Creative expressions of protest
: challenging reductive perceptions of the Algerian Hirak through street art, photography and music video published on Instagram and YouTube

  • Maggie L Nicoll

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)


This study provides an analysis of photography, street art and music relating to the Algerian Hirak protests of 2019-2020. It asks: how do art and music relating to the Hirak challenge reductive perceptions of the movement? What role do Instagram and YouTube play in the influence and dissemination of these works? The research was motivated by the need to examine alternative and nuanced representations of the movement, combined with the growing importance of analysing how social media platforms are changing the ways we view art, listen to music, and relate to one another. It combines Postcolonial theory, specifically Edouard Glissant’s notion of opacité, with Symbolic Interactionism theory applied to the cyberspace, to analyse how artists point to the irreducible diversity and collective nature of the Hirak, and the ways that social media platforms necessarily involve the audience and provide them with additional information beyond the frame. It reveals that artists and musicians challenge reductive perceptions of the movement through diverse aesthetic and audiovisual techniques, and that the specific architecture of the Instagram and YouTube platforms affect how the works are consumed, understood, and discussed by their audiences. It also finds that music videos on YouTube can contribute to stereotypes while simultaneously breaking others down. The study looks first at the photographic series Algérie Vue d’en Bas (2015-) by Ahmed Ait Issad and the street art project La Main du Peuple (2015-) by Merine Hadj Abderrahmane, both of which are exhibited on Instagram. It then moves on to a discussion of music videos on YouTube, starting with Allo le Système ! (2019) by Raja Meziane, then Liberté (2019) by Soolking featuring Ouled el Bahdja, and finally Libérez l’Algérie (2019) by various artists.
Date of Award21 Jan 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorSiobhan M Shilton (Supervisor) & Ruth A L Bush (Supervisor)

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