720.3 Talking bodies in public: Embodied activism and strategies for protest

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 1:10 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Begonya ENGUIX , Arts and Humanities, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Barcelona, Spain
The occupation of public space by signifying bodies is basic for activism. The visibility of demonstrating bodies confronts social meanings, enacts social claims and shapes social imaginaries about the protest and the protesters. Bodies are not just mediators of protest: they are protest.

This proposal aims to analyze the embodied practices as activist practices by considering the articulation of LGTB (Lesbian, Gay, Transsexual and Bisexual) claims with wider political contexts, with the strategies for the visibilization of LGTB claims and with the use of bodies as political instruments in the Spanish context and particularly in Madrid LGTB State Demonstration (labelled by MTV as the best LGTB event in the world and the biggest event in Europe with more than a million participants). The terrain of gender and sex dissidence is a fertile context for the analysis of the vehiculation of meaning and claim through bodies, as gender and sex experiences are profoundly embodied.

Scheper-Hughes and Lock’s political bodies, Scribano’s social bodies and Bourdieu’s, Foucault’s and Butler’s analysis on social control and embodied practices will be strong theoretical inspirations for this proposal that is based in an intensive ethnographic fieldwork initiated in 2006 (and intensified after 2008).

The changes in the itinerary of the marches (visibility), the changes in participation, and embodied practices such as the use of masks, t-shirts, banners, flags, slogans, and music, will be considered in relation to public protest.

The intersections between gendered presentations, vindication and fiesta, and political and sexual claims will serve to analyze the different strategies of embodiment displayed in Madrid and to compare them to the embodied expressions in other Spanish cities (Barcelona in particular). The presence and absence of particular bodies in the demonstrations (politicians and trade unionists’ support through presence/absence) will be also taken into account.