Protest has been in and out of fashion throughout history, in latter years it appears to have come into vogue again. It’s an continues to be a useful tool for sociologists and social historians to study.
Documentaries like We Are Many, which I blogged about in this post yesterday, are one way of preserving this social history – (as are blog posts themselves). Another way is the one being used by The Guardian at the moment, they have an essay writing competition going on where writers who were involved in protest during 2012 are invited to submit up to 5000 words on their experience. The winner will see their work published as part of the Guardian Shorts series of ebooks.
Then you can look back at the archives for flyers, papers and so one. One really useful resource for this type of thing is SchNEWS whose books give a history of the anarchist collectives work.
Then there are the books which retell the stories and sometimes seek to analyse what it all means. There is a small network of independent bookshops and presses which are particularly useful for this type of thing. One I can highly recommend is The People’s Bookshop in Durham, which I am glad is hanging on in there – all be it on reduced opening hours. They have a great collection and do online ordering if you go the website.
One thing I love about studying social movements, which I’ve done academically from time to time, is the accessibility of the research material. My undergrad dissertation on the opposition to the 1994 Criminal Justice Act involved following the NME for months, for example, (as well as collecting material at Glastonbury and elsewhere).
I hope that the material which the Guardian collects through this competition will be archived appropriately and that one day the whole set of stories they contain will be made available.