No ‘Insoreckshan’ in the Global City? Representations of London Rioting, 1981 and 2011

In: London post-2010 in British Literature and Culture

The chapter compares the different discursive interpretations of two instances of the violent outbreak of dissent in London: the Brixton Riots of 1981 and the London Riots of 2011. Both instances were large events of social unrest that started in the capital and reverberated throughout England. While poetic representations of the Brixton riots were important for the representation of the riots as a struggle about community and identity, the neoliberal space of London as a ‘global city’ saturated by surveillance technology was instrumental in representing rioters of 2011 as post-political individuals. The use of surveillance camera footage in television reporting of the events played a defining role in the largely dismissive interpretative idioms of the 2011 events in contrast to the now historically canonised black protest of Brixton in 1981.