because of our privilege as white academics in West European and North American institutions. University colleagues and activists around the world that challenge oppressive domestic regimes, western neo-liberal reform packages, and neo-colonialism have often faced terrible persecution. But it is also true that such oppressive conditions have long existed within our own academic and social circles for People of Color, people living with disabilities, as well as other marginalized groups. In other words, the recent attack on radical and alternative voices within our institutions brings to light what has long been true for many.

We want a university to be a space where all students, staff, and professors feel safe. This environment should promote thought that challenges inequality in the societies we live in, the conditions and power regimes that create them. Therefore we state unequivocally that we stand with those being targeted by online trolls, and right-wing groups and organizations of all kinds, and demand our institutions stop accommodating hate groups while silencing progressive voices.

In Solidarity!

Knowledge Cultures

We are super pleased to have our first collaborative, academic publication out this week. It features in the journal Knowledge Cultures, in a special edition from the 2016 Audio Visual Pedagogies Conference in Zagreb. Here is the abstract and a link:

https://www.addletonacademicpublishers.com/contents-kc/1218-volume-5-5-2017/3183-visual-dimensions-of-protest-three-examples-from-the-balkans

This paper proposes a framework for understanding the visual cultures of protest beyond representative images. Through a performative reading the visual takes on a dynamic role, ultimately producing a variation of the reality that protesters are demanding. Through three examples from Slovenia, Greece and Serbia, the paper examines different dimensions of visual culture of protest. In Ljubljana the how and why of a protest of fans against their own club is examined. In Athens, we look at why activists insist on traditional poster making methods in the digital era, and how these posters then function in the city neighbourhood of Exarcheia. In Belgrade, we look at the uses of video production and distribution by feminist activists Women in Black (Žene u Crnom). Atmosphere, political posters and video activism from the three examples, through which we argue visuals connect the locally specific struggles to a global context, and creating a socially oriented, richer picture of the region without getting entangled in nationalist narratives. Each case also elaborates how and why protest was visualized adapting cultural signifiers and established protest forms to produce the performative reality they are seeking.

Unfortunately, it is behind a pay wall, but if you are interested in reading it, get in touch.

Soccer GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

#SaveTheCrew

We are re-blogging a short overview of the protest of football fans in Columbus fighting to keep their club in the city, written by DOC-team member David Brown.

In the last week, fans of Columbus Crew started a protest to save their club. There is nothing actually wrong with the team, in fact they had a great season so far. They are in the play-offs after a winning run. The problem is that the owner, Anthony Precourt, wants a new stadium in the […]

via #SaveTheCrew — Bread and Circuses

A Brief Conference Review

On the 18 and 19 of May, 2017, the University of Manchester hosted the interdisciplinary conference Everyday Revolutions in Southern and Eastern Europe. We took the opportunity to organize a panel on visual protest repertoires and present our research project, the first occasion in two years to present together. Due to a general strike in Greece, responding to a fresh round of austerity, not all of us were ultimately able to attend, however. Here we’ll say a few words about the conference and quickly summarize our main contributions. While there is also a lot to reflect on in regards to the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena on the night of the 21st shortly after the conference ended, we will not do so here. Needless to say, the death of concert attendees is a terrible loss for the families affected, and to the vibrant and diverse community of Manchester.

The conference brought together many PhD, post-Doc, and academics at other stages in their careers to present and debate research around the concept of Everyday Revolutions. The organizers write: “Moving beyond questions of radical transformation and irreversible political change, the concept of ‘everyday revolutions’ problematizes the overlooked revolutionary potential of small-scale resistance, grassroots mobilisation, counter-culture, liberation movements, and alternative provisioning, among others.” The Keynote was delivered by Prof. Davina Cooper. With the title ‘What good is playing at being a state?’, she explored the various meanings, manifestations and critiques of the state, and its impact on daily life.

With this frame, we chose to each present our individual work within the wider project of “Contentious Images, Unruly Practices.” We did not spend any of our limited time on the general framework, save a brief introduction given by Julia at the top of the panel. While the picture was incomplete due to Angelos’ absence, and the “work in progress” point we are at, the panel was ideal also for our own reflection upon the interconnections in our works.

