Disturbing Binaries in Political Thought: Silence as Political Activism

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‘Keeping silent’ can be a meaningful political event, a form of political activism that generates new political subjectivities and alters existing realities by reconfiguring power relations. To flesh out this argument, this paper attends to a particular silent protest and affirms it as a tactic employed by an emergent political collectivity to make itself perceptible, declare an injustice and challenge institutional power. As such, the silent event under scrutiny does not merely invite a turning of our attention to a practice that breaks the association of the political subject with the speaking subject; it also invites a reconsideration of what we are accustomed to accept as political activism. ‘Keeping silent’ is a critical practice, indeed, because it manifests an alternative possibility of being and acting; in so doing, it disrupts established patterns of thought and practice, and more specifically the rigid distinction between speech and silence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-522
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Movement Studies
Issue number5
Early online date11 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2015


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