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Reflecting on how events have unfolded in the past year, some have been driven to despair that the spark of hope ignited by the Gezi movement has been extinguished. An unrelenting government has become even more hostile towards opposition with its last electoral victory, taken as a “vindication of the national will”. Nonetheless, as we witness the divorce of democracy and individual liberties in the political scene, there is another dynamic at play. The Gezi movement has instigated an irreversible grassroots socialisation, which still finds expression in daily life—through local forums, civic initiatives and a process of deliberation across different social cleavages. It has paved the way for greater political awareness and cultivated democratic values of civic involvement.

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This study revisits the recent history of new protest movements in India. It analyses their causes and actors, their dynamics and forms of action, and their supporters and critics. When it comes to new protest movements, India obviously does not stand alone; but different especially from the ‘Arab Spring’, new protest movements in India operate in a functioning democracy. They do not want to tear down an
authoritarian regime, but to bring into the political arena issues that have either been neglected or not found adequate representation. They do so by mobilising groups of people who have not been involved in politics before, many of them urban, young, and belonging to India’s ‘new middle class’—however imprecise or even inadequate that latter term may appear. By doing all this, the new protest movements renew and revitalise Indian democracy.

video artist Ali Kazma, who represented the country at the 2013 Venice Biennale, has published an online protest statement titled “Something Rotten in the Republic of Turkey.” In his essay, Kazma condemns ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) identity politics, which he claims pit the poorer Islamist sectors of society against the wealthy, more educated classes in order to maintain power.

In a way, gender theory for many in France is just another name for chaos. And some anxiety about chaos is, right now, understandable. With a floundering economy and faltering industrial base, rising unemployment and declining productivity, their borders besieged by globalization and their national institutions superseded by the European Union, the French have rarely been so divided over the identity of their nation and so demoralized over its prospects. (In a recent poll, scarcely 30 percent of respondents described themselves as optimistic over the nation’s future.) For Butler, France’s structural woes ratchet up the anxiety over sexuality and gender: Unable to stabilize the nation’s economy, protesters instead condense “those issues into the need to stabilize heterosexuality.”