GCU in £250k research project analysing aesthetics of protest

04 July 2016

GCU in £250k research project analysing aesthetics of protest

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researchers are part of a new project analysing the aesthetics of protest, in particular, how protesters use social media to communicate with the public and each other.

The 16-month ‘Aesthetics of Protest: Visual Communication and Culture in Turkey’ project is funded by a £250,000 grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Led by Dr Aidan McGarry, Principal Lecturer in Politics at the University of Brighton, and GCU’s Dr Umut Korkut, Reader in Glasgow School for Business and Society, the work will focus on the 2013 protests in Turkey, particularly in Gezi Park in Istanbul.

With mainstream media being suppressed, protesters have turned to social media. This project examines the aesthetics of protest, in particular, how protesters use social media to communicate their messages to the public and how they attempt to engage the public, politicians and fellow protestors.

Protesters have a range of options open to them in order to have their voice heard and increasingly use a variety of strategies in order to communicate their ideas, such as images, symbols, graffiti, clothes, and art, as well as the choreography of protest actions in public spaces.

Dr Korkut said: “Through the use of social media, protesters have been able to create an alternative space for people to engage with politics that is more inclusive and participatory than traditional politics. The use of social media allows people to share ideas on protest activity and deliberate with one another in an online environment. What was significant about the protests in Turkey was how images were shared across social media platforms in order to communicate the messages of the protestors, to unite the public and to challenge the unpopular policies of the government which had provoked the protests in the first place.”

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