In recent years, activists around the world have increasingly used digital photography and video as a central part of their repertoires of action. This panel seeks papers that reflect on the challenges this exercise of self-representation poses for anthropological studies of such movements.
The use of digital media among activists around the world has become widespread. Their use of digital photography and video helps spread demands, critiques, and campaigns to wider populations. In short, they help make visible their dissent. In doing so, social movements and other groupings shape the representations they want to be known about them. How does this practice affect anthropological renderings of their processes? Are we able to disentangle the self-representation from the issues, and their wider context? Or do we more easily follow their agenda by even perhaps contributing to the effort of such representations? This panel seeks to bring together anthropological studies of such groups where this practice has itself proved to be a challenge for analysis. The various approaches that can take place when studying activism may have differing implications in this respect. We are particularly interested in efforts to shape cities through creative protests and actions, such as promoting the use of bicycles, stopping the demolition of historic buildings, or defending green areas. Campaigns such as these entail a vision of the future without deterritorialization and privatization inclusive and not exclusive for all inhabitants of the cities where they take place. With this in mind, activists design their messages to appeal to wider populations. By focusing solely on the images, we seek to focus on the content of efforts of self-representation rather than on their distribution in social media. We also pose the question about how these techniques can travel among other activist-led campaigns.