The spatialization of democratic politics: Insights from Indignant Squares

Kaika, M. and Karaliotas, L. (2016) The spatialization of democratic politics: Insights from Indignant Squares. European Urban and Regional Studies, 23(4), pp. 556-570. (doi:10.1177/0969776414528928)

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Abstract

This article departs from accounts that either deify Indignant Squares as a model for 21st century political praxis or demonize them as apolitical/post-political crowd gatherings. By performing a closer ethnographic reading of the Indignants’ protests at Athens’ Syntagma Square, we depict the Indignant Squares as a consensual and deeply spatialized staging of dissent, which nevertheless harbours in its underbelly internally conflicting and often radically opposing political imaginaries. A closer reading of the organization, practice and discourses that evolved at Syntagma Square unearths the existence of not one, but two distinct Indignant Squares, both at Syntagma, each with its own topography (upper and lower square), and its own discursive and material practices. Although both squares staged dissent, they nevertheless generated different (opposing, even) political imaginaries. The ‘upper square’ often divulged nationalistic or xenophobic discourses; the ‘lower square’ centred around more organized efforts to stage inclusive politics of solidarity. The paper suggests that, rather than focusing on the homogenizing terms Indignants’ movement/Indignant Squares we should instead be trying to develop a more nuanced theoretical understanding and a more finely grained empirical analysis of the discursive and spatial choreographies of these events. This, we argue, would allow us to go beyond either celebrating them as new political imaginaries, or condemning them as expressions of a post-political era. Talking of ‘Indignant Squares’ in the plural helps one explore in more grounded ways both the limitations and the possibilities that these events offer for opening up (or closing down) democratic politics.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Athens, crisis, democratic politics, dissent, Greece, Indignant Squares, occupy, post-politics, radical imaginary, Syntagma.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Karaliotas, Dr Lazaros
Authors: Kaika, M., and Karaliotas, L.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
Research Group:HGRG
Journal Name:European Urban and Regional Studies
Publisher:SAGE
ISSN:0969-7764
ISSN (Online):1461-7145
Published Online:08 May 2014
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in European Urban and Regional Affairs 23(4):556-570
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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