Thursday, August 2, 2012

OWS's Tactical and Symbolic Use of Books

Books have long been central to protest movements. Occupy Wall Street is no exception. In addition to its extremely resilient People's Library, OWS has found another effective way to incorporate books into acts of resistance: the book bloc.

Book blocs at an Occupy Wall Street protest in Oakland, California.
Photo via
What are book blocs? They are shields that have been decorated to resemble books, particularly titles that have strongly political or revolutionary themes, such as The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon; Assata: An Autobiography, by Assata Shakur; and Letters of Insurgents, by Fredy Perlman. Protestors hold these shields in front of them as they march. By doing so, they not only have some protection against flying police batons, but they also produce an incredibly striking image for the highly visual media. Book blocs were first seen in Italy in 2010. Since then, they have appeared in grassroots actions in Spain, London, New York, California, and elsewhere. On Governor's Island, OWS in New York recently held a workshop on making book blocs. It looks as if the book bloc will continue to be a regular visual component of OWS protests worldwide.

For a bit more on book blocs, and how OWS is using them, go HERE and HERE.

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