Conference Agenda

RN25_01: Urban social movements
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

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


Whose Right to the City? The Class Dimension of Urban Struggles in Zagreb and Belgrade

Danijela Dolenec1, Karlo Kralj2, Ana Balković3

1University of Zagreb, Croatia; 2Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy; 3Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain

The city is the primary site of conflict in capitalism, exposing its logic of commodification, while at the same time generating space for mobilizing towards its alternatives (Harvey, 2008; Brenner, Marcuse and Mayer 2012). Since many post-2008 mobilizations revolved around housing struggles, this paper explores how they are related to class dynamics. We reject Kerbo’s (1982) distinction between movements of crisis versus movements of affluence, arguing that urban struggles often embody anti-capitalist demands as well as post-materialist demands for increased citizen participation and democratisation of city governance. To understand this complexity, we explore class bases of protest events in Zagreb and Belgrade, capital cities within post-socialist political economies. Compared to their Western counterparts, in post-socialist cities the demolition of the social in favour of the market has resulted in far-reaching transformations of how the city is used and experienced (Dolenec, Doolan and Tomašević 2017). Relying on PEA data for 2000 - 2017 enables us to capture periods before and after the onset of the economic crisis. We distinguish protest demands focusing on the housing crisis on the one hand, versus those focusing on urban planning and quality of urban space on the other. Starting from this distinction, we explore identities of protesters, the framing of demands, and other aspects of protest events to establish possible class patterns of mobilization. Furthermore, we spatially analyse the distribution of these types of protest in Zagreb and Belgrade, aiming to determine class dynamics across city neighbourhoods.

Waste Pickers, Resistance And The Urban Commons. Stories From The Resilient Community La Chureca

Patrik Zapata1, María José Zapata Campos1, Jessica Peréz2

1University of Gothenburg, Sweden; 2University of Central America, UCA, Nicaragua

Millions of waste pickers in cities all over the world make their living collecting, recycling and selling materials that someone else has thrown away. Accordingly, waste pickers are increasingly being recognized for their significant contributions to reducing the carbon footprint of cities, recovering resources, improving environmental conditions and the health of low-income residents, and creating jobs among the poor. Despite their contributions, waste pickers are one of the most widely excluded, impoverished and disempowered groups of society. Waste pickers are exposed to toxic materials; suffer from widespread prejudice and stigmatization; are persecuted by police and others; are susceptible to global price market oscillations and are subject to exploitative relations with intermediaries. Notwithstanding they overcome these colossal barriers with their everyday work and their everyday resistance. Both individually and collectively they strive to improve their working situation, gain their rights as citizens, and secure access to waste as a source of livelihood. They form new social movements of urban poor that, intentionally or not, challenge the nature of the state, local governments and civil society. Informed by the history of resistance of the community of waste pickers that since 1972 work at La Chureca (the municipal dump in Managua, Nicaragua) this paper aims to examine the everyday/individual, collective and material strategies of resistance in the process of maintaining access to waste as an urban common. Theoretically, the paper builds upon theories on resistance, insurgent citizenship and urban commons. Methodologically, it combines more than hundred in-depth interviews with waste pickers and other actors, conducted along ten-years research, documents, mass media analysis and observations.

"Lulu's Movements in multilevel Struggles in Italy"

Giuliana Sorci1, Donatella della Porta2, Gianni Piazza1, Niccolò Bertuzzi2

1University of Catania; 2Scuola Normale Superiore, Firenze

Territorial or LULU movements are regaining media centrality in public discourse in Italy. While addressing local issues, they develop a complex multi-level strategy, addressing local, but also national and European targets. A comparative analysis of LULUs struggles allows in particular to assess processes of scale shifts, both upwards and downwards in a context characterized by an economic crisis. Developing upon the political process approach in social movement studies, but bridging it with approaches in policy analysis, we aim at explaining the ways in which opportunities are framed at various levels along the different steps of the policy process. Specific questions refers to the assessment of Europe as a potentially, target and space of struggle in a situation of declining processes of Europeanization within social movements, given the perceived closing of opportunities at EU level; the potential for appropriation of opportunities as the Five Star Movement took power at national level. The research is based on a cross-case analysis of four movements: 1) the No TAV, against the construction of the high-speed railway line in Val di Susa (Piedmont); 2) the No MUOS, contrary to the US Navy geo-satellite communication system (Sicily); 3) the No TAP, against the construction of the Trans-Adriatic Gas pipeline in Apulia; 4) the No Large Ships adverse to the transit of cruise ships in Venice. The paper is based on previous research, on interviews with key-informants and analysis of documents and press.

Understanding Cycling Activism

Peter Cox

University of Chester, United Kingdom

Advocacy and activism mobilising around issues of bicycling has both a long history and a vibrant and growing present. However, the global scale of activities linked by cycling as a trope makes it hard to think conceive as a coherent movement, and the diversity of analyses and approaches employed by activists makes theorising it as a single movement problematic.

This paper revisits Lofland’s 1990s work on the American Peace Movement to consider the ways in which diverse activisms with a single uniting feature can be understood as articulations of a range of interlocked and bundled models of change. The study considers the actions and self-expression of activists though their actions, writings and through the networks and organizations they form to understand these as reflections of underlying assumptions that participant hold about the nature of change.

Based on extensive empirical study and more 10 years of work with these activist networks in Europe, South Asia, and North and South America, the study outlines a modification of Lofland’s original six-fold model to demonstrate the tensions and contradictions within a broader set of alliances. It shows that it can be meaningful to understand cycling activism in social movement terms. It further reports on how this academic analysis his being taken up by activists as a tool for self-understanding and conflict resolution.

New Seasons Of A Claim Among The Right To The City And The Right To Inhabit: The Case Of Naples

Ciro Clemente De Falco2, Gabriella Punziano1

1Department of Social Sciences - University of Naples Federico II, Italy; 2Department of Social Sciences - University of Naples Federico II, Italy

Naples is interesting to analyze from a political point of view: in recent years the city has seen a proliferation of movements’ actions aimed mainly at the re-appropriation and renewal of neglected spaces or buildings. From the point of view of social movements, it should be emphasized that the city, in the past, has expressed high levels of conflict. What characterizes the current initiatives is the driving force of a strictly endogenous nature that feeds the propulsive drives from below and is deeply rooted at the territorial level. Of this type are the squatting experiences – related to the housing crisis and to the “right to inhabit” – or those of occupations with a socio-political aim – actions undertaken in the general strand of the “right to the city”.

The perspective that leads the development of social movements to the structure of political opportunities seem to work well to interpret the reason for this atypical political vivacity with respect to the national context. Therefore, the aim of this work is twofold: to map the experiences of movement that have recently arisen, describing them from the point of view of the practices and the actors involved; to analyze whether these actions characterize or not a new political phase of the Neapolitan movement. This aim will be pursued through an ethnographic analysis that will also make use of interviews with leaders of local movements and proponents of actions directly attributable to the claim of the right to the city and the right to inhabit.