In her contribution, Julia traced the evolution of her research project on street art in Athens Aesthetics of Crisis from a rather static social movement studies framework towards one more attuned to the contingencies of everyday life. Following Lauren Berlant’s understanding of the crisis as “an emergency in the reproduction of life, a transition that has not found its genres for moving on,”[1] she offered a critical feminist framework for understanding the current proliferation of street art in Athens as a meaningful intervention into the current political configuration. She described how the walls of the city have come to function as a living archive of the current historical conjuncture and a site for imagining new political potentials and encounters. Considering street art not merely as visual artifacts but also as performative practice, Julia argued that street art is not a static representation of its given socio-cultural context but also has the potential to actively transform urban space and reimagine everyday life by inscribing alternative histories and possibilities into the very surface of the city.

The focus of her analysis was with figurative artworks, expressive portrayals of the corporeal and affective impact of crisis and austerity of everyday life. By making visible the shared affective condition of the crisis, one marked by precaritization and uncertainty, street artists claim the walls of the city as a space for emotionally processing the continuous state of exception. The task of dealing with this deeply felt precarity is typically relegated to the privacy of the domestic sphere, as demanded by what anthropologist Athena Athanasiou calls the truth regime of crisis and austerity: “not only do people have to engage in a daily struggle against economic hardship and humiliation, but they are also called upon to bear all this without any sign of outrage or dissent.”[2] By visualizing this collective vulnerability of the everyday in public space, works of street art may eventually become meaningful as a basis and resource for political solidarity and community formation.

Next, Marija explored the multifaceted phenomena of video activism and how it is adopted and used by the feminist antimilitarist women´s organisation Women in Black (Žene u crnom) in Serbia. More than ever the vast amount of circulating digital videos and the influence they have today, both on our everyday life but also in protest settings, calls for examining conceptualisation, production, and use of digital videos in their local context. She proposed exploring video activism of WiB through a peformative lens as an act of visual writing of women´s history and their struggles and video as a visual artefact for documentation, representation and research of this history.

Special focus was on videos that were produced to promote a feminist model of transitional justice. This model is presented through the concept of Women´s Court, a unique model in the region of Ex-Yugoslavia, developed to offer a different safe space for all women (witnesses, activist and academics) for their voices to be heard. The aim of the first videos made by WiB´s video activist group in 2010 was to make visible the effects of various models of transitional justice, especially of the feminist approach to justice to the broader public, and to facilitate a change of values, ideas of peace, justice and solidarity (Women in Black, 2011). Today there are 17 videos produced around the topic of Women´s Court for internal and external audiences, which were made to document and represent the project: it´s development, implementation and discussions around it. The effectiveness of these videos is directly linked to their performative character. They should not be seen only as representation; rather, they can also have their own life, potential and power to create possible worlds.[3] Under certain circumstances they can produce countervisuality[4], new political subjectivities[5], articulate opposition or resistance and thus renegotiate or even reverse power relations. Moving images produced by WiB are not just presenting a new model of justice but are also showing internal (activists) gazes and powerful political images of women: attendant in the past and present historical political events, diverse, united, active, images which are challenging dominant patriarchal and nationalistic public discourses and have a great potential for the production of new political subjectivites.

David took the occasion to work out the central concept of “general atmosphere”[6] in his work. The atmosphere is composed of various elements, from bodies and sounds, to movement, clothing, and materials such as banners, stickers, and flares. But it is also context. The atmosphere is thus not just an aesthetic concept, but should be regarded as inviting also the analysis of the temporal and special moment in which it is being created. Deeply visual, atmosphere communicates the subject of the protest, along with its object and demand. When fans create atmosphere in a stadium, they are doing something similar, and when they protest, as in the case of Olimpija Ljubljana fans over the course of 2013-2014, they deploy the same visual repertoires.

