647.1 Beyond Foucault's subject of power: The affect of visual emergence in grass-roots social activism

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 9:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Karen CRINALL , School of Applied Media and Social Sciences, Monash University, Churchill, Australia
In responding to questions about the role visual sociology can play in representing how power becomes effective and operates at the micro level of social relations, this presentation (cautiously) proposes that it may be fruitful to reach beyond the Foucauldian idea of power as everyday disciplinary practice. It is suggested that useful analytical directions might be found by engaging with concepts drawn from complexity theory and the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, which consider power in relation to complex systems, sensory engagement, emergence and affect. The example of a local-level initiative, which drew heavily on the visual, will ground the discussion in social actuality.

During four days in November 2008 over one thousand men, women and children marched through eight rural towns in the southeast of the Australian mainland. Known as the “The Gippsland CommUNITY Walk Against Family Violence”, this local-level action is recognised across state and national levels as an example of successful engagement between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in positive, community-led action to resist violence against women and children.

Prior to, during and after the Walk the visual provided a significant vehicle for influencing and effecting action. A visual audit, conducted as part of an evaluation of the Walk, identified fifteen distinct visual devices, these incorporated colour, traditional symbols and dress, dance and performance. Intentions for the use of the visual included message conveyance, inspiring and unifying participants and connecting the micro level of individuals and community with the macro level of law and Government policy. This presentation discusses how multiple, intersecting visual elements contributed to forming spaces where, through sensory experience, participants were engaged to participate in political action. Consideration is also given to the Walk as an emergent phenomenon in which the visual performed as a vector for forming social, cultural and political alliances and identities.