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

Co-Supervisor: Christian Schmid (ETH Zürich)



The research of this PhD-project combines various strands of work and research: Geuder’s interest in politics, protests, images and space as well as in urban spaces of the global South.

After having worked as a teacher in Ghana for one year, Geuder studied Sociology and Political Sciences at the University of Konstanz. Working for Prof. Andreas Reckwitz a profound interest of post-modern and cultural social theory developed. With the M.A. in African Studies at the University of Basel Geuder further focused his interests and expanded his methodological skill by carrying out a three month enduring field research in Mali in 2012. This resulted in the founding of the art collective KaYelema in Bamako – whose work was unfortunately cut by the Military Coup d’Etat in March 2012 – and his Master-Thesis about the Transformation of Urban Spaces in Bamako. In a photographic exhibition in Vienna in 2013 Geuder presented some of the visual materials. Further on he was an active member of the African Cinema Basel project, which was initiated to stage screenings of African film productions.

Based on these experiences Jacob Geuder started to develop his research project since 2014, including journeys to Brazil and South Africa. Supported by a scholarship of the Graduate School of Social Sciences and a position as assistant of Elisio Macamo, Geuder now works on his dissertation.



Geuder, Jacob (2015): „Transformation and Production of urban spaces in Bamako, Mali“, in: Afonso, Aline (ed.), Informality and Urbanisation in African Contetxs: ANlyzing Economic and Social Impacts, Centro de Estudos Internacionais do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, p. 29-50.


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.


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