Vernacular Spaces in the Year of Dreams: A Comparison Between Occupy Wall Street and the Egyptian Revolution
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The year 2011 was a year of dreams. From the revolutionaries in the Arab Spring to the occupiers of Wall Street, people around the world organized in order to find alternative ways of living. However, they did not do so in a vacuum. Protesters were part of the same international network of activists who routinely shared tactics, theories, and footage from their endeavors. They were also part of the same wave of protests against state oppression and the inequalities of capitalism. In popular conception, these occupations were seen as a disappointment, for they either failed to enact change, or failed to sustain change. However, their value lies in the short-lived experiments they participated in: direct democracy, consensus politics, tending to people’s needs, and dreaming of alternative ways of life outside of the state’s grasp. By asking the research question of Are the protest movements of Occupy Wall Street and the Egyptian Revolution part of the same global occupation movement?, this thesis will look at two events from the year 2011: the Egyptian Revolution, and Occupy Wall Street. Through an ideal-type comparison I will explore if both these events created and operated within vernacular spaces, an ideal-type environment in which demonstrators attempted to return public spaces to the people, and reshape the relations they had with each other. This has the opportunity of being a learning opportunity both for scholars interested in global protest movements, and for activists on the ground willing to draw inspiration from one another.