September’s protests around the globe

Protesters in Prague demonstrate at a pro-migration/refugee event

September has seen both violent and peaceful political protests unfolding across the globe. Nepalese have protested, both before and after their county’s parliament overwhelmingly voted to adopt a new constitution. In Europe, Moldovans continued largely peaceful protests that began earlier this year and demanded that members of their government step down. In Africa, Burkinabé poured into the streets of Ouagadoudu to protest a coup attempt which occurred almost exactly a year after protests brought about the end of President Blaise Compaoré’s 27 years in office. While the protests in Ouagadougu and Nepal turned violent, recent protests in the relatively wealthy countries of Europe have remained largely peaceful as tens of thousands demonstrated in support of or opposition to permitting politically un-represented refugees from seeking asylum within the borders of the European Union. Although most of these protests remain unresolved, their geographical and cultural diversity provide researchers with opportunities as they seek to understand how different media networks report on contemporary protests.

Jacob Sommer

2011 London Protests hit the screen at the Toronto Film Festival

The lineup at the Toronto Film Festival this week is a reminder of why it’s useful to plot the relationship between ‘real’ protests mediated on television news broadcasts, and their depiction in popular culture. Several of the films being screened in Toronto examine the London protests of 2011. The Hard Stop, a documentary about the killing of Mark Duggan, incorporates news footage of rioters. London Fields updates Martin Amis’ 1989 portrait of a city in crisis, simmering with discontent. And Urban Hymn connects with song, underlining the need to include popular music in the analysis of protest on screen (see Diana Grecu’s ‘Where have all the protest songs gone? Protest, rock music and the global music industry’ for more).

Alexa Robertson

Syrian’s protest here and now


Four years ago Syrians took to the streets to protest against the authoritarian rule of their country. People across Europe and beyond followed the events through large and small screens, applauded, and confirmed their right to freedom. Today Syrians are among the refugees protesting for freedom outside the Budapest train station, and instead of applauding, European governments are quickly erecting fences and walls to keep them out, responding in many cases to domestic political opinion. Why were the protests so differently received then and now? Can an answer be found by looking at how television journalists have framed their plight over the years? Making sense of such evolutions, and differences in time and space, is one of the challenges the project addresses.

Alexa Robertson