Jacob Geuder: Images of Movements – YouTube and the Right to the City


This dissertation examines how digital and urban contexts contribute to the production of space in recent protest events in Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town. The digital side of protests is represented by an analysis of the social media platform YouTube and uploaded videos that portray protest events. The urban side of the research question is tackled through case studies of Right to the City protests in Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town. The goal of this PhD-research is to develop a comprehensive and systematic understanding of how digital-urban-nexuses are shaping and being shaped through social practices of protesting. 

Based on Henri Lefebvre’s theory of the Production of Space an analysis of spatial politics and the notion of centrality is adopted to claim that contemporary protests need to occupy centrality in digital as well as in urban spaces to effectively articulate their political demands. To test and substantiate this claim the empirical analysis will proceed in three steps: Firstly, YouTube is critically analyzed as a dispositive to describe more precisely how digital divide, personalization strategies, ideology and commercial interests affect what can be seen on the video-platform. Secondly, I employ the technique of video-analysis to reveal how right to the city-protests are portrayed in the audiovisual discourses of YouTube-videos. Thirdly, I conduct ethnographic research in case studies in Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro to relate the social practices and contexts of particular Right to the city-protests to their portrayal on YouTube. 
Therefore this qualitative sociological study draws on numerous fields of knowledge –  urban studies, media and internet studies, social movement studies – while simultaneously contributing to a relatively fresh field of academic research. The theoretical focus is complemented by a qualitative methodology – including dispositive-analysis, video-analysis, ethnographic research and interviews – precisely tailored towards the object of research. 

Supervisor: Elisio Macamo (Uni Basel)
Co-Supervisor: Christian Schmid (ETH Zürich)


Jacob Geuder holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences from the University of Konstanz and a MA in African Studies from the University of Basel. As student assistant and tutor he worked for Andreas Reckwitz. Since 2010 in Basel he co-imitated the program “African Cinema” that regularly organized public film screening. His field research for the MA Thesis on urban transformations in Bamako brought him to Mali in 2012. There he became founding member of the cart collective “KaYelema”, which had to stop its activites due to military coup in March 2012. These experiences were re-worked in the exhibition “Bamako Everyday” which he presented 2013 in Vienna.

In 2014 Geuder started the preparations for his dissertation “Images of Movements – YouTube and the Right to the City”, which is funded by the Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft Basel. Currently working at the Centre for African Studies as assistant of Elísio Macamo he further pursues his research interest in critical urban studies in the ‘Global South’. Extended field research and academic sojourns have brought him to Ghana, Mali, Portugal, Brazil and South Africa.


Alcântara, Livia / Geuder, Jacob (under review): “(Urban) Space, Media and Protests: A Relational Approach”, in: Fischer, Robert / Bauer, Jenny, Perspectives on Henri Lefebvre. Theory, Practices and (Re-)Readings, De Gruyter.

Geuder; Jacob (in process) “The Right to the City ”, in: Puccarieli, Marta Siegenthaler, Fiona et al. (under review): Public Art in Africa. Art and urban transformations in Douala, Metispresse.

Geuder, Jacob (2016): Digitale Ambivalenzen - Medienaktivismus in Rio de Janeiro, in: Widerspruch, Heft 67.  http://www.widerspruch.ch/widerspruch-67/inhaltsverzeichnis

Geuder, Jacob (2015): „Transformation and Production of urban spaces in Bamako, Mali“, in: Afonso, Aline (ed.), Informality and Urbanisation in African Contetxs: Analyzing Economic and Social Impacts, Centro de Estudos Internacionais do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, p. 29-50. http://cei.iscte-iul.pt/publicacao/informality-and-urbanisation-in-african-contexts/  

Geuder, Jacob (2013): Photography in „Mali – Impressions of the current crisis“, in: Till Förster/ Lucy Köchlin (ed.), Basel Papers on Political Transformation, Special edition, 02/2013. https://ethnologie.unibas.ch/fileadmin/ethnologie/user_upload/redaktion/Research/Publications/Basel_Papers_No_5_Mali.pdf  

Geuder, Jacob (2012): „Was ist eigentlich afrikanisches Kino...?“, in: Zentrum für Afrikastudien Basel und Afrika-Komitee (ed.), Afrika-Bulletin, Nr. 144, 02/2012.



“A posição do pesquisador – uma reflexão num campo politico”, Presentation at the yearly conference of the Insituto de Estudos Sociais e Politicos, Rio de Janeiro 12/2015.

 “The YouTube Dispositive: Right to the city protests in YouTube videos”, Panel: Right to the City, urban conditions, and experiences of Sub-Sahara Africa, 6th European Conference on African Studies (ECAS), Paris 07/2015.

“Portraying the Right to the city: Representations of urban protests in YouTube-videos”, Panel: Radical Memories - Imagined Futures. Practices of History-Making and Prefiguration in Social Movements, 12th Conference of Société International d’Ethnologie et de Folklore (SIEF), Zagreb 06/2015.

„Images of Movements: The mutual infiltration of urban and digital spaces in online-videos“, Swiss Researching Africa Days, Bern 10/2014.

„Images of movements: The art of resistance and its representation in videos of protests“, Workshop Regionalizing African Civil Societies, Uppsala 10/2014.

„The Transformation of urban Spaces in Bamako“, 5th European Conference on African Studies (ECAS), Lissabon 06/2013.

„Über die Herausforderung Raumtransformationen in Bamako zu beschreiben“, Research Colloquium of Institut of Sociology, Universität Basel 04/2013.

„Durch das Auges des „weissen Manns“: Der „dunkle Kontinent“ im Farbfilm“, Eikones Summerschool, Basel 9/2012.

„Gebannte Erinnerungen“, Workshops „Erinnerungsorte, Kollektivsymbole und Identität“, University of Yerevan 03/2009.


Supervisors: Elisio Macamo (Uni Basel)
Christian Schmid (ETH Zürich)

Duration: 2014 - 

contact: jacob.geuder-at-unibas.ch 

Poster PhD Project