In football, this atmosphere is a key dimension of the game. Matches are radically transformed without active supporters in the stadium. This in turn informs fan protest strategies, such as using the boycott, but it also is the core of free labor for the industry of football. Where fans generate exciting and colorful atmosphere, they are subject to a double exploitation: paying entrance fees and delivering a performance that the industry is able to use for promotion of its product (of which the fan is part – and this is in addition to their operating costs). In the field of fan labor this is an established part of the analysis. [7] But it has rarely been considered in the context of sport fans.[8] While the fan protest is generally not a radical rupture, and in the case of the Green Dragons is reformist in nature, looking at fan labor, the use of boycott as a tool, in conjuncture with notions of how capitalism is able to financialize affect, it becomes an opportunity to better understand forms of everyday exploitation. As a result, we are also better able to identify the dynamic between these forms of appropriation and those who resist and seek alternative social and economic relations.

***

References:

[1] Lauren Berlant, “Austerity, Precarity, Awkwardness,” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Montreal, 2011, https://supervalentthought.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/berlant-aaa-2011final.pdf.

[2] Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou, Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (Cambridge: John Wiley & Sons, 2013), 149.

[3] Lazzarato, M (2003) Struggle, Event, Media. Republicart 5.

[4] Mirzoeff, N (2011) The right to look: A counterhistory of visuality. Durham: Duke University Press.

[5] Razsa, M J (2014) Beyond ‘Riot Porn’: Protest Video and the Production of Unruly Subjects. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 79 (4): 496–524.

[6] van Leeuwen, A, van Stekelenburg, J, and Klandermans, B. (2016). The phenomenology of protest atmosphere: A demonstrator Perspective. In European Journal of Social Psychology. 46(1), 44–62. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2139

[7] Stanfill, Mel and Megan Condis, eds. 2014. Fandom and/as Labor in Transformative Works and Cultures 15. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2014.0593

[8] Tarver, Erin. 2017. The I in Team: Sports Fandom and the Reproduction of Identity. Chicago:University of Chicago Press.

Knowledge – Cultures

We were thrilled to get confirmation a day ago that our team will have its first common and scientific publication in the journal Knowledge – Cultures. Slated to be included in the journal later this year, the article is based on our presentation at last year’s AVPC 2016:  Visual Pedagogies and Digital Cultures conference in Zagreb, Croatia. See this post for more on the conference. The article was collaboratively written by Marija, Angelos, and David.

The article takes the title “Visual Dimension of Protest: three examples from the Balkans” and sketches out a framework that we are all working within. Our central focus here was to operationalize the term Visual Protest Repertoires (VPR), building on social movement theory (specifically Tilly’s repertoires of contention), visual culture, and performativity.

The article then presents the three cases that are the core of our individual research within the Contentious Images project: Women in Black, political posters, and football fan protests. We felt it was important to bring as much “practical” examples to the paper as we are still defining our theoretical frames, exploring the edges of VPR, and conducting our research. In this way, the paper very much represents a mid-way point in the research, and an initial articulation of our concept and fields.

Focusing on the practice, on the tangiable dimensions that we have thus far recorded and considered makes a “work in progress” paper useful and accessible to readers. Reflecting on our data, field notes and work thus far begins (we hope) a process of discussion with a scientific community about/around our work. Finally, it was also useful as a way for us to take advantage of our support structure through comments from various mentors, particularly Marion Hamm – who also worked out the term VPR together with us.

Everyday Revolutions

We are off to Manchester… in May! The conference is Everyday Revolutions in Southern and Eastern Europe, supported by the University of Manchester, and happily, our proposed panel was accepted. We submitted a panel on visual repertoires of social movements and struggles in Southeast Europe. The papers will largely correspond to the research themes of the contentious images team: football fan protests, radical left political posters, politicized street art, and feminist video activism.

Keep in mind we are still developing our panel and our individual papers, but broadly speaking we aim to examine how the visual is being deployed in movements, and also how scholarship is developing as a result. We are particularly interested in looking at the visual as both a culturally embedded practice, but that also break past local particularities, and a dynamic part of any protest or act of protest in its own right. This last point is particularly intriguing as it has yet to be significantly included in social movement research. We would like to see how visuals become an interactive, performative element of the protests, both in the moment as materialization of alternatives, and also in interacting with representation.

We are looking forward to this opportunity to develop our collaborative work, get some feedback, and all be in the same place for the first time since 2014(!).

