Vol. 4 No. 2 (2019): Protest

Throughout the twentieth century, political and social protests have become one of the most widespread forms of political contention and collective social action and are to an ever greater extent shaping the contours of public debate since the beginning of the new millennium. Unsurprisingly, within the present milieu of crumbling social consensus, growing political polarization and legitimacy crisis of key institutions of modern state, various forms of political and social protests are on the rise. Visual capabilities of new communication technologies have not only significantly changed the nature and extent of documentation and challenged the institutionalized mediation and communication, but also contributed to codification, even standardization of the visual representations of protests. Strained between symbols (e.g. tank man), metaphors (e.g. protesters giving flowers to police/military) and visual clichés (e.g. rock-throwing masked protester), images of protests and protesters play an important role in struggles over interpretation of the events, legitimacy of protester’s demands and their status as either citizens, crowds, “the people” or mobs. Moreover, protest visuals are not simply part of representation of events; they are increasingly becoming tools of political mobilization, resistance and even modes of protesting themselves through image-based activism, documentation and archiving projects and more.