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Suggestion, Translation, Transposition

Semiotic Reflections on Collective Action in the Middle East and Beyond

Peyman Vahabzadeh

Using a semiotic approach, this paper seeks to identify the connections between Iran’s Green Movement, the Arab Spring, and the Occupy Movement. The concept of suggestion refers to the unintended releasing of possibilities for action beyond the original frames a movement. This is done through the production of new slogans and collective actions relating to them. Once ‘suggestion’ allows for a specific mode of acting to be taken outside of its original ambit and into a new context, action is ‘translated’ into the ‘language’ of new contexts and mandates. ‘Suggestion’ and ‘translation’ can lead to the ‘transposition’ of a specific collective action into a new context that captures the imagination of the activists. By drawing on the evidence and instances in the Green Movement, the Arab Spring, and the Occupy Movement, it is hoped, we can understand how movements affect each other beyond their actors’ intentions.