“We Still Have Walls Where to Paint”. from Two Young Actors' Initiative to a Global Graffiti Movement. Case Study of “Zwewla” (“Miserables”)

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Seminarsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Sofia LAINE, Finnish Youth Research Network, Finland
Young Tunisian student, initiator of the movement "Zwewla" (“Miserables”) says that behind his graffiti is clearly expressed social demand: Two youngsters started the movement because the problems of unemployment, poverty and marginalization were not discussed properly in formal national politics. They choose graffiti because it is accessible to all, simplifying the message when it also comes easier across. In this paper I study Zwewla movement, its’ past and current stage, and how its’ key actors expresses visions for alternative futures. As such graffiti is one of the oldest ways of communicating, recently strongly combined with social media. Politics for the local disadvantaged and the global audience intertwine in these activists actions. As the Zwewla is nowadays a global social movement, its action strategy aims to support both the localised and global presence, and therefore my paper also focuses on the both sites: First, on local collective self-presentation, i.e. graffiti tags, visions and actions of young Tunisian actors I have longitudinally followed from the year 2013; second, on global collective self-presentation that can be viewed from Facebook pages and blogs of the followers across the world. Both collective self-presentations are part of the process of collective identity formation and a necessity for a global social movement. Therefore ethnography that tries to understand the phenomena needs to use diverse methodologies in order to capture young actors’ political argumentation. My paper sheds light to different dimensions of my ethnography: grounded and militant (i.e. embodied in certain political spaces and times, also in collaborative terms), multi-sited, visual and digital – and from this hybridity I draw my analysis of the actor’s perspectives on the future and how these perspectives shape their subjectivity. This study is part of the research project Youth and political engagement in contemporary Africa (http://blogs.helsinki.fi/yopo-africa/) funded by Academy of Finland [258235]