Manufacturers

Breaking the Spell: A History of Anarchist Filmmakers, Videotape Guerrillas, and Digital Ninjas

Breaking the Spell: A History of Anarchist Filmmakers, Videotape Guerrillas, and Digital Ninjas

Breaking the Spell offers the first full-length study that charts the historical trajectory of anarchist-inflected video activism from the late 1960s to the present by Chris Robé

More details


£15.51

Warning: Last items in stock!

Breaking the Spell offers the first full-length study that charts the historical trajectory of anarchist-inflected video activism from the late 1960s to the present. Two predominant trends emerge from this social movement-based video activism: 1) anarchist-inflected processes increasingly structure its production, distribution, and exhibition practices; and 2) video does not simply represent collective actions and events, but also serves as a form of activist practice in and of itself from the moment of recording to its later distribution and exhibition. Video plays an increasingly important role among activists in the growing global resistance against neoliberal capitalism. As various radical theorists have pointed out, subjectivity itself becomes a key terrain of struggle as capitalism increasingly structures and mines it through social media sites, cell phone technology, and new “flexible” work and living patterns. As a result, alternative media production becomes a central location where new collective forms of subjectivity can be created to challenge aspects of neoliberalism.

Chris Robé’s book fills in historical gaps by bringing to light unexplored video activist groups like the Cascadia Forest Defenders, eco-video activists from Eugene, Oregon; Mobile Voices, Latino day laborers harnessing cell phone technology to combat racism and police harassment in Los Angeles; and Outta Your Backpack Media, indigenous youth from the Southwest who use video to celebrate their culture and fight against marginalization. This groundbreaking study also deepens our understanding of more well-researched movements like AIDS video activism, Paper Tiger Television, and Indymedia by situating them within a longer history and wider context of radical video activism.

Praise:

"Christopher Robé’s meticulously researched Breaking the Spell traces the roots of contemporary, anarchist-inflected video and Internet activism and clearly demonstrates the affinities between the anti-authoritarian ethos and aesthetic of collectives from the ‘60s and ‘70s—such as Newsreel and the Videofreex—and their contemporary descendants. Robé’s nuanced perspective enables him to both celebrate and critique anarchist forays into guerrilla media. Breaking the Spell is an invaluable guide to the contemporary anarchist media landscape that will prove useful for activists as well as scholars.” 
—Richard Porton, author of Film and the Anarchist Imagination

"Breaking the Spell is a highly readable history of U.S. activism against neoliberal capitalism from the perspective of “Anarchist Filmmakers, Videotape Guerrillas, and Digital Ninjas,” the subtitle of the book. Based on ninety interviews, careful readings of hundreds of videos, and his own participant observation, Robé links the development of better-known video makers such as Video Freex, Paper Tiger Television, ActUp and Indymedia with activist media-makers among key protest movements, such as the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit, Oregon’s Cascadia Forest Defenders, the day workers of Voces Mobiles/Mobile Voices in Los Angeles, and the indigenous youth in Out of Your Backpack Media. Underscored by significant tensions of class, race/ethnicity, and gender among the groups and the videos discussed, Robé traces the continuing concerns with radical horizontalism in the making of media and of collective organizing against the state and capitalist institutions. Drawing on autonomist Marxist theory, the profiles clearly demonstrate how media making has become integral to all forms of anti-capitalist mobilizing, as well as to the formation of new collective subjectivities and cultures.” 
—Dorothy Kidd. Professor and Chair, Department of Media Studies, University of San Francisco

"Christopher Robé’s Breaking the Spell takes off where John Downing’s Radical Media leaves us: continuing a history of North American movement-based media to include today's internet, memes, and other forms of radically accessible digital media. In the process, he fills in many critical blanks through a unique method that incorporates ethnographic research with activist media makers, generous close readings of a range of videos, a writer’s fine words detailing history, and a political theorist’s command of anarchist and anarchist-inflected movements since the 1960s. Ever attentive to the contradictions within Left organizations, particularly those built within the network logics of neoliberalism, Robé carefully details both the repetitive exclusions of women, people of color, queers, working people, and people of the global South from many of these otherwise worthy activist traditions, while as carefully pointing to movement-inspired solutions. He demonstrates how messy media activism creates powerful video work where process rules over product, where subjectivity and collectivity are nurtured and developed, and where production and reception are themselves a form of prefigurative politics where video does not merely represent but is activism. A great read for scholars, activists, and media makers alike, Breaking the Spell attends closely to the hard questions of media activism: the role of violence, aesthetics, media literacy, and access within social justice movements and their media.” 
—Alexandra Juhasz, media activist and author of AIDS TV: Identity, Community and Alternative Video

About the Author:

Chris Robé is an associate professor in Film and Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He has published essays on radical media in journals like Jump CutRethinking Marxism, and Journal of Film and Video and written a monograph titled Left of Hollywood: Cinema, Modernism, and the Emergence of U.S. Radical Film Culture. He is also a frequent contributor to the online journal PopMatters.

Product Details:

Author: Chris Robé 
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-62963-233-9
Published: 04/2017
Format: Paperback
Size: 9x6
Page count: 480
Subjects: Political Activism/Media Studies

Cart  

No products

£0.00 Shipping
£0.00 Total

Cart Check out

New products

  • The Yeast of Your Worries
  • Deep Ecology and Anarchism New Edition
The Yeast of Your Worries
A Yeast Infection Survival Handbook
Read more
Deep Ecology and Anarchism New Edition
For the anarchist movement, the 1990s saw a period of defence against...
Read more
And All Around Was Darkness
The latest - and probably best so far - of the anarcho punk literary...
Read more
Changing Anarchism Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age
Changing Anarchism Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age edited...
Read more
Anarchism and Utopianism
Anarchism and Utopianism edited by Laurence Davis and Ruth Kinna
Read more
Tear Down The Walls by John Bowden
A Leeds ABC pamphlet  from 2008 with an introduction by Mark Barnsley
Read more
Working Women and Their Organisations by Joyce Maupin
A history of women in the U.S. trade union movement.
Read more
Bald Cactus *31
The 2014 issue of the long running Uk punk zine Bald Cactus.
Read more
The Autonomous Life? by Nazima Kadir
The autonomous life? Paradoxes of hierarchy and authority in the...
Read more
X Music as a Weapon X
SXE zine including interviews for 7 Generations, Anchor, Giant, Hello...
Read more
Black Flags and Social Movements
Black flags and social movements, A sociological analysis of movement...
Read more
The Politics of Attack by Dr M. Loadenthal
The politics of attack, Communiqués and insurrectionary violence by Dr...
Read more
Anarchy in Athens
Anarchy in Athens An ethnography of militancy, emotions and violence  by...
Read more
Fight Back, Punk, Politics and Resistance
Fight back, Punk, politics and resistance edited by the Subcultures...
Read more
Critical Self-Theory
Towards an Anarchist critical Theory of the Self and Society by Jason...
Read more
Words of a Rebel: Origins and Development
Words of a Rebel: Origins and Development Author:  Kropotkin, Peter...
Read more
Mutual Aid: A Factor Of Evolution by Peter Kropotkin
The Black Rose version of this classic with an introduction by Woodcock. 
Read more
The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control 1917-1921
The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control 1917-1921 by Maurice Brinton
Read more
The Anarchism of Jean Grave: Editor, Journalist and Militant
Traces the controversies and convictions that shaped the life and career...
Read more
Evolution and Environment by Peter Kropotkin
Evolution and Environment by Peter Kropotkin edited and introduced by...
Read more

» All new products