CfP: Special issue on “The Aesthetics of Protest Movements: The Politics and Culture of Discontent”

2021-06-12

Protesters worldwide employ aesthetics, objects, and emotions to achieve their various ends. The aesthetic elements of protest movements are used to mobilize onlookers’ imaginations as a major force for re-envisioning the past and present. The cultures of protest are diverse and multi-layered. They arise from the interaction of underlying social, political, and cultural factors. While the political and social dimensions of protest movements have received consistent attention from academia, the aesthetic dimension of protest is as yet largely unexplored. This special issue of Acta Universitatis Carolinae – Studia Territorialia aims to deconstruct the aesthetic imagery employed by the political and civic actors involved in protests prior to, during, and after their protests. We do not refer to something as “aesthetic” in the sense of necessarily “beautiful,” “tasteful” or “formal,” because there are other aesthetic values such as “sublime,” “ugly,” “interesting,” and “humorous.” An appeal to these and other values can also fuel emotions and mobilization for political ends. In this special issue, aesthetics is in essence the sensitive and imaginative aspect of the effort to change social and political reality.

This special issue also seeks to explore the visual, performative, and conceptual dimensions of protest actions by focusing on their form, content, and effects as well as on their impact as an aesthetic experience. “Experiencing” in this context does not exclusively mean perceiving through the senses. It also means grasping and engaging with an idea, and the way an idea is materialized through cultural expressions like protest songs, banners, dance, and so on. An aesthetic experience moves us emotionally. What emotions are most effective for achieving the ends of a protest? How are those emotions evoked or manipulated by the aesthetics of a protest? When is humor political? Can beauty and ugliness be used to achieve political ends? Is art an important or appealing ingredient of political communication? To what extent do artivist spaces enlarge the cultural and political spheres? And, finally, does the aesthetics employed by protesters matter to their ultimate success?

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • artivism and the art of protest
  • the choreography and staging of protests
  • the performative dimension of protests
  • the symbolism used in protest
  • humor, graffiti, the carnivalesque
  • the aesthetics of violence
  • photojournalism, visual communication and media reporting of protests
  • protest memes, hashtags and the new media
  • online and offline archives of visual media documenting protests
  • political emotions, witness accounts, and participatory cultures
  • protest strategies, counter-strategies, and government responses
  • “color revolutions,” regime change, and the technology of protests
  • the geopolitics of protests and protest movements in America, Europe and Eurasia

Articles should be in English and should ideally be 6,000 to 9,000 words long (excluding footnotes and abstract). Submissions should be sent to the editorial team at stuter@fsv.cuni.cz or uploaded via the journal management system. Authors should consult the submission guidelines  for further instructions and style. All contributions will be subject to double-blind peer review.

Abstract submission deadline: August 31, 2021. 
Notification of status and next steps: September 15, 2021. 
Article submission deadline: October 31, 2021.

Please feel free to direct all inquiries to the editors at stuter@fsv.cuni.cz.