“A brilliant spark that will fly through the air and set the vapors of our insurrectionary imaginations alight.”John Jordan, founder of Reclaim the Streets
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The global south has long been at the forefront of creative protest tactics and strategies. Beautiful Rising, a partnership between ActionAid and Beautiful Trouble, seeks to document, systematize and share these innovations so that others can learn from them and apply them in their own contexts.
We’ll not only showcase the best examples of creative activism at work in the global south, but partner directly with grassroots activists to illuminate the principles and practices of effective creative activism in the diverse and politically challenging circumstances they’re facing. Here are just a few examples of the sorts of actions we’re looking for:
Months after a devastating earthquake, activists in Haiti pose as French government officials to announce that France would repay reparations it had long ago collected after Haiti’s independence — calling attention to the long history of unjust debts that have crippled the country.
When the corrupt media dismisses Mexican university students protesting right-wing presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto as “paid outside agitators,” 131 of them post videos of themselves displaying their student IDs, sparking the #YoSoy132 movement (I am 132, or the 132nd student), and breathing new energy into Mexican activism.
After fourteen years of civil war, Liberian women use a range of creative nonviolent protest tactics, including the age-old “Lysistrata” sex boycott, to end the war and elect the country’s first female head of state.
During the Saffron Revolution, a pro-democracy Burmese youth movement uses graffiti stencils and pamphlets to cleverly spread messages opposing Myanmar’s military government.
Anti-corruption crusaders in India stage a series of sit-ins and hunger strikes which swell into mass protests that not only win significant reforms but propel a startlingly effective “Common Man” third major political party.
After police brutally repress Turkish democracy protesters, a lone artist (the “Standing Man”) stands vigil in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, his discipline and decorum overturning the media fiction of protesters as a violent, undisciplined mob, and rallying hundreds of thousands to renew their calls for freedom of expression and assembly.
Faced with a sky-high traffic fatality rates, Bogotá mayor Antanas Mockus replaces the notoriously corrupt traffic police with mimes who mock lawbreakers and applaud courteous drivers, eventually reducing traffic fatalities by 50%.
These are just a few examples. What other bold, creative actions, campaigns and movements from across the global south should we showcase?