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Presentation Reflection

Renee’s presentation about censorship in China was particularly interesting to me due to the fact that I still can’t wrap my head around the topic in general. It amazes me how an entire country filled with an Internet using population of over 700 million is so successfully censored by the government. After this presentation it came to my attention that I have taken my freedom of speech and internet/social media usage for granted here in America. I can’t begin to imagine American millennial culture without freedom of speech, especially in our current political situation.

One specific moment in the presentation that haunts my thoughts is China’s attempt to bury the story of the train wreck by literally burying the entire scene and those still trapped in the train. This is truly frightening because it makes me wonder what other tragic stories they have successfully erased from the world/their citizens by censoring articles and reports in the news. It was nice learning that internet-using activist in China have found loopholes to take advantage of in their insanely censored world. Their use of art and word play is brilliant and opens up the door to a whole new range of discussions through social media, blogs, and other websites.

Reflecting on the actions of these activists, I’m not sure I would be brave enough to risk being sent to jail for a period of time to discuss what the government wants to keep quiet. Although Renee mentioned lawyers often defend these activists by claiming they weren’t trying to make any political statements, just be humorous on the internet, I would still be too afraid the possible consequences. It will be interesting to see what new loopholes activists will get away with next.

Post-presentation thoughts

Paulina’s presentation on lactivism made me want to more about it. Sure, the “scandal” of breastfeeding in public pops up on news media outlets every once in awhile, but prior to learning about lactivism, I hadn’t realized there was an entire movement devoted to the whole breast or no breast debate. What’s more, I hadn’t realized that there was a rather dark history to infant formula. By examining both sides of the argument, as well as bringing in the past, the presentation really brought attention to the movement. It’s also strange, that something so obviously necessary to debate is not as covered in the media as it should be. I’d love to know more about lactivism, because child nutrition is incredibly important.

I think Abhinav’s presentation on sports activism and media presentation taught me the most. As somebody who has a rather adverse allergy to anything “sport”, it was interesting to see that moves like Colin Kaepernick were not just isolated events throughout history. While I had known a little bit about people like Mohammed Ali and Magic Johnson, I had never fathomed the idea that athletes had developed such a role in modern day times. While I may never understand sports, Abhinav’s presentation taught me that high profile sports stars are more than just media darlings, and that they have the potential to influence the perception of social activist movements.

Richard’s presentation on water activism surprised me a lot. Last year, my roommate may have gone on a complete diatribe about my extensive showers (that lasted an eternity of 10 minutes…) and how California was in a drought. My argument, coming from somebody who didn’t grow up in California, at the time was that agriculture was already taking up a large proportion of the water anyways, so why should I bother, and that if Stanford really wanted to cut back on water usage, it would stop watering its grass, and use better watering techniques. But after learning about how much farmers are already cutting back on water-hungry crops, as well as the pressure said local farmers are facing, it’s made me do a complete about face  on my stance on water conservation in California.

Amit’s argument about using religious arguments as a progressive, however, I felt was the most inspiring. A lot of the arguments back where I’m from stem from the Christian Bible. It reminds me of the phrase “if you can’t beat them, join them.” With regards to an older society that sometimes refers to people under 30 as “special snowflakes”, to argue on their level using their rhetoric makes sense from a logical perspective.

Blog Post #5

Lena’s presentation made me want to know more about the alt-right. I’m interested in politics myself (as can be seen from my topic selection of the Tea Party), but I find the alt-right to be a highly complex collection of a variety of people. The alt-right is commonly thought of as a group of uneducated bigots, but Lena exposed some less-obvious traits such as willingness to have civil discussion on Internet forums. As the alt-right is such a contemporary issue, I am eager to follow future developments on the alt-right as an activist movement seeking to enact a change in society.

Renee’s presentation was the most educational for me. As a Chinese speaker and writer myself, I understood the basis for many of the ideas that Renee discussed, but I had not previously been exposed to the actual application of Chinese linguistics to activism. Renee did a good job outlining the numerous ways in which activists can take seemingly harmless phrases like “eye field” or “grass mud horse” and use them to resist oppression. Also, I learned about the Wenzhou train incident, a very poignant example of the use of social media to counteract government censorship.

Makena’s presentation had numerous surprising aspects. I was not so shocked that greenwashing is practiced – it seemed obvious that companies would promote their image by trying to appear more environmentally friendly. What was shocking was that the exact opposite of this practice also exists. Brownwashing understates environmentally friendly developments, in an attempt to appeal to shareholders looking for profitable ventures. This revealed that the issue of corporate image is not as one-dimensional as I thought and there are a number of tactics companies use to manipulate their reputation.

Chris’s presentation on love as a force for social justice was the most inspirational for me. Though a highly abstract topic, Chris was able to draw connections to the idea of love in a variety of activist leaders and movements such as the Black Power movement, Martin Luther King Jr., and the modern Black Lives Matter movement, showing how love is used by each of these groups and proposing ways in which love could further the motives of these activists. In addition, Chris was very engaging as a speaker with attractive visuals to convey feeling and imagery.

