Making protest matter: bodies, objects, and rhetorical assemblage in social justice movements

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Andrea McCrary (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Risa Applegarth

Abstract: Making Protest Matter: Bodies, Objects, and Rhetorical Assemblage in Social Justice Movements considers three historical social movements in the 20th century to examine the rhetorical power of body-object assemblage in protest moments. Focused on three cases in which marginalized people sought to resist long-standing cultural narratives and create lasting cultural change, this project traces the rhetorical effects of ephemeral embodied performance and protest objects used in concert. In considering the cases of women wearing ribbons during the suffrage movement in the U.S., black bodies raising fists in the 1960s and 1970s, and queer people adopting the rainbow icon during the gay liberation movement of the later decades of the 20th century, I demonstrate the influence of collectivities of bodies and objects, tracing their rhetorical power in the moment, their circulatory possibilities, and their long-standing durability as cultural change occurs. Drawing on new materialist scholarship, performance theories, and circulation studies, the analysis of ephemeral protest rhetoric in this project offers scholars in social movement studies and rhetoric models for examining how these assemblages support agency for people seeking cultural change. Given that protest and injustice continue to be with us, the study of these historical moments of protest offers a critical overview of how objects and bodies function together.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Protest, Social Movements
Rhetoric $x Social aspects
Social movements
Social justice

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