TIME Person of the Year: The Protester

Tunisian Revolution via cjb22 on flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/cjb22222222/5373435731/

It began on December 17th, 2010, when 26-year-old street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi drenched himself in paint thinner and lit a match in front of the provincial-capital building in Tunisia. Mannoubia Bouazizi stated, “My son set himself on fire for dignity.” Her 16-year-old daughter added, “In Tunisia, dignity is more important than bread.”

All over the world, the protestors of 2011 have stood-up for fairness and freedom. “Do-it-yourself democratic politics became globalized, and a real live protest went massively viral.” Authoritarian acts of violence and forceful evictions from “” squares further exposed what the protestors were fighting for. In effort to honor the individuals who have made the greatest impact on our world during these past twelve months, TIME has named the 2011 person of the year as “The Protester”.

Day 36 Occupy Wall Street © David Shankbone

“Public” space has played an important role in this fight for social justice. Occupy Wall Street’s (OWS) eviction from the privately owned public space (POPS) Zuccotti Park, raised awareness on the privatization of the city and the illusion of being public. Architects became actively involved, assisting the development of temporary cities to support the movement, while questioning the “cult of homeownership” and the architect’s role in evolving the idea of housing.

Day 60 Occupy Wall Street © David Shankbone

“Among the ruins left behind by the eviction of bodies and the demolition of tents in lower Manhattan are the ruins of what the philosopher Hannah Arendt called the “space of public appearance.” Ever since the ancient Greeks, who served as Arendt’s model, the right to participate in this space has been conditional on the possession of personal wealth. One of the many contradictory functions of the modern state, addressed politically by unionized workers and by civil rights activists alike, has been to redistribute wealth — that is, to mediate the distribution of resources, services, and value. Any structural alternative must ultimately come to terms with this mediating function.” – Design Observer: Occupy: The Day After

Tanks in front of the Qasba in Tunisia © Gladys Martínez López

Citizens across the world continue to fight for social justice, occupying the streets and inhabiting public space in efforts to achieve significant change. Coverage of the indignados taking back Puerta del Sol in Madrid exclaimed, “The sun has risen. The people cried. The square is ours.”

Indignados taking back the square in Madrid © Jesus Solana

Follow this link to the must-read TIME Cover Story: The Protestor.

Reference: TIME, Design Observer: What Architecture Can Do, Design Observer: The Day AftertakeTHEsquare.net

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "TIME Person of the Year: The Protester" 15 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=192668>
  • Non Sequitur

    Certainly there are plenty more deserving people then this anthropomorphism of large scale ignorance of reality.

    • Sam

      What? You want to give the title to Mark Zuckerberg again?

  • Daniel

    I think that comparing the actions of Bouazizi (a good man, who sacrificed himself to rally people against actual oppresion) with those of protestors from the occupy wallstreet mov. (protest for the sake of it without clear goals) is insulting to his memory.

  • godryk

    I don’t know, if you try to think about the year 2011 as a whole, this has been the big thing in the news all these months. I mean, people like Hitler and Stalin, among others, have been declared Person of the Year by Time Magazine, it’s a matter impact in the media.

  • Claire Tranter

    It’s a very short article – you should read the whole TIME piece because it goes over the world wide protests.


  • archi

    I understand the vote was overwhelming: 99% I believe…

  • louis

    i would like to agree with this if the article actually includes all the protests around the world for all the different reasons. but coming from Time i have a feeling the emphasis is only on the protests they support.

    • louis

      after glancing through the article the only complaint i would have is the emphasis on the occupy movement in America. if they are going to mention protests in America you have to at least recognize the Tea Party protests. i guess only the protestors that break laws and vandalize get attention.

      • Tim

        I guess they didn’t want to show support for a racist organization that inspired a libertarian to shoot a congresswoman in the head.

        Go figure.

      • louis

        ha nothing you just said was true. somehow this racist organization that supports violence managed to have 0 arrests while they were protesting while the peaceful occupy protests had hundreds of violent arrests and attacks. makes you wonder huh?

