Aidan McGarry

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2018/2019
discipline Political Science
Reader in International Politics, Loughborough University, London

Research project

Aesthetics of Protest: Visual Culture, Performance and Social Media


Recent years have seen a large increase in the number of protests around the world which have challenged economic institutions and political practices, including the Arab Spring, Occupy movements, pro-democracy movements, pro-women demonstrations, and anti-austerity movements across Europe. This project focuses on the 2013 protests in Turkey in Gezi Park, Istanbul. The Gezi Park protest serve as a lens through which to explore the relationship between art, visual culture, protest, and social media. This project examines the aesthetics of protest, in particular, how protestors use social media to communicate their messages to the public and how they attempt to engage the public, politicians and fellow protestors. Protestors have a range of options open to them in order to have their voice heard and increasingly protestors use aesthetics in order to communicate their ideas. This project looks at protest aesthetics, which we consider to be the visual, material, textual and performative elements of protest, such as images, symbols, graffiti, clothes, art, but also to include other elements such as forms of rhetoric, slang, humour, slogans, as well as the choreography of protest actions in public spaces.


Through the use of social media, protestors have been able to create an alternative space for people to engage with politics that is, in principle, more inclusive and participatory than traditional politics. The use of social media allows people to share ideas on protest activity and deliberate with one another in an online environment. What was significant about the protests in Turkey was how images were shared across social media platforms in order to communicate the messages of the protestors, to unite the public and to challenge the unpopular policies of the government which had provoked the protests in the first place. The project explores how the public and politicians in Turkey interpreted protest aesthetics and if they attached any significance to particular protest aesthetics.


The 2013 protests in Turkey are notable because protestors inhabited public spaces in urban areas and used public spaces to communicate their ideas, emotions, and interests to the public in order to foster support and raise political awareness of issues. However, the power of the protestors was strengthened by social media platforms where members of the public, who were sympathetic with the protestors or lived in a different part of the country or beyond, did not have to occupy the same physical public space, but could engage and deliberate with one another through social networking sites and blogs. Social media platforms are increasingly an interactive space which form part of the political world where people can engage with one another and potentially become powerful. This project explores the visual and performative component of protest during a significant mobilisation in a major city.




Aidan McGarry is a Reader in International Politics at the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University, London. He holds a PhD in Politics from Queen’s University, Belfast. He was Principal Investigator of an AHRC funded international project 'The Aesthetics of Protest: Visual Culture and Communication in Turkey’ ( which ran from 2016-2018.

Aidan McGarry research focuses on social movements, political participation, and marginalised communities, particularly Roma. 


Selected publications


Romaphobia: The Last Acceptable Racism, Zed, London, 2017.


'Protest, Pride and Prejudice: Public Space, Visibility and Marginalization in Post-Socialist Europe', Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 49, 2016, pp. 269-277.


The Identity Dilemma: Social Movements and Collective Identity, with J. Jasper (eds), Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 2015.


The Politics and Discourses of Migration in Europe, with Korkut et al. (eds), Palgrave, New York, 2013.


Who Speaks for Roma? Political representation of a Transnational Minority, Continuum, London, 2010.






junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Psychology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Political Science
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Anthropology
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Archaeology