Nonviolent Communication Tactics: Insights from Protest Uprisings in Burma and Iran

Title: Nonviolent Communication Tactics: Insights from Protest Uprisings in Burma and Iran
Authors: Heisler, Jay
Date: 2012-05-14
Abstract: Essential to any activist movement is an effective communication strategy. With that in mind, my research examines cases where nonviolence and nonviolent protest tactics have been used to communicate. By demonstrating and communicating the nonviolence of their movements through their actions in order to gain the sympathy of key target audiences, activists effectively use these actions as a form of propaganda. Such communicative acts can include eye-catching physical actions that attract the attention of professional journalists and citizen journalists, and later the attention of international actors and potential domestic supporters. So far, very little academic literature appears to have examined nonviolent protest actions as a form of political communication. In the case studies that I have examined in my research, those of the 2007 “Saffron Revolution” uprising in Burma and the 2009 “Green Movement” uprising in Iran, there were several notable examples of nonverbal propaganda. In my research, I use a notable framework in propaganda theory—Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell’s process for propaganda analysis—to examine the physical actions used by protesters in the recent Burmese and Iranian uprisings. I analyze a series of images from Burma and Iran to establish how the protesters’ nonviolent actions demonstrate clear pragmatic use and substantial propaganda value. I then assert that future nonviolent activist movements would be wise to harness the power of nonverbal propaganda, to create compelling images through which their nonviolence is demonstrated and their political goals are advanced.
CollectionThèses Saint-Paul // Saint Paul Theses
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