Thursday, March 16, 2017
Feminists are not the only ones using social media to organize for human rights. A new study of the Harry Potter Alliance delves into the ways in which youth (and other Harry Potter fans) are using alternative approaches to organizing for human rights. Founded in 2005, the HPA has engaged in activism ranging from voter registration drives to campaigns for corporate responsibility. The HPA and other examples of fan activism are analyzed in the new book Cultural Jamming: Activism and the Art of Cultural Resistance. As Henry Jenkins and his co-authors note in their insightful review of the book, "[p]inning political and social causes to Harry Potter works because this content world has a large following, is familiar to an even larger number of people, has its own built-in mechanisms for generating publicity, and is apt to attract many subsequent waves of media interest. Harry Potter constitutes a form of cultural currency that channels fans’ emotional investments and wider public interest in ways that can carry HPA’s messages to many who would not otherwise hear them."
With human rights under attack domestically and internationally, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series and an activist in her own right, has spoken out repeatedly. It's reassuring to know that she is backed up by a growing Dumbledore's army of youth activists in the HPA.