Citizen Media and Public Spaces: Diverse Expressions of Citizenship and Dissent
Citizen Media and Public Spaces presents a pioneering exploration of citizen media as a highly interdisciplinary domain that raises vital political, social and ethical issues relating to conceptions of citizenship and state boundaries, the construction of publics and social imaginaries, processes of co-optation and reverse co-optation, power and resistance, the ethics of witnessing and solidarity, and novel responses to the democratic deficit. Framed by a substantial introduction by the editors, the twelve contributions to the volume interrogate the concept of citizen media theoretically and empirically, and offer detailed case studies that extend from the UK to Russia and Bulgaria and from China to Denmark and the liminal spaces within which a growing number of refugees now live. A rich new domain of scholarship and practice emerges out of the studies presented. Citizen media is shown to embrace both physical and digital interventions in public space, as well as the sets of values and agendas that influence and drive the practices and discourses through which individuals and collectives position themselves within and in relation to society and participate in the creation of diverse publics.
This book will be of interest to students and researchers in media and communication studies, particularly those studying citizen media, media and society, journalism and society, and political communication.
‘Nanodemonstrations’ first became part of the Russian protest campaign for fair elections in 2012. Originating in the northern town of Apatity, a wave of ‘doll protests’ – demonstrations and other citizen actions which were staged by using lego dolls and soft toys – swept over many Russian cities. Those that took place in the Siberian city of Barnaul appeared in the Forbes Magazine list of ‘the 12 loudest art protest actions in Russia’. The Barnaul activists decided to abandon the idea of traditional ‘human’ protests because earlier attempts to organize mass demonstrations had not been sanctioned by the local authorities. Replacing humans, toys acted as Latour’s actants, with nanodemonstrations offering a perfect example of ‘When things strike back’ (Latour 2000). The symbolic protest, which involved occupying minimal urban public space, quickly spilled over into virtual space and became a media event. The media, including social media, worked as a multiplier of not only visual and verbal representations of the nanodemonstration as a new form of protest but of the performance itself. The staging of nanodemonstrations, now organized as media events, soon spread to many Russian cities. Focusing on the mutual transformations of the real and the virtual, or their fusion, which when replicated manifold recalls Jean Baudrillard ҆s notion of ‘simulacrum’, this article will examine potential theoretical models and frameworks that can be deployed to analyze similar mediatized and theatrical forms of civil resistance.