The Indignant Movement in Athens (new book chapter!)


Photo by Nikos Kazeros

Our book chapter with Orsalia Dimitriou on the Indignant Movement in Athens was recently published in the edited book ‘Protest Camps in International Context: Spaces, Infrastructures and Media of Resistance’. The title of our chapter is ‘Protest spaces online and offline: the Indignant movement in Syntagma Square‘. Collaborating with Orsalia on this was very interesting, not only because writing a chapter with a friend makes the process much more enjoyable, but also because Orsalia is an architect with a PhD in visual culture. Writing with someone from a different discipline and developing a common framework for our argument was not easy – in the end we found inspiration in Henri Lefèbvre’s analysis of space and William Sewell Jr’s discussion of ‘spatial agency’ and social movements. Many thanks to Gavin Brown, Anna Feigenbaum, Fabian Frenzel and Patrick McCurdy for editing this volume and for providing very useful feedback.

The introduction to the chapter is copied below – email me if you’d like to have a look at a pre-publication draft.

“The summer of 2011 saw the largest occupation of public space in Greece. Enraged by the government’s austerity measures and following the example of the square occupations in Spain, thousands of people flooded Syntagma Square in the centre of Athens on the 25th of May 2011. Calling themselves ‘Αγανακτισμένοι’, meaning ‘Indignants’ in Greek, protesters stayed in the square for nearly two months, turning it into a stage of dissent and a place of political fermentation. This chapter explores the characteristics, practices and agency of the movement by focusing on space, both online and offline. We examine the Indignant’s repertoire of contention (Tilly 1978) – the tactics that they employed to challenge the government, express their anger and construct alternatives – with an eye on the spatial aspects of this repertoire. In so doing, we provide a sense of the movement’s ‘spatial agency’ (Sewell, 2001), of the ways in which the movement altered the physical arrangements and symbolic associations of space. However, our inquiry also looks at how spaces – online, offline and hybrid – shape patterns of mobilization and social movement activity. To provide a basis for this research, we begin by with a framework for understanding space, both physical and mediated and its relation with contentious politics.”