EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution


Youth and social movements

Location S-236
Date and Start Time 03 August, 2014 at 09:00


Airi-Alina Allaste (Tallinn University) email
Mikko Lagerspetz (Åbo Akademi University) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

Session focuses broadly on social movements and forms of subactivism among young people who are crucial agents of social change. Papers that explore any form of it will be considered for the session.

Long Abstract

The economic crisis has restricted the younger generation's opportunities in the labour market and its access to welfare, pushing many to a marginalised position in society. Participation in new social movements and/or different sub-activism (small-scale, often individual, decisions and actions that have either a political or ethical frame of reference) have become one of the young people's answers to the Chrisis. As stated by Ulrich Beck more than a decade ago, social movements are taking the initiative in defining social risks and offering solutions to them. Today, technological developments also enable participation in international communities, movements and ohter activities engaged in lifestyle politics. New (political) worldviews spread quickly to different locations.

The session focuses broadly on social movements and subactivism among young people who are crucial agents of social change. Besides formal organisations, there is a growing body of decentralised activities which aim to change cultural codes, enagge in lifestyle politics, and prtomote new forms of collective identity as means of fostering social change. Papers that explore any form of young people's movements and subactivism will be considered for the session.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Standing up and eating together

Author: Lorenzo D'orsi (Stockholm University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper analyses tactics of resistance put in place during protests of Gezi park in Istanbul, like the still man and the breaking of fast of Ramadan organized by protesters. These are innovative practices of resistance that proved a skilful use of cultural codes and disrupted hierarchies of power.

Long Abstract

This paper analyses two tactics of resistance put in place during protests of Gezi park in Istanbul, showing how they disrupted the polarization of Turkish society and challenged a long history of dispossession by the State. The iftar (the breaking of fast during Ramadan) organized by protesters, gathering together religious and secular people, had proved a skilful use of cultural codes, since it subverted one of the most significant divisions of society. It was a practice of re-appropriation that broke with the existing and blended what should remain separate. Secondly, the so-called duran adam, the still man, can be seen as a bodily practice for rethinking society, upsetting the dominant codes. Remaining motionless was a rejection of staying in the assigned proper place, disrupting the way spaces, dissent and resistance are thought. The bodies in the streets of Istanbul were transgressing the hierarchies that have historically determined them and can be read as an attempt to overcome a long tradition of Statecraft trying to colonize bodies and lifestyles. Gezi movement, with its ability in reinventing the meaning of things and the uses of the bodies, redraw the boundaries of political discourse and offered to the rest of society other conceptions of social experience. These innovative practices of protest also allowed youth to cross their own spheres. Indeed, the unevenness of subjects involved made appear Gezi movement as a "collective thereness" (Butler 2103) where an unexpected sense of belonging grew up between people who hitherto had never mixed among each other.

‎"I'm not trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation, I'm talkin' about non- g-g-generation", The Who (modified) , My Generation

Author: Hagar Hazaz-Berger (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)  email

Short Abstract

The lecture will focus on the breakdown and blurring of the generation concept as it seen in Israel's 2011 summer protest. I will raise questions about the "Non- Generational" concept that reflects a temporary condition in a wondering space.

Long Abstract

"I start speaking with the kids here, they do not think differently from me, I felt they were not less experienced than me , I can have a conversation with anyone, literally anyone, like there is no age-wall between us" Yossi,50.

In this lecture I will examine the term of Generation as it seen in Israel's 2011 summer protest.

The official trigger for 2011 protest in Israel was the financial situation. Yet, the critical mass of the protest's participants weren't members of a social movement carrying an explicit, pre-dictated agenda, but rather independent and unorganized people hitting the streets. I will argue that the participant enabled them to dismantle and blur the categories of gender, ethnicity, and religion and create a safe space that allows participants to be unmarked or categorized.

The same protest, originally meant to warn against an imminent social threat, was instead used as a part of a personal quest for solutions. This is made possible by breaking down social categories.

The social protest's sphere enabled this quest, and became what I call "wondering space", where individuals paused to ask questions about their existence and their part in the social order.

