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Re-conceptualising Political Alienation

On Spectators, Spectacles and Public Protests

Anthony Lawrence A. Borja

Politics usually takes the form of brawls ranging from the verbal and civilised, to the physical and savage, if not deadly encounters. These public engagements are political spectacles projecting narratives that are attractive to people who share the sentiments made public in these spectacles, and a following of spectators that, in sustaining their spectatorship, keeps the spectacle in its status. I note that spectators are attached and concerned with the narratives (i.e.from the causes and actors involved to the eventual results) behind and projected by such spectacles, and that this attachment in turn defines and sustains their spectatorship. Political alienation is a condition shared by both the apathetic and spectators. However the case of spectators is more complex and merits closer analysis in order to attain an encompassing understanding of political alienation. In this article, I will argue and illustrate that political alienation must be understood as a sustainable process constituted and driven by sustained spectatorship (i.e.sustained relationship between spectators and a political spectacle) made possible by a habitus of disempowerment in everyday life.

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’Tis but a Habit in an Unconsolidated Democracy

Habitual Voting, Political Alienation and Spectatorship

Anthony Lawrence A. Borja

The electoral process can be considered as one basic component of a democracy and for this reason one way to evaluate the progress of a democratisation project is by looking at the development of this civic practice in terms of both quantity (voter turnout) and quality (voters’ preferences). Focusing on the former, specifically the impact of political alienation on electoral participation as voter turnout this article will look at the challenges to democratisation posed by electoral politics. From the case of electoral participation in the Philippines, I ask the question: What is the relationship between political alienation and voter turnout in the context of the latter enjoying relatively high and sustained rates? Through a synthesis between the notions of political spectatorship, habitual voting and the learning approach towards analysing voter behaviour, I argue that electoral participation is a disempowered mode of participation resulting from the interdependence of sustained spectatorship and habitual voting.

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A. Anthony, Tess S. Skadegård Thorsen, Steen Ledet Christiansen and Carmela Garritano

Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton, eds., Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017), 419 pp. ISBN: 9780262036603 (hardback, $49.95)

Katharina Lindner, Film Bodies: Queer Feminist Encounters with Gender and Sexuality in Cinema (London: I. B. Tauris, 2018), 272 pp. ISBN: 9781784536244 (hardback, £72)

Saige Walton, Cinema’s Baroque Flesh: Film, Phenomenology, and the Art of Entanglement (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016), 280 pp. ISBN 978 90 8964 951 5 (hardback, €95)

Marietta Kesting, Affective Images: Post-apartheid Documentary Perspectives (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2017). vi +278pp. ISBN: 9781438467856 (hardback, $95); ISBN: 9781438467849 (paperback, $29.95)