Performing Democracy (Questions 3 and 6)

prison writing

What does it mean to protest through literature or with cultural forms? How are these forms of performing democracy?

Literature and other forms of free expression have the power to unveil injustice, tell stories of heritage, suffering, and abuse. They can attempt to counter dehumanization, preserve memory, and empower those who have been oppressed and made voiceless. Protests demonstrated through performance using literature or cultural forms is a way to act re-constructively upon collective memory. Using performance to express and expose grief or loss and emotions from past experience, individuals and communities alike are able to voice their claim to their heritage, voting rights, political presence, and freedom of speech; they seek the right to tell their stories.

Protest is not only political and economic, but also fits within a “paradigm of political bloom” (xvii). What are the three factors in this paradigm or model?

The three factors described within the contemporary “paradigm of political bloom” are gender locations, social contestation, and artistic revision. Cultural forms of protest are important means by which to zoom in upon this paradigm’s three aspects. According to Segall, “Theses verbalizations are healing venues, if we consider how repressive regimes, characterized by elite economic priviledging after decades of colonization and upheaval, and by imprisonment and torture, have stifled so many voices” (xvii). So, while she acknowledges the continuing protest connected with cultural forms and emphasizes how media art highlights social dynamics but is unable to positively reconstruct political tides, she shows how these factors give hope to the Arab Spring.

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