The global icon is an omnipresent but poorly understood element of mass culture. This book asks why audiences around the world have embraced a small number of iconic figures and what this tells us about cross-border, trans-cultural relations since the Cold War. Prestholdt addresses these questions by examining one type of figure: the 'anti-system' icon. These popular icons are symbols of alienation and aspiration that have been integrated into diverse political and consumer cultures. To illustrate these points the book examines four of the most evocative and controversial figures of the past fifty years: Ernesto Che Guevara, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur and Osama bin Laden. Each has embodied a convergence of dissent, cultural politics and consumerism, yet the popularity of each reveals the dissonance between shared, global references and locally contingent traditions. By examining four very different figures, Icons of Dissent offers new insights into transnational symbolic idioms, the mutability of common references and the commodification of political sentiment in the contemporary world.
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Jeremy Prestholdt is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego and author of Domesticating the World: African Consumerism and the Genealogies of Globalization.
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