Videoactivism As an Urban Phenomenon: Rio De Janeiro and Cape Town

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:20
Oral Presentation
Jacob GEUDER, University of Basel, Switzerland
“Anywhere, where something is happening in the world, there is a cellphone. Almost everywhere, there is 3G”, answered the filmmaker during our interview in Cape Town. Moving images of mass protests, burning cars and barricades or clashes shot through cameras of smartphones and distributed via social media have become part of global media consumption latest since the Arab spring 2010/2011. Since then, news production by citizens through smartphones and social media potentially create viral videos everywhere at any point.

Videoactivism – sometimes also labelled as media-activism (mídiativismo in Brasil) or citizen-journalism – signifies the appropriation of video production and distribution by activists, together with witness-videos made by amateurs. By re-embedding the practices of videoactivism in their specific urban contexts, my analysis shows how online-activism emanates from particular settings which it simultaneously transforms. Theoretically drawing on Henri Lefebvre’s work of “The Production of Space” (1974) and “the Right to the City” (1968) my goal is to describe the mutual infiltrations between the “streets” and the “net”.

This research looks at Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town’s videoactivism(s) to illustrate current developments in two metropolises from the Global South. Methodologically, I research online-videos through an ethnographic approach, which allows in depth descriptions of the practices of videoactivism and hereby focuses on the perspectives of videoactivists themselves. Based on an excellent field access I generated a rich set of qualitative data. The goal of my presentation at ISA is to show some insights from the resulting thick description of the practices of videoactivism in both cities. With my contribution I wish to offer a detailed account of videoactivism to substantiate politicized discussions about “digital revolutions”: Certainly these debates about digital revolutions are of high social and academic relevance, especially in regards to the rapid urban transformations in the Global South.