Workshop: “Activism, Performance, and Carnival: political narratives meet YouTube Culture”
with PhD Simone do Vale, Rio de Janeiro
Info about event
This research aims at exploring activist video narratives featuring performative tactics. As an unfolding of the groundbreaking events occurred during the WTO summit in Seattle, 1999, reclaiming the public space for collective, citizen action has elicited an expanded repertoire of performance practices. Expressing claims for political, cultural, economical, and social transformations, these tactics have been noticeably transformed into compelling video narratives largely shared across social media platforms. Conceived by drama theorists as a political approach to theater, performances are immediately related to space and territory in a political discursive sense: by blurring the separation between stage and audience, it also suspends traditional discursive hierarchies – just as Carnival in Mikhail Bakhtin’s terms. Therefore, particularly since the “Battle of Seattle”, a wide variation of festive performance practices strongly connected both to pop culture and cyber culture has rapidly disseminated among activists in global scale, ranging from the Zapatista electronic sit-ins (Floodnet) to sheer carnivalization, as the sea turtle parades in Seattle and Reclaim the Streets (RTS) outdoor celebrations to protest against eviction in London. These performances, though, must not be dismissed as isolated events - they are paramount to contemporary social movement narratives moreover because they can easily express a sense of victory over disproportionately powerful forces. Recent examples are the videos showing protesters from assorted causes in England, the United States, Turkey, and Brazil evoking the “Darth Vader Imperial March” to mock Riot Police between 2010 and 2013; the environmentalists dressed as polar bears at the Flood Wall Street demonstrations in 2014, and the impressive hologram march held in Madrid against the “gag law” (Ley Mordaza). Finally, in order to address these new political actors who produce new, creative political narratives meant both for the streets and the computer screen, the proposed analysis is supported by a hybrid methodology combining a Media Studies framework to Big Data visualization tools specially designed for the exploration of videos networks displayed at the YouTube platform.