Revolutions and activism in retrospect: the material and immaterial production of legacies and meanings
Alice Wilson (University of Sussex)
Charis Boutieri (King's College London)
Sian Lazar (University of Cambridge)
Frances Pine (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Examination Schools Room 7
Start time:
18 September, 2018 at 15:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The panel explores how in the years following intense activism or revolution, those affected use diverse social and material forms to shape new meanings and legacies for their experiences.

Long abstract:

How do meanings of political activism and revolutionary militancy change over time? Periods of extraordinary action such as strikes, protests and revolution dominate media and popular representations of activism and revolution. Yet it is often after exceptional moments that enduring relations, hierarchies and networks, as well as meanings and legacies, emerge.

This panel explores how types of sociality and the material cosmos in the wake of revolution and activism (re)make the meanings people attribute to militant experiences. Bringing an ethnographic lens to actors ranging from state institutions to political parties and grassroots militants, the papers examine social and material connections that people choose to make in the wake of their lives having been changed - or not changed as anticipated - through revolution and activism.

Probing the reproduction, transformation, and contestation of revolutionary and activist values and networks, we ask with whom former militants and protestors in a range of settings meet, discuss, socialise, plan business opportunities, and form intimate relationships. Additionally, we ask how these relationships and meanings are contingent upon material forms: emergent forms of public and private spaces, new avenues for mobilising resources, new vocabularies of change, legitimacy, and political belonging, as well as artefacts that are meant to embody revolution or activist agendas and their aftermath such as constitutions, new bills or transitional justice case files.

By highlighting the unstable, pluralistic processes in which dominant and oppositional reinterpretations of activism and revolution compete and transform over time, we contest teleological narratives of progress and revolution.