This paper is based on ethnographic research conducted during the summer protest in Israel. It will focus on the attempt to define "Non-Generation", as a temporary concept in the protest and to examine the meaning of his structuring in a space that allowed wondering and thinking, in a social event.

Social movements in a crisis context: three case studies from Portugal

Authors: David Cairns (ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon)  email
Nuno Almeida Alves (ISCTE-IUL)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores social movements in Portugal, with three case studies from the EC-funded MYPLACE project. While different in terms of their modus operandi and socio-political orientation, the three cases share an economic crisis context, the significance of which is discussed via ethnography.

Long Abstract

Youth political participation in Portugal context is traditionally regarded as somewhat limited in scope, at least in respect to involvement in formal politics. However, the economic crisis and austerity measures enacted by the Portuguese government are now provoking a political response from young people, albeit largely in terms of informal activism. This paper explores this development via evidence gathered during 2011-2013 as part of the European Commission funded MYPLACE (Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement) project. Following a contextualization of the social and political context facing Portuguese youth, the paper presents three examples of different forms of contemporary political mobilization. This includes a case study (Catholic Youth Labour Movement) which provides a perspective on how an established youth activism platform is responding to the crisis, and two further cases illustrating more recent developments in respect to community politics (Barreiro Popular Assembly) and opposition to precarious working conditions (Inflexible Precarious Workers) respectively. The concluding part of the paper not only notes the sometimes literal integration of these social movements via joint participation in the wave of anti-austerity mass street protests but also in respect to common political goals centring on opposition to cuts in wages and public services and the degradation of youth working conditions, issues that are fundamentally ignored in the agendas of mainstream political parties in Portugal.

Invisible butterflies: bifurcating self and political militancy in contemporary Germany

Author: Bob Kurik (Charles University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores cultivation of "dual self" of young protest militants from Germany which is constituted through an art of switching between two political modi operandi - studying middle class one and rioting "butterfly" one.

Long Abstract

Political engagement of thousands of young global justice, anti-austerity and antifascist activists from Germany embraces formation of two detachable, yet interwoven modi operandi which constitutes the core complex of activist's bifurcating self. On one side they navigate their lifes through middle class milieu as university students communicating critical opinions through discussions, texts, arguments and having symbiotic relationship with the state. On the other side they cultivate invisible and confrontational modus operandi of Black bloc rioters, neo-nazi hunters, Zapatista-inspired "butterflies", anti-austerity rebels with fighting and disobedient bodies trained in street direct actions, martial arts, stealing, urban and virtual techniques of anonymization, and communicating through non-discursive, yet highly symbolical attacks on the state as well as the market. The logic of political practice lies in the art of switching between these two modi operandi which constitutes "dual self". This paper explores the process of re/activation of invisible butterflies and argues that the cultivation of activist's "dual self" enables in liminal stadium of life to practice militant protest as well as pursue middle class trajectory.

The role of social movements in youth political participation

Author: Reelika Pirk (Tallinn University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper focuses on social movements as a mode for contemporary young people to participate in society and political decision-making process.

Long Abstract

In the debate of youth political engagement social movements have a crucial role to play. In many contemporary democratic societies political culture is facing a crisis of legitimacy. Scholars around the world have stated that the level of traditional political participation is decreasing, especially among young people. On the other hand, there are opposite views, claiming that instead of being politically disengaged, young people are looking for (new) forms for participating in society, as they simply address social issues differently. Thus, new social movements (as well as Internet and single-issue activism etc.) are considered to be new platforms for young peoples´ political activism.

The paper is based on case study of ethical-moral values promoting animal rights movement in Estonia. A youth group which consists of politically minded young people who actively participate in and address different issues of the society. The paper explores the importance of social movement activism in sphere of political participation. Especially, it analyses how young people conceive their participation and role in society. Secondly, how young activists address political issues through social movements. And which challenges they face when participating in socio-political sphere through social movements. The empirical data set includes open-ended interviews and observations as well as secondary data sources collected during the time of fieldwork.

Masculinity and the revolution: emasculation, Islamaziation and the attack again women in post-revolution Egypt

Author: Mustafa Abdalla (Free University Berlin)  email

Short Abstract

This paper focuses on how men's feelings of emasculation in Egypt led many to support the Islamic camp in post-Mubarak Egypt. The 2011 revolution opened a space for certain men to aspire for imposing new moral codes to boost their position while marginalizing women and depriving them of their rights.

