Remembering Activism: The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe

Memoryscapes of 15-M

(Duration of the project Feb 2019-Jan 2023)

My PhD project Protest Slogans as Carriers of Memory explores how a protest repertoire not only offers a store of tactics but also allows a movement to situate itself within an activist memoryscape. It pursues this question by focusing in particular on the use and re-use of slogans. How do protest slogans with long histories and contemporary afterlives come to accrue cultural memories of past struggles, people, or even tactics? And how can those memories help activists articulate new political claims for their case? The project’s case studies include the slogan ‘No Gods No Masters’, which was coined in 1880 as the French ‘Ni Dieu Ni Maître’ by Auguste Blanqui and has since become known as an anarchist slogan; the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) slogan ‘¡No Pasarán!’ which has figured in multiple movements, including the 15-M protest of 2011; and the feminist slogan ‘My Body My Choice’, which was first used in the women’s liberation movement during the late 1960s. Paying close attention to their dissemination in different media and the way slogans operate and spread through a process of reuse and adaptation, I aim both to analyse the political functions of the mobilisation of a memory and to shed light on how the circulation of slogans through both activist media production and commodification makes certain memories and phrases ‘stick’, resonate, and continue to inspire more than others.