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A (new) specter haunts Europe: the political legibility of Spain’s hologram protests

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This article analyzes the use of holograms in the 2015 public demonstrations by the collective “Holograms for Freedom” in Madrid in response to the “Ley Mordaza” or “Gag Law”. The protest calls into question the logic of the activist movements that precede it – movements in which political action was predicated on the physical occupation of space by dissenting bodies, a stipulation of both presence and present. Instead, the holograms unsettle traditional notions of political space and modern temporality. Indeed, the protests, or manifestaciones, in Madrid manifest a ghostly technological (non)presence that is at once bound in past and future, and always located elsewhere. For contemporary political philosophers such as Judith Butler or Jacques Rancière, political subjectivity is bound up with the moment and place of embodied enunciation, the movement of bodies and the reclamation of space. But the holographic projection collapses both space and time through technological mediation, manifesting a scene of things, not beings. The apparatus of the hologram conjures a past subjectivity preserved in light, transforming an embodied political subjectivity into a disembodied technical object. Grounding my analysis of both the performance of the protest and the medium of the hologram itself in the politically charged history of spectrality in Spain and in the context of the country’s financial crisis, I argue that the protest rethinks the concepts of political space and occupation. Furthermore, through spatial, temporal and material destabilization, the demonstration contributes to the reimagining of political action in the twenty-first century and prefigures an increasingly technologized political future.
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Keywords: Contemporary Spain; hauntology; media; networks; political movements

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2018

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