The Joker to Guy Fawkes: why protesters around the world are wearing the same masks
From Hong Kong to Chile and from Lebanon to Iraq, people around the world are taking to the streets in protest against their leaders, writes Dr Aidan McGarry.
Across these myriad different protest movements – with their different contexts, histories and goals – people are wearing the same masks. The grinning faces of Guy Fawkes from the film V for Vendetta and of the Joker have become ubiquitous. But why?
A mask is a form of self-presentation, it is the face we choose to show to others.
Masks have been used by humans for millennia for a variety of purposes from rituals to theatrical performances in order to entertain, to protect and to disguise.
Protesters have long used masks, from demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq to protests against the World Trade Organisation summits in the 1990s
They have a communicative and performative power to help protesters make demands, raise awareness and offer a degree of protection.
A mask is useful in authoritarian regimes, providing a degree of anonymity for those taking to the streets.
Authorities in Hong Kong banned the use of masks in early October, arguing that they nullify the facial recognition technology used to identify and prosecute protesters.
This led protesters to engage in creative ways to subvert the law including using hair to disguise their faces.
Read the full piece by Dr Aidan McGarry, of Loughborough University London, in the Conversation, here.
View the press release on the Loughborough University website for further information and resources.
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.
It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey.
Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 8th in The UK Complete University Guide 2020.
Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.
Specialising exclusively in postgraduate-level study, Loughborough University London is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers cutting-edge master’s and PhD degrees, as well as business collaboration, research and enterprise opportunities.
The seven specialist institutes at Loughborough University London include: Design Innovation, Digital Technologies, Diplomacy and International Governance, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, International Management, Media and Creative Industries, and Sport Business. Close industry partnerships with a wealth of leading businesses and creative organisations means teaching and learning is informed by real-life challenges and driven by true industry pressures.