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The Drama, Film and Music Research Forum is delighted to host a lecture the distinguished visiting scholar, Professor Jeffrey Alexander (Yale University), one of the directors of the Yale Center for Cultural Sociology.

 

 

'Seizing the Stage: Mao, MLK, and Black Lives Matter Today'

Date: Friday, 21 October 2016

Time: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Venue: Arts Technology Research Lab (ATRL), Unit 13 Trinity Enterprise Campus (@ Grand Canal Dock), Pearse Street, Dublin 2.

Directions: ATRL Google Maps Link

Abstract:

Social protest should not be conceptualized instrumentally, as a process that depends only upon social networks and material resources. Such factors provide the boundary conditions for symbolic action, but they determine neither its content nor its outcomes. In order to seize power, one must first seize the social stage. Seizing the stage, producing social dramas, and projecting them successfully to audiences -- these are difficult and contingent cultural accomplishments, even for those who possess top-down control. To the degree that political regimes, authoritarian or democratic, allow power to be more easily challenged, to that same degree seizing the social stage becomes still more difficult. In more pluralistic social situations, the elements required for protesters to project a powerful performance that connects with audiences, become separated from one another. To re-fuse these elements, protest performances must be artfully assembled from scratch, from the bottom up. Supplication and inspiration, authentic and heartfelt dramas of sacrifice, become central. The mediation of extra-performative conditions -- interpretive, material, and demographic resources -- becomes significant as well. Bringing this framework to bear on Mao and the Chinese communist revolution, Martin Luther King and the American civil rights movement, and the contemporary racial protest movement led by Black Lives Matter, this lecture seeks to illuminate the art of social protest.

Professor Alexander's biography is available here and here.

Many thanks to Andreas Hess at UCD, the TCD Department of Sociology, and the SPECTRESS Project for making this lecture possible.