• The Revolution Will be Uploaded: Vernacular Video and the Arab Spring

    Author(s):
    Peter Snowdon (see profile)
    Date:
    2014
    Group(s):
    Anarchism, Cultural Studies, Film Studies
    Subject(s):
    Film and politics
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Arab Spring, Ivan Illich, Libya, Vernacular, YouTube
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6CD5K
    Abstract:
    The vernacular online videos produced by the Arab revolutions constitute an unprecedented (though not unproblematic) historical resource for understanding the subjective experience of the ordinary people who find themselves on the front line of revolutionary struggle. But they also effect a sea-change in the way in which we view and understand YouTube itself. This article argues that the political significance of these videos lies less in their explicit content, than in their aesthetics - that is, in the new formal and sensory propositions that they constitute, the ways in which they “redistribute the sensible” (Rancière). The prologue proposes, following Judith Butler, that “the people” who are the subject of history are essentially a performative event, rather than a pre-existing entity, and that to write about revolution therefore requires a performative and allegorical approach. The first section reviews the current academic notion of “vernacular video” in the light of Ivan Illich’s work of the early 1980s on vernacular language and values, and argues that a stronger, more political conception of the vernacular is necessary to do justice to these works. The second section offers a close reading of one particular video from the Libyan uprising, and argues that it offers less an example, than an allegory of the dialogical relationship be- tween the individual and the collective that defines the moral economy of the vernacular. The article concludes by proposing that the right response to such videos is not (just) more theory or criticism, but rather to seek to emulate their radically egalitarian forms of practice.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    5 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives

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