Policing the Romantic Crowd …

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Only a few days till the 30th Chaos Computer Congress in Hamburg #30C3, where I’ll be talking with @matusound on Romantic literature, public space/high-density environments, visual analysis and surveillance – “Policing the Romantic Crowd” for short. (See Violet Blue’s ZDNet blog on the CCC’s history and line-up.)

With kinetic protests in Hamburg over the weekend (7,000 in the streets protesting against plans to carry out evictions at squatted theatre Rote Flora, a rallying point for activists), and student demonstrations this month in London (#copsoffcampus), it’s timely to explore what the Romantics’ understanding of crowds – the “push”, in Romantic slang – has to contribute to current debates about politics and public space.

Peterloo Massacre, Manchester 1819

The Romantic era was an age of crowds – from revolutionary Parisian mobs to the enormous 60,000-300,000-strong gatherings in London and Manchester in the Summer and Autumn of 1819 protesting against the price of bread, corrupt politicians and lack of parliamentary representation. What animated crowds? How was information transmitted across them? What was the legal status of the individual in the “push”? And how did art and literature model …read more

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