Long Abstract

This papers tackles male experiences of powerlessness and emasculation in Egypt that led many to support an Islamic regime led by the Muslim brotherhood post the January 2011 revolution. For decades, men in Egypt have been suffering the shift to neo-liberal economy, which has affected many aspects of their life: socially, economically, politically, etc. In this regard, I argue that the implications of these circumstances have influenced men's choices after the revolution and led many of them to favor the Islamic camp while seeing religion as a possible solution to their problems. Hence, the rise of Islamists and their control of power after the revolution could be connected to the crisis of masculinity that Egyptian men have been facing for several decades. In a changing Egyptian society after the revolution, many men pled for ruling in the name of religion, which they hoped would lead to restoring their position in society after undergoing a process of emasculation and feelings of marginalization for several decades under the Mubarak's regime. In this process, women and their hard won gains under previous regimes since 1952 appeared as a vivid target to this emerging masculinity. In this context, the transformations in which Egyptian society has been going through opened new horizons for certain men to think about their masculinity in different terms based on a moral order that allowed them to imagine a new society dominantly controlled by men while denying women the right and the space to actively participate in Egyptian public life.

Between the charybdis of homophobia and the scylla of xenophobia: Zenit, football fandom and the language of compromise

Author: Michael Furman (Ohio State)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines how the administration of Zenit discursively navigates its position as an ostensibly egalitarian organization, while not estranging themselves from fan clubs mobilizing homophobic and xenophobic rhetoric and thereby threaten the image of tolerance that Zenit attempts to foster.

Long Abstract

The rise of radicalized football fandom in Russia has placed some professional football teams in the morally precarious position of wanting to support their fan-base (including their radical fans), while simultaneously projecting a benevolent image to their larger communities. In this paper I examine how the formal organization of Zenit (St. Petersburg's premier football club) navigates its relationship with decentralized sites of football fandom that espouse inflammatory rhetoric.

In 2012, Landscrona (the largest fan club of Zenit) issued a manifesto specifying their stance on the permissible ethnicity and sexuality for the roster of Zenit. This manifesto issued a call to exclude those of the "sexual minority" (i.e. homosexuals) as well as those born outside of the northern and central areas of Russia (i.e. non-ethnic Russians). Rather than engaging in a direct dialogue with these fan clubs, Zenit discursively aligns itself with anti-racism and campaigns for tolerance, but does not directly engage with the fan clubs themselves. This positions Zenit as an egalitarian organization, but without critiquing the fan clubs espousing this rhetoric themselves.

Drawing on interviews, fieldwork and analysis from official documents and utilizing methodology from Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough 1992) and Ethnography of Communication (Hymes 1971) this study unearths the precise linguistic and social strategies that Zenit utilizes in order to position themselves as an egalitarian organization vis-à-vis the St. Petersburg community, while maintaining a neutral stance against those mobilizing xenophobic and homophobic rhetoric.

Social movement without formal groups: youth as driver of social change in northern Togo

Author: Bernhard Martin (University Halle-Wittenberg)  email

Short Abstract

In intergenerational conflicts African youth is often acting as a social movement searching for social and economic emancipation. But young people are rarely organized in formal groups. Rather they collaborate effectively by mutual support, sharing experience and exchange of points of view.

Long Abstract

Youth can be an important force in processes of social change in African local societies. As most societies are organized by gerontocratic principles, especially young men are disadvantaged economically and endowed with less power. Therefore generational relations are tense and youth is searching for possibilities to contest the rule of the old men.

This was also the case in northern Togo until the 1980s. During the following decade the cotton boom with its possibility to earn a lot of money during short time, the democratization process and a general shift in values induced a successful rebellion of the youth against the existing social structures.

The paper aims to analyze this process of social change by regarding northern Togolese youth as a social movement without formal groups. In their struggle for economic and political emancipation young men and women did established formal groups as clubs or associations (age sets did not existed in northern Togo). Although each of them decided independently from each other, the young people supported each other by solidarity in case of intergenerational conflicts as well as by sharing experience and exchange of points of view.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.