P(R)OTESTAS is a transdisciplinary, trans-Pacific comparative research of protest, power, and digital authoritarianism, focused on the recent massive anti-government protests and hard-handed repression in South-East Asia and Latin America. Addressing the increasing digitization of protest and policing across the Global South – and taking into account the shift from street manifestations of protest and authoritarian actions to the digital sphere – our research’s main scope is the cultural-political content produced and distributed in the latter realm. We trace how both activists and state actors produce, share, and re-use multi-mediated political messages on digital platforms. What kind of discursive and visual counternarratives arise, and what broader repertoires do they draw on? In addition, we investigate when and how the state seeks to intervene in or control the digital sphere. What are the consequences of such digital authoritarian measures for protest, and how do activists respond? In our roundtable, the project’s researchers – Julienne Weegels, Yatun Sastramidjaja, and Luisa González Valencia – will present the theoretical and empirical outlines and key objectives of the P(R)OTESTAS project. In doing so, Yatun will present the project's objectives and her analysis of cyber-troops and cyber-struggles in Indonesia. Luisa will then present her analysis of viral video's produced by and about the Colombian police in the context of the current Colombian protests, and Julienne Weegels will close the session by addressing the sensorial qualities of online co-presence and witnessing and its ramifications for the meme-ification and memorialization of Nicaragua's protests. Together these cases illustrate how the socio-technological affordances of the digital realm inflect the politics and aesthetics of authoritarianism and protest.
Yatun Sastramidjaja is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. Her current research focuses on youth activism, authoritarianism, democratisation, and digital technologies in Southeast Asia, in particular Indonesia.
Julienne Weegels is Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the politics and aesthetics of (dis)order, incarceration, and hybrid forms of repression.
Luisa F. González Valencia is a filmmaker and film curator, and currently a Ph.D. candidate on Colombian popular cinemas with ARTES and CEDLA, University of Amsterdam.