Tag Archives: Contentious Images

A Protest in Brooklyn

I ran into a protest in Brooklyn in November. On my way somewhere else, I heard a commotion down a small neighborhood street. I could see police and a sectioned off area, people holding signs. Fortunately, I had my camera; unfortunately I had an almost empty battery and no back up (lesson learned).

The protest was on the issue of homeless housing in area. The protest demanded a stop to “warehousing” homeless people in hotels, which is not a long term solution, nor a cost-effective one. They argued that hotels were being built in their neighborhoods that had no tourism, but were going to look to take advantage of City money for housing the homeless, effectively becoming for-profit homeless shelters. But there was also a very conservative vein to this protest, when the protest demanded the abolition of the New York City law that mandates the City house any homeless person seeking assistance. The fear was that this encouraged the homeless to take advantage of local tax-payers, something explicitly mentioned in the video. A discourse that echoes what we often hear in discussions on immigration.

These seem to offer contradictory positions, with wanting to help the homeless with long term solutions, using available and vacant houses, and wanting to end the City’s commitment to help for fear of outsiders taking advantage of this. The question of gentrification is also present. On the one side people are fearful of getting priced out homes through particular forms of development. On the other side the (conflicted) attitude towards the homeless and the resources they require suggests that people also want to preserve their neighborhood’s appearance, protecting it from potential “degradation” by accommodating welfare cases and institutions. They appear to want to keep the neighborhood as it is, for the middle (or working) class.

The protest also offered a series of creative visuals both expounding on what people thought was the issue, and in some cases with a degree of humor. These signs also connected to wider social concerns in the US. The “stop the war on the middle-class”, for example, was widely used in recent elections by almost all candidates, and reflects the importance of the middle class in liberal capitalism, where it is seen as source of stability, while also undermining broader worker solidarity. As such, it is a conservative discourse, and suggests that some protesters saw this protest as being (also) about their standard of living. Another sign, however, suggested this was an attack on the working class.

Others expressed resentment by attacking the politicians themselves (“the dope of Parkslope” was sung repetitively and also on some signs). The diversity of opinions and at times contradictory messages was however secondary to the appearance of unity, with a clear, vocal presence focused on the single question of opposing the “warehousing” of the homeless.

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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.

May First Demonstration

May 1st in Graz was marked by various left wing political parties, such as the Social democrats (SPÖ) and the Communist Party (KPÖ), and leftist groups and unions. While the SPÖ chose to gather for a static celebration in the city center (mit bier und würstl, as one comrade described it), the KPÖ and various unions and activist groups staged a march through city. The weather was a disaster, but non-the-less the turnout was good.

Our first protest video (as a DOC-team) captures some of the sights, color, and sounds of the demonstrations and actions from the day. For a bit of history on the origins of May Day, take a watch of Peter Linebaugh’s interview on Democracy Now.