  • Tim

    It’s not at all true that the Tea Party had zero arrests.

    Just this week the leader of Tea Party Patriots (the biggest Tea Party group in the nation) was arrested and charged with a felony for illegally trying to bring a gun and ammo onto a plane.

    That’s not to mention the white supremacists, militia members, shooters, and other Tea Party criminals that have been arrested for the illegal violent activity over the last 4 years.

    Instances like throwing rocks through Democratic office windows, cutting the gas line to a Democratic congressman’s brother’s home out of retaliation in an attempt to murder them… etc.

    And then there are the arrests for threatening to assassinate the president.

    Far far more Tea Party conservatives have been arrested for actual gun charges, attempted murders, and violence than any anti-Wall Street supporters.

    • louis

      so if i find a criminal that supports/voted for Obama does that mean that Obama is the same as them?

      • Tim

        If they murdered people over political reasons, that makes them a terrorist. That’s the definition. Those are the people we’re talking about in the Tea Party. Nobody has been murdered in America in support of Barack Obama. Several Tea Partiers have tried to murder others in hatred of him though.

        You’re talking about common criminals, but that has nothing to do with politics. The Tea Party has tons of those as well. Meth cookers, illegal gun runners, those who don’t pay alimony, those who cheat on their taxes, real estate agents who’ve been arrested for their corrupt mortgage scams, etc.

        Now that you lost your argument, don’t try and change the subject by talking about non-political criminality. You’re not fooling anyone.

  • louis

    didnt lose the argument or change the subject, i was pointing out your flawed logic. the point of my comments which you failed to notice was that if they are going to name protestors the people of the year then they should name all protestors not just the ones they like. occupy was all about equality so its strange that they would get unequal attention. your outrageous comments like the tea party people are terrorists shows how ignorant you are and also tells me to stop arguing with you because if you argue with an idiot by the end of the argument people cant tell who the idiot is anymore. you’re a lost cause. open your eyes and see the whole world not just what you want to see.

    • Tim

      The point of your comment was propped up by the claims you made, which were wrong. The Tea Party has had more arrests for violent shootings, attempted murder, and gun related violence, as expected – because it’s a white supremacist front group, as we all said it was. And now it has about the same approval rating as George Bush because of their own racist behavior. If the person of the year had been “soldiers,” we wouldn’t have had to include genocidal soldiers in that category. If Time believes the Tea Party to be a racist corrosive group of whackos, they don’t have to include them in their article if they don’t want to. And good for them for not doing so. The Tea Party wasn’t even important this year. They were all the rage last year and the year before. This was the year of real protesters, not racist white supremacist Wall Street front groups like the Tea Party.

  • louis

    you are hysterical, “The Tea Party has had more arrests for violent shootings” “attempted murder” “gun related violence” you are so full of it, there is no possible way for anyone to know things like that since they are speculative and so indirect they cant be proven. the areas that can be proven like arrests at the protest rallies and damage done by the protestors directly prove that the occupy protestors are more violent. so you can continue to make up stories and facts to help yourself sleep at night. All you want to do is bash the tea party but defending the tea party isn’t even my point. Any non-biased person would be able to understand the inclusion of both sides of an issue gives a better understanding of the whole. even if you dont agree with the tea party they had a large impact the media and i would say influenced the occupy protestors to some degree. They deserve to be part of the story, ignoring them makes the article less valid. its simple.

    • Tim

      I can say without doubt that more Tea Party nuts have been arrested for those crimes. Because I know of at least a few, and no Occupy protesters have been arrested for attempted murder.

      It’s just math. Violent conservatives get angry and they try to kill people, it’s what they do. It’s no big mystery.

      And no. Not every issue has two legitimate sides. The Germans didn’t have a legitimate argument in WWII.

      It’s time to stop pretending that intelligent people have to legitimize the crazy hateful racist criminal side of things.