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Remembering Activism: The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe


International ‘Workers’ Day?

Sophie van den Elzen: We will be missing open-air celebrations of May Day this year. There will be few Russians on the Red Square for the variety of causes which May 1st has come to mark since the collapse of the Soviet regime. The tradition of having mass anti-austerity, anti-capitalist, anti-government, and decolonial protests on…

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Trans Memory Activism and Visibility: Archivo de la Memoria Trans Argentina

Daniele Salerno: The Archivo de la Memoria Trans Argentina represents a group of trans activists who collect, organize, and circulate photographs and written materials (diaries, letters, postcards) about trans people in Argentina, with a focus on visual archiving. In 2020, in collaboration with Editorial Chaco, this group published an eponymous selection of photos and archival…

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Remixing the Past: The Soundtrack to Black Lives Matter

Marit van de Warenburg: The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that shook up both sides of the Atlantic last summer, in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, were infused by music. In the United States, songs such as Anderson.Paak’s “Lockdown” and H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe” sought to capture the…

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Memory Activism and Transitional Justice in Spain

David Beorlegui Zarranz: On 15 September 2020, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved a draft bill on the Law of Democratic Memory which acknowledged the crimes committed during the Civil War (1936-1939) and the Francoist military dictatorship (1939-1978). Despite the magnitude of the Franco regime’s violence and the deep scars it left on the social…

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Duygu Erbil

Activism Remembered Through the Courtroom

Duygu Erbil: The widespread availability of smartphones has provided activists with new tools to document protest and ensure that its memory is preserved. The Internet is full of advice on how to keep electronic devices safe during demonstrations so as to minimize the risk of evidence – of numbers, of peacefulness, of police brutality –…

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Why Monuments Matter (And When They Don’t)

Ann Rigney: In the centre of Paris on the afternoon of 16 May 1871 a huge crowd was waiting to the sound of the Marseillaise. Around a quarter past five, an expectant silence fell on the company as, after hours of preparation, the sign was given for the cables to be pulled. All eyes were…

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‘My Body My Choice’: Why the Anti-Lockdown Protesters are Appropriating Memory

Tashina Blom: While Trump is egging them on and Bolsonaro has even joined them and called them “patriots”, the protesters taking to the streets against the coronavirus lockdown are mobilizing more than just nationalist rhetoric. They are weaponising feminist slogans from the abortion rights movement. The question is: why? Why would anti-lockdown protests become a…

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Delacroix in Hong Kong: Activism, Memory and Visual Representation

Thomas Smits: Yesterday evening World Press photo announced the winners of its 2020 contest. Nicolas Asfouri won the first prize in the General News category for his series ‘Hong Kong Unrest,’ which documents the vehement, unprecedentedly-large and long-lasting, anti-government protests in the city. Describing the first picture in the series, the World Press website notes:…

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Clara Tumbnail

International Women’s Day: Why is it on 8 March?

Clara Vlessing: On 8 March, International Women’s Day (IWD), last year I marched through the streets of Amsterdam in a tide of shouting placard-wielding protestors. By planning the protest on this day, its organisers imbued it with a sense of historicity, aiming to emphasise the changes and continuities in a long-running progression of women’s marches…

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