The Aesthetics of Protest Movements: The Politics and Culture of Discontent (special issue)

Lucie Filipova's picture
Call for Papers
August 31, 2021
Czech Republic
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Peace History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Theatre & Performance History / Studies

The journal Acta Universitatis Carolinae Studia Territorialia invites authors to submit articles for a special issue titled “The Aesthetics of Protest Movements: The Politics and Culture of Discontent."

Protesters worldwide employ aesthetics, objects, and emotions to achieve their various ends. The aesthetic elements of protest movements are used to mobilize onlookers’ imaginations as a major force for re-envisioning the past and present. The cultures of protest are diverse and multi-layered. They arise from the interaction of underlying social, political, and cultural factors. While the political and social dimensions of protest movements have received consistent attention from academia, the aesthetic dimension of protest is as yet largely unexplored. This special issue of Studia Territorialia aims to deconstruct the aesthetic imagery employed by the political and civic actors involved in protests prior to, during, and after their protests. We do not refer to something as “aesthetic” in the sense of necessarily “beautiful,” “tasteful” or “formal,” because there are other aesthetic values such as “sublime,” “ugly,” “interesting,” and “humorous.” An appeal to these and other values can also fuel emotions and mobilization for political ends. In this special issue, aesthetics is in essence the sensitive and imaginative aspect of the effort to change social and political reality.

This special issue also seeks to explore the visual, performative, and conceptual dimensions of protest actions by focusing on their form, content, and effects as well as on their impact as an aesthetic experience. “Experiencing” in this context does not exclusively mean perceiving through the senses. It also means grasping and engaging with an idea, and the way an idea is materialized through cultural expressions like protest songs, banners, dance, and so on. An aesthetic experience moves us emotionally. What emotions are most effective for achieving the ends of a protest? How are those emotions evoked or manipulated by the aesthetics of a protest? When is humor political? Can beauty and ugliness be used to achieve political ends? Is art an important or appealing ingredient of political communication? To what extent do artivist spaces enlarge the cultural and political spheres? And, finally, does the aesthetics employed by protesters matter to their ultimate success?

Topics may include but are not limited to:
- artivism and the art of protest
- the choreography and staging of protests
- the performative dimension of protests
- the symbolism used in protest
- humor, graffiti, the carnivalesque
- the aesthetics of violence
- photojournalism, visual communication and media reporting of protests
- protest memes, hashtags and the new media
- online and offline archives of visual media documenting protests
- political emotions, witness accounts, and participatory cultures
- protest strategies, counter-strategies, and government responses
- “color revolutions,” regime change, and the technology of protests
- the geopolitics of protests and protest movements in America, Europe and Eurasia

Articles should be in English and should ideally be 6,000 to 9,000 words long (excluding footnotes and abstract). Submissions should be sent to the editorial team at or uploaded via the journal management system. Authors should consult the submission guidelines for further instructions and style. All contributions will be subject to double-blind peer review.

Abstract submission deadline: August 31, 2021.
Notification of status and next steps: September 15, 2021.
Article submission deadline: October 31, 2021.

Studia Territorialia is a leading Czech peer-reviewed academic journal focusing on area studies. It covers the history and the social, political, and cultural affairs of the nations of North America, Europe, and post-Soviet Eurasia in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The journal is published by the Institute of International Studies of Charles University, Prague. It is indexed in the EBSCO, ERIH PLUS, DOAJ, and CEEOL databases and others.

For further inquiries, please feel free to contact the editors.

Contact Info: 

Lucie Filipová, Studia Territorialia executive editor

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