Photography and social movements

From the globalisation of the movement (1968) to the movement against globalisation (2001)

Author: Antigoni Memou

Throughout its brief history, photography has had a close relationship to social movements. From the Commune of Paris in 1871, the first political uprising to be captured by camera, to the 1990s anti-globalisation movement, the photographic medium has played a crucial role in political struggles. The book reflects critically on the theory of photography and the social movements themselves. It draws on a range of humanities disciplines, including photography theory and history, social movement theory, political theory, cultural history, visual culture, media studies and the history and theory of art. The book takes as a starting point 1968 - a year that witnessed an explosion of social movements worldwide and has been interpreted as a turning point for political practice and theory. The finishing point is 2001 - a signpost for international politics due to September 11 and a significant year for the movement because of the large-scale anti-capitalist protests in Genoa. Within these chronological limits, the book focuses on a selection of distinctive instances in which the photographic medium intersects with the political struggle. The three case studies are not the only pertinent examples, by any means, but they are important ones, not only historically and politically, but also iconographically. They are the student and worker uprising in France in May 1968 and two moments of the contemporary anti-capitalist movement, the indigenous Zapatista movement in Mexico and the anti-capitalist protests in Genoa in 2001.

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