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The Canadian media, especially independent media, has played a pivotal role in counterculture insurgency in the last few years. Adbusters, the Canadian magazine, created the hashtag #occupywallstreet in 2011 and called on its network to implement the “Shift in Revolutionary Tactics” that had been seen in Spain with the Indignados and #15M Movement and in Egypt with the Arabian Spring. The call went viral after it was taken up as a cause by Anonymous and other protest groups. The origin of the revolution and the spirit that fired it, of course, was not from the Middle East or from Spain, but from Mexico, from the Zapatistas. The Zapatistas, who initially rose up to protest NAFTA, “envisioned an international activist communications network as an alternative to a corporate-dominated media landscape” (Stringer 5981). The philosophy and practice of Zapatismo has been tremendously admired, imitated and influential in Canada, the United States and elsewhere.
“[T]ransnational Zapatismo has generated new political imaginations and political subjectivities,” and a narrative framework for “radical expressions of political possibility” (Khasnabish 697). These narrative frameworks operate through the use and subversion of memes, easily reproduced ideas that seed the imagination. Memes are an analytical tool and a change agent for creating new narratives as alternative grassroots models come to the fore. The sincerest form of flattery in memetics is imitation and that is what the Zapatista “movement of movements” has generated. It has birthed the self-replication of occupation narratives, “collectives of collectives” (Stringer) and protests all over the world. The #occupy movement invites people to intervene through direct action as a means of telling their own stories. These new locally-situated, global networks are collaborative and leaderless, and put forward indigenous strategies to achieve their ends via media, as with the “Idle No More” movement and “Blue Dot” meme that have recently emerged out of Canada. Focusing on the protest campaigns originating in Canada and Mexico, I will explore how “The Uninvited” are using digital media to tell stories that seek to enable radical change.
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