Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN25_08: Discourse and social movements
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Lorenzo Bosi, Scuola Normale Superiore
Location: GM.330
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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Racist Riots and Antifascist Activism – A Biographical Approach to the Production of Meaning in Social Movements

Dimitra Barbara Kostimpas

LMU Munich, Germany

At the beginning of the 1990s, Germany experienced anti-refugee rhetorics and a series of racist violence. The infamous xenophobic riot in Rostock-Lichtenhagen (Germany) in August 1992, which targeted a refugee shelter and a home for Vietnamese contract workers, can be understood as a significant "discursive event" (Jäger). What meaning did this incident have for ‘antifascist’ activists? What frames (Goffman; Snow) can be identified as central to this sort of activism? Biographical interviews with persons born 1968-1976 from West Germany were conducted and analyzed. The biographical approach allows the reconstruction of individual and collective histories of framing processes. The auto-biographers describe their activism as devotional commitment integrated to an ethical lifestyle – a form of ‘first person politics’ and subjectivation of the political. The conflict field of anti-fascist movement is constituted by the genuine opposition to widespread right-wing ideologies, as well as organized neo-fascism. In addition, the police is perceived as a second antagonist. But this enmity is rather learnt than ideological, i.e. a sedimentated experience with the police over years of activist careers in different movement contexts (from anti-nuclear, anti-militarist, autonomist to anti-fascist activism).

Emergence of Anti-gender Campaigns in Czechia and Poland

Eva Svatonova

Aarhus University, Denmark

While there is a burgeoning literature describing the diverse forms, in which the discourses produced and reproduced by the so-called anti-gender campaigners (Kuhar&Paternotte 2017) emerged in different national contexts, there are only few scholars who approached (Lavizzari&Prearo 2018) or suggested to approach (Roggeband 2018) this quite recent phenomenon from a social movement theory perspective. The notion of “gender ideology” - used as an umbrella term by diverse network of actors to intentionally misinterpret feminist, queer and gender theory in order to justify discrimination against women and LGBT+ minorities (Kane 2018) - that these campaigns claim to oppose, has been introduced by Vatican in the mid-1990s and has gained popularity in Europe over last 15 years. However, the campaigns occurred in different national contexts in different forms and emerged at different period of times. While in Czechia, the discourse opposing “gender ideology” has emerged during last two years, in its neighboring country Poland the pioneers of the campaigns occurred already in 2009 (Graff&Kolorczuk 2017). To provide a better understanding why and when these campaigns emerged in these two post-Soviet, East-Central European countries and how they differ, I combine methods of social network analysis and qualitative content analysis of public speeches, manifestos and official documents published on the websites of grassroots organizations, blogs and newspaper articles that help to disentangle the relational dynamics of the campaigns and the diffusion of their frames.

History Retweeting. Renegotiating The "Fascism-Antifascism" Dichotomy In The Italian Twittersphere

Elena Pavan1, Andrea Rapini2

1University of Trento, Italy; 2University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

In this paper, we investigate how the recent wave of antifascist mobilization in Italy affected the development of a public discourse in which the dichotomy “fascism-antifascism” has once more become the object of a symbolic struggle. We look particularly at the public discourse that developed within the Italian Twittersphere in February 2018 soon after the random shooting of six non-white people by Luca Traini, a neofascist claiming to act to avenge the murder of a young girl for which three Nigerians were charged. Through the combined use of semantic network analysis and qualitative content analysis of original tweets, we examine continuities and changes in the structural position and the symbolic role played by the “fascism-antifascism” dichotomy in the broader online discussion. Our results suggest that the shooting puts the “fascism-antifascism” dichotomy at the core of the discussion and triggers its renegotiation in light of the specificities of the current Italian political situation. Conversely, the mobilization process makes of “antifascism” the true epicenter of the discussion but at the intersection between two opposite trends. On the one hand, the attempt to delegitimize antifascist resistance, either by stressing violent degenerations of ongoing demonstrations or by making a strategic use of the past recalling memories of the foibe massacres. On the other hand, the collective endeavor to reaffirm the legitimacy and the necessity of antifascism as an antidote to the persistence of a fascist and colonial archive rooted in the history of the country but resurging to a new prominence within its current political landscape.

Feminist Strikes In Barcelona: An Ongoing Dispute Of Contentious Discursive Practices

Tayrine Dias

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain

On March 8, 2018, massive mobilizations took place in more than a hundred cities across Spain, in which hundreds of thousands went to the streets of Madrid and Barcelona. The country was one of the epicenters of a transnational campaign calling for feminist/women’s strikes and protests in at least 170 countries. For March 8, 2019, activists have called for a strike in Spain, Germany, Peru, Argentina among others. Over the last years women's and feminists groups have often striked to denounce multiple oppressions and violence against women, but also to challenge the political and economic status quo: 'without us there is no production or reproduction'.

The strike in Spain was divided into four fronts: labor strike, student strike, care strike and consumption strike. Women’s and feminist groups and activists combined their presence in multiple arenas, online and offline, as they engaged in contentious discursive practices to dispute and (re)define what their strike is, why they stop and what for. This paper will, then, analyze how the 2018 and 2019 feminist strikes unfolded in Barcelona, one of the most relevant mobilization sites in Spain. What contentious discursive practices did activists enact as they striked? How do activists perceive opportunities and challenges to advance their political views through the strikes? Which contradictions, dilemmas or conflicts emerge from these disputes? To answer these questions, I will perform textual and network analysis on a sample of more than a million tweets containing hashtags related to the strikes - collected from Twitter’s API over the months preceding both strikes - in addition to conducting qualitative analysis of participant observation notes and semi-structured interviews with activists involved in Barcelona’s strikes and protests.

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