Symbolic Reclamations

There may be instances where the government or other organizations choose to participate in activities with which you don’t agree. When this happens, violent protests are often not the answer. These types of protests will simply cause problems for everyone involved. Instead, symbolic reclamations can let the government or organization know that you and your organization or institution do not agree with the actions they are taking. These protests are harmless and can be far more effective.

How It Works

Symbolic reclamation refers to the use of land and other symbolic gestures related to the land to protest against an action or proposed action by the government or an organization. An organization or institution that wishes to protest against this action may use an alternative action, such as planting trees or other plants or making use of the land for something else more constructive and acceptable. These actions dispute the intended use of the land and showing the organization that the area can be put to better use instead.

What You Can Do

If you decide the symbolic reclamation is the right action to dispute the use of specific land, you must know what you can do. If the land is public land, you and your organization or institution can plant trees or a garden. Another option is to put up a building that will be used for the good of the community to show that the area should be used for something else. For instance, if the city wants to create a landfill in an open space, an organization can put up playground equipment to show that the area would better serve the community as a safe place to play for children.

Historical Example

Symbolic reclamation has been used in history to take a stand against issues with which people did not agree. For instance, in 1962 a group in Britain wanted to protest against the creation of nuclear weapons. To protest, they planted trees along the border of the Royal Air Force base in Honington, England. This showed the government the concern of the group over the creation of these weapons. They felt the land could be put to better use.

The use of symbolic reclamation allows you to show the government or another organization how you feel about the actions they are taking or want to take. You can use this symbolism to get your ideas across without the typical protests, including violent ones. Instead, you will provide a useful service to others while portraying an important message.

Continue reading the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.

Also check out The Politics of Nonviolent Action Part One / Part Two / Part Three.

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