Play, Creativity, and Social Movements: If I Can't Dance, It's Not My Revolution

Front Cover
As we play, we step away from stark reality to conjure up new possibilities for the present and our common future. Today, a new cohort of social activists are using it to create social change and reinvent democratic social relations. In contrast to work or routine, play must be free. To the extent that it is, it infuses a high-octane burst of innovation into any number of organizational practices and contexts, and invites social actors to participate in a low-threshold, highly democratic process of collaboration, based on pleasure and convivial social relations. Despite the contention that such activities are counterproductive, movements continue to put the right to party on the table as a part of a larger process of social change, as humor and pleasure disrupt monotony, while disarming systems of power.

Through this book, Shepard explores notions of play as a social movement activity, considering some of the meanings, applications and history of the concept in relation to social movement groups ranging from Dada and Surrealism to Situationism, the Yippies to the Young Lords, ACT UP to the Global Justice, anti-gentrification, community and anti-war movements of recent years.
 

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Contents

Notes toward an Introduction From Play to Eternity
1
1 Surrealists Situations and Street Parties History Play and Social Movements
24
2 Play as Prank From the Yippies to the Young Lords
35
3 Send in the Clowns Play Pleasure and Struggles against Oblivion
56
4 Play as Community Building From Gardens to Global Action
77
5 Play as Street Party Reclaiming Streets and Creating More Gardens
108
6 Playing in TopsyTurvy Times From Carnival to Carnage
167
7 From Play to Panic Ludic Organizing in Absurd Times
213
8 The Limits of Play Radical Clowning vs Tomato Picking
246
Notes toward a Conclusion Reflections on the Study of Play in Social Movements
256
Interviews
277
A Brief Glossary of Groups
279
References
285
About the Author
301
Index
303
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Benjamin Shepard, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Human Service at the New York School of Technology/City University of New York.

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