Overwriting the city: graffiti and crisis politics in Athens

Article written by invitation for NATO’s new academic, peer-reviewed journal, Defence Strategic Communications, Vol. 3, Fall 2017.

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To date, most discussions and analyses of strategic communications within the context of International Relations and Security Studies focus on the linguistic realm. Those that do recognise the power and role of images in these domains, particularly as they reflect upon the contemporary image wars waged by IS and other insurgent groups, tend to focus on the virtual realm of social media and globalized news networks.

This article aims instead to articulate a methodological framework for understanding the force and potential of a distinctively spatial and material form of communication: graffiti. Taking Athens as a case study, the article articulates graffiti’s role as a form of strategic communications in areas of social and political crisis, and further suggests its value as a non-violent means of negotiating conflict in areas with limited avenues for democratic expression.