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A remarkable feature of the Arab Spring and other protests that followed in Egypt, India, Botswana and the UK, among other places, 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.

Table of Contents

  • Timeline;
  • Preface;
  • Introduction, Pnina Werbner, Martin Webb and Kathryn Spellman-Poots;
  • Part I: The Arab Spring: Uprisings and Their Aftermath;
    Teargas, Flags, and the Harlem Shake: Images of and for Revolution in Tunisia and the Dialectics of the Local in the Global, Simon Hawkins;
    Singing the Revolt in Tahrir Square: Euphoria, Utopia and Revolution, Dalia Wahdan;
    ‘I Dreamed of Being a People’: Egypt's Revolution, the People, and Critical Imagination, Hanan Sabea;
    The Body of the Colonel: Caricature and Incarnation in the Libyan Revolution, Igor Cherstich;
    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;
    A Fractured Solidarity: Communitas and Structure in the Israeli 2011 Social Protest, Oren Livio and Tamar Katriel;
    ‘Gandhi, Camera, Action!’ Anna Hazare and the 'Media Fold' in Twenty-First Century India, Christopher Pinney;
    Short Circuits: The Aesthetics of Protest, Media and Martydom in Indian Anti- Corruption Activism, Martin Webb;
    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;
    Vernacular Culture and Grassroots Activism: Non-violent Protest and Progressive Ethos at the 2011 Wisconsin Labor Rallies, Christine Garlough;
    Occupy Wall Street: Carnival Against Capital? Carnivalesque as Protest Sensibility, Claire Tancons;
    Subversion through Performance: Performance Activism in London, Paula Serafini;
    Spain's Indignados and the Mediated Aesthetics of Nonviolence, John Postill;
    The Poetics of Indignation in Greece: Anti-Austerity Protest and Accountability, Dimitrios Theodossopoulos;
  • About the Contributors.

Publication Information

Aga Khan University-ISMC; Edinburgh University Press, 2014



The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest : the Arab Spring and Beyond