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Session Overview
RN25_06a_IC: Violent Repertoires of Action in Times of Economic Crisis
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Lorenzo Bosi, Scuola Normale Superiore
Session Chair: Maria Kousis, University of Crete
Location: Intercontinental - Arcade I
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Lobby Level

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Form-of-life as a new paradigm for riot research

Rui Coelho

Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy

This paper investigates the concept of form-of-life as a new paradigm for researching riots. Its central argument is that the subjectivity and political participation of rioter collective subjects can only be understood through such lens.

Since Badiou declared that we find ourselves in a time of riots, violent protests are becoming increasingly intense and frequent around the world. Notwithstanding the relevance of the topic, the main academic approaches to this issue are inadequate. Both the structuralist and individual-based perspectives miss the main processes at play in riots, one by relying merely on the description of the macro-social characteristics of riot populations and the other by ignoring the inherently collective nature of riotous subjects.

The key to a new paradigm is the Agambean notion of form-of-life, which some French rioters have started using as a tool to speak about their own political activity. The concept is especially useful when looking at violent protest because of how it accounts both for the subjectivation processes that lead to the constitution of the collective subjects who engage in such actions and its inherent political dynamics as destituent war machines. To illustrate the aforementioned theoretical shift, this paper considers hooligan groups as an example of a riotous form-of-life.

Violent protests in times of crisis, comparing local environmental movements in Greece

Angelos Evangelinidis

University of Graz, Austria

The recent anti-austerity cycle of protest in Greece included many violent events against state authorities. These violent acts, however, did not occur in a vacuum but were a result of loss of legitimacy by both major parties as a result of the crisis. This is more evident in the ad hoc movement actors such as local environmental movements that only rarely resort to violence compared with the traditional social movements. Aim of this paper is to highlight the importance of violent repertoires in terms of efficiency and to provide a contextualization of the wider anti-austerity protests by looking into two NIMBY movements that unfolded under the same timeframe in a comparative perspective: the movement against the sitting of a waste landfill facility in the city of Keratea, and the movement against gold mining in Chalkidiki, in northern Greece. Their decision to use violent tactics, however constrained, was taken in order to have their claims heard and, at the same time, due to the inefficiency of other forms of protest. Local environmental protests are an ideal case-study for examining social movement radicalization processes and repertoires’ evolution due to their relative narrow scope and short time-frame. Although superficially identical the two cases above differ in their outcomes. In the former case, the movement succeeded in achieving its aims, the latter instead was defeated as a result of state repression. By addressing this issue, we contribute to the understanding of the causes and consequences of strategic choices by movements.

The Outcomes of Rioting: Exploring the Effects of The 2014 Gamonal Riots on Emotions and Collective Identity

Alba Arenales

Independent researcher, Spain

After months of mobilization against the renewal of a street in Gamonal, a district of the Northern city of Burgos, Spain, locals experienced four days of rioting in January 2014. The neighbours of this historically working class district were opposed to the construction of a new boulevard because they considered the council was splurging public resources. This was seen as an act of corruption at a time of crisis, when several budget adjustments and cuts were being implemented. Pre-existing social networks as well as a strong local identity were one of the main factors for the development of the riots. The district became a liberated space where emotional dynamics and collective identity played an important role to strength solidarity ties and to reduce repression risks, although some locals were arrested eventually. This paper examines what are the consequences of rioting in the district community. The aim is to focus on analysing the effects of using this form of collective action on activist’s emotional bonds and identity, studying whether the solidarity ties and social bonds that were built remain. To this purpose, I will conduct in-depth interviews three years after riots broke out.

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