Presentation Response

Jessica’s presentation on the model minority myth made me interested in learning about how different stereotypes beyond black and asian stereotypes interact with each other in the US. I’m also interested in learning if there are types of model minority stereotypes that exist in other countries. In other countries with white majorities, like some countries in Europe, are there similar types of interactions with other minority groups or do different histories of immigration make this different? What about countries with nonwhite majorities?

In Liz’s presentation, I learned a lot about nonviolent activist handbooks and specific anti-regime activist movements in eastern Europe that I wasn’t familiar with. I think that looking specifically at Gene Sharp’s activist handbook, which she described as being found after the dust settles in handbooks all around the world, pointed to connections between activist movements that I wasn’t previously aware of.

Sol’s presentation on the place of extremism in the animal rights movement surprised me the most because I haven’t given much thought to the different groups within that movement in the past. I had heard of groups such as ALF but hadn’t really looked at the distinctions between mainstream vegan/vegetarian activism and groups less violent than ALF but who still significantly break social norms in their activism. Sol’s point that extreme activism needs to significantly distance itself from mainstream activism in order to not impede on the effectiveness of that activism but that in distancing itself can actually further the overall animal rights movement wasn’t something I had thought about before and I think might be more widely applicable to other types of movements.

David’s presentation on the connections between money and politics inspired me to be more aware of the different influences that special interest groups have on government actions and policies. It also made me think more critically about campaign propaganda that I saw during the 2016 election as well as factors that go into the difficulties in communicating between people with different pre-existing conceptions. His presentation was also relevant to a process in which I, as a US voter, directly participate.

Blog 5: Reflecting on the class presentations

After listening to everyone’s intriguing topics, I am still interested in Renee’s coverage of censorship and social media activism in China. I thought she did a great job of addressing the sublanguage, which can be developed within the Chinese language. I am curious as to how that is effective and what the repercussions are when censors discover the hidden meaning. I think censorship is an important topic of discussion because of the difficulty surrounding conversations about the right to voice concerns on the Internet.

I believe Steven’s presentation about the Tea Party taught me the most because it addressed the rise of the Tea Party and the underlying economic support that allowed it to gain a foothold in the American political system. I was not aware of the various parts of the party. He also articulated why it lost momentum, which I found to be interesting knowledge considering what that portends for other movements that are backed by large monetary interests.

Lactivism is the topic that I found to be most surprising. Paulina explained the dichotomy between original lactivism and reactionary lactivism. It was surprising to me that the opposing groups undermined the choice of the opposing coalition of women. Overall, it was fascinating that such a personal issue has led to such a split between activists who could be working towards better education and healthcare for mothers.

Richard’s presentation about the water battle in the central valley was the most inspiring to me. It got me more interested in local activist movements because of his account of interviewing the farmers from a community in the central valley. The number of times that I drove by their signs without researching the topic is rather shocking. Therefore, I walked away from his presentation with a stronger desire to cultivate more awareness of issues in my own community and the state of California.

Radical Art Activism: Nudity, Graffiti and Iconoclasm

Radical art activism, through the medium of nudity, graffiti and iconoclasm, is opening up avenues of empathy to create change due to forced perspective.

Activism is the power to seek out causes and sources of social inequality, protrude the social norms of today and make change for our future. It is the doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement of some action to work towards or achieve social or political goals. Although art cannot inhibit immediate change, I will explore how radical art engages with activism through an artist’s visual expression, with the goal to raise awareness and to embody the viewer with a perspective which they may or may not agree with. Radical art is defined as an art practice that is shocking to the viewer, that portrays a situation in an unfamiliar manner against traditional . Radical art can be illegal and extreme, present nudity, and use language to display radical ideologues. Through it’s extremism, I argue that radical art activism has the able to create change through the medium of empathy and forced perspective. With the main case studies of Banksy and public street graffiti, the Guerilla Girls and their iconoclasm in demonstrations, and anti-Female Genital Mutilation campaigns and nudity through the medium of the internet, we will uncover the methods in which they use activism to highlight social issues and will discover how forced perspective is practiced. Furthermore, we will delve into a psychological analysis of empathy in radical art, opening up social issues to disengaged communities.


Thesis Moment: Reading the Alt-Right as an Activist Movement

Research question(s): can we classify the alt-right as an activist movement, and if so how is it an activist movement, and why does this matter?

Thesis: in creating an agenda and seeking to enact change, the alt-right employs rhetoric characteristic of an activist movement. To understand this rhetoric, I will be analyzing a sample size of posts from two major alt-right forums: 4chan’s /pol/ or “politically incorrect” board, and Stormfront, a white nationalist site describing itself as “the voice of the new, embattled white minority.” First, I will discuss my choices in focusing on these groups, and why in particular on online communities. Second, I will analyze key features of forum rhetoric, and how they correspond to prevailing definitions of activism. Third, I will underpin this discussion by comparing these two forums with Reddit’s /r/evolution board, a liberal group devoted to “the free flow of information” as well as democracy. Drawing this parallels will drive home a major point: the left and right are closer, if not in their ideologies, in the structures and processes they use to pursue their agendas and enact change. My evidence consists of forum posts, scholarship done on online community formation, and popular media sources (primarily liberal, to show the need for a better understanding of the alt-right by the mainstream news).