See you there.

Call for Papers for the PhD Workshop

Focus: The theme of the Workshop follows that of the conference: (Un)Making Europe: Capitalism, Solidarities, Subjectivities.
The primary focus of the workshop will be on the preparation of an article for publication, but the workshop will also include a session on public facing scholarship and media literacy (preparation for public discussions, communication via media platforms and attractive self presentation), as well as address career development and provide peer mentoring and networking opportunities with other European doctoral students.
Number of places: We will select 20 PhD students for the course.
Funding will be provided for 3 nights’ accommodation (26-29 August) and meals in Athens. Up to Euro 300 will be available to each student towards their travel costs
Eligibility: Students registered for a PhD in sociology or allied discipline in a European
University. Students must be an ESA member or become an ESA member before the
Selection: Participants will be selected following a peer-review process and on the basis of scientific excellence of their proposed paper, but a fair balance between different regions of Europe and areas of sociology will also be considered.
Guidelines for applications: Complete the application form (see link here) with a short CV and submit them together with your abstract by February 1st 2017 via: www.esa13thconference.eu
If you are selected: You will be required to submit a manuscript of a full paper (about 7,000 words) by 15 June and media session assignment by 1st August to the workshop organisers. This is essential in order to make sure that participants get the most of this workshop; papers will be circulated in advance and allocated to peer discussants. We kindly ask you to apply only if you accept these terms of conditions and are prepared to follow the guidelines and deadlines.
Workshop teachers are members of ESA steering committee: Airi-Alina Allaste (director of summers school, Estonia), Helena Serra (Portugal); Monica Massari (Italy); Ruth McDonald (UK); Lena Näre (Finland), Eleni Nina-Pazarzi (Greece) and media session facilitator is Katrin Tiidenberg (Denmark/Estonia)

Everyday Revolutions in Southern and Eastern Europe

Cfp we are applying to. Might be of some interest to others:

The University of Manchester and Whitworth Art Gallery (2015 Museum of the Year), Manchester

Dates: May 19 and 20, 2017

To mark the centenary of the 1917 Revolution we are holding an interdisciplinary conference on the theme of Everyday Revolutions in Southern and Eastern Europe. Rather than treating revolution as a one off or irreversible political change, the event will investigate the revolutionary potential of often-overlooked mobilisations, movements, acts, actions, and practices.  Moving beyond ideas of popular protest and social movement activism, it will focus on phenomena which could be dubbed ‘everyday revolutions’, including but not limited to:

  • ‘slow protest’
  • small-scale resistance
  • counter-culture
  • liberation movements
  • individual acts and actions.

The regional focus on Southern and Eastern Europe will highlight areas on the periphery of the European project which face many of the same challenges. The conference will shed new light on the responses to these challenges. This perspective on social, economic, political, and cultural problems will allow better understanding of everyday ways of coping with, and reacting against, new political-economic situations on the ‘edges of Europe’, both inside and outside the EU. It will help reflect not just on the areas in question, but more broadly on contemporary meanings of Europe and its borders.

We welcome contributions from across disciplines relating to any area of ‘everyday revolutions’.  Examples might include responses to austerity, civil society and NGOs, informal organisations and collectives, parallel organisations (including currencies), trans-border activist co-operations, artivism, digital and sexual revolutions, and post-capitalism.

Proposals are encouraged for conventional papers/panels but also interactive workshops (musical, visual and other), workshops open to the public, workshops for children, films, slide-shows and other visual installations.

As the event will be held at the Whitworth Art Gallery, proposals are especially welcomed for talks or workshops which engage with particular pieces – fine art, sculptures, textiles, wallpapers, etc. – from the Whitworth’s collection (which can be consulted here:http://gallerysearch.ds.man.ac.uk ).

The deadline for applications is 16.12.2016. Please send toeverydayrevolutions@manchester.ac.uk proposals including:

Name & affiliation (if any)

Title of contribution

Type of contribution (paper, film, workshop, workshop for children, etc.)

Abstract (max. 350 words), including explanation of your contribution’s relevance for the topic.

Proposals for panels of 3-4 papers or jointly led workshops are also welcome.