Protestival: Global days of action and carnivalized politics in the present

St John, Graham (2008) Protestival: Global days of action and carnivalized politics in the present. Social Movement Studies Journal, 7 2: 167-190. doi:10.1080/14742830802283550

Author St John, Graham
Title Protestival: Global days of action and carnivalized politics in the present
Journal name Social Movement Studies Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1474-2837
Publication date 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/14742830802283550
Volume 7
Issue 2
Start page 167
End page 190
Total pages 24
Place of publication Abingdon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2009
Language eng
Subject 160805 Social Change
970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
Abstract Investigating the significance of carnivalized methods of protest in the present, this article explores the characteristics and recent history of the protestival, the carnival of protest which has flourished with the advent of the alter-globalization movement. Heir to the carnivalized politics of the 1960s, and drawing from radical avant-garde movements and guerrilla theatre, the ‘protestival’ inherits much from the kinds of ‘symbolic challenges’ thought posed by post-1960s social movements. Immediately downstream from Reclaim the Streets, demonstrating a resurgence of autonomism, anarchism and direct democracy, and developing within the context of global opposition to neo-liberalism and the War on Terror, the Global Day of Action would become the template for popular direct action: in particular those events nominated ‘Carnivals Against Capitalism’ or ‘For Global Justice’. While new social movement theorists have recognized the significance of movement cultural politics, new approaches are needed to understand the festal and carnivalesque character of the contemporary activism. Recently scholars have indicated that summit sieges, autonomous convergences and other recent reflexive events constitute transnational ‘carnivalesque rituals’, politico-religious ‘pilgrimage’ destinations, or spatial reconfigurations critical to the renewed opposition to capitalism. The ‘protestival’ provides an ambiguously nuanced heuristic sufficient to comprehend those performative moments simultaneously transgressive and progressive, against and for, by which the marginal may take their grievances to the physical and symbolic centres (‘summits’) of neo-liberalism, where alternative logics and spectacles are performed. Unpacking its expositional and revelatory logic, the article uncovers the roots of the ‘protestival’, undertaking an exploration of intentional carnival, festal hacktivism, direct theatre, tactical frivolity and (un)masking to reveal a significant action template in the present.
Keyword Carnival
Street theatre
Culture jamming
Alter-globalisation movement
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies Publications
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Created: Wed, 01 Apr 2009, 16:39:34 EST by Angela Mason on behalf of Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies