"The Protest, Culture, and Society Series by Berghahn Books […] has contributed much to our understanding of the role of protest in twentieth and twenty-first century historical and cultural change."
- Journal for the Study of Radicalism
"In a series of several volumes Berghahn Books offers a powerful contribution to the currently much-discussed impacts of transnational protest history."
Research on domestic dissent and social unrest in Europe and the U.S. as well as other parts of the globe has been blossoming for various years. However, despite significant advances with regard to the analysis of local movements, protest movements and their subcultures have hitherto only been analyzed marginally and within closed national contexts. This extensive gap in historical research is all the more regrettable since activists often considered themselves part of a larger international network, drawing on other movements for inspiration after which they modeled their own actions.
Since the student movements in the late 1960s, protest movements have been strategically interested in building a transnational public sphere that they can use as a most effective political resource. Initiated by the international peace movement after the Second World War and furthered by the protest against the war in Vietnam, protest movements began to articulate problems of national politics within international contexts and structures (i.e. "the international capitalism").
Beneath their political protest, protesters articulated their cultural protest by using new symbols, rituals and performative acts that were explicitly and provocatively shown in public. The protagonists of protest also often used elements of other cultural contexts and protest movements and integrated them into their own national order. Despite different national contexts, these adoptions and political utilizations reinforced the impression of being part of an international movement and at the same time forced one's own national public to face global problems.
This internationalization of protest was deeply connected to a common, transnationally comprehensible arsenal of visual codes. Since images, visual symbols and rituals are able to overcome linguistic borders, the international networking of the movements also relied to a great extent on the development of international visual codes of protest. This international visualization, on the other hand, was based on the evolution of visual mass media. Television, which grew at this point turned into a leading mass medium, initiated a broad visualization of the public sphere.
As a consequence, the audiovisual performance of political events and their significance increased rapidly. Television and other visual mass media very quickly discovered the sensational qualities of the public protest. Protestors, on the other hand, discovered the power of media performances that they could use as a political resource and for mobilization.
This series of publication wants to assemble these various innovative approaches to phenomena of social change, protest and dissent in the 20th century which have emerged in recent years from an interdisciplinary perspective. It aims to look at long-term historical developments and previously unexplored venues of research; for example, by including the overall relationship between protest movements and their interaction in a larger social context, the influence of other historical trajectories, the various segments of society, political and legal institutions, as well as the mutual conceptions underlying these communications on a national and international level.
Thereby, the series seeks to contextualize social protest and cultures of dissent in larger political processes and socio-cultural transformations, critically drawing on concepts of civil society on a domestic as well as global level to offer a more comprehensive and multi-dimensional view of social change in the 20th century.
For more information on the series and upcoming volumes, please download our flyer.