Antagonistic Imaginaries of Indignant Squares
This chapter performs an ethnographic reading of the Indignants’ occupation of Athens’ Syntagma Square during the summer of 2011. In doing so, we move beyond approaches that either demonize the Indignant Squares as an apolitical/post-post political crowd gathering or idealize them as the model of 21st century political praxis. Reading the spatial and discursive repertoires that unfolded in and through the Indignant Squares, we highlight the existence of not one, but two distinct Indignant Squares, each with its own topography (upper and lower square), and its own discursive and material practices. While both squares staged dissent, they nevertheless articulated conflicting, and at times radically opposing, political imaginaries. On the one hand, the ‘upper square’ remained confined within ritualistic moaning and cursing, often emanating nationalist and/or xenophobic discourses. On the other, the ‘lower square’ evolved around more organized efforts to stage a politics of direct democratic practices and solidarity. Building on this account, we argue for a more nuanced analysis of the organizational, spatial and discursive choreographies of events like the Indignant Squares. Reading Indignant Squares in the plural, we maintain, helps explore in more grounded ways the possibilities as well as the limitations of these events in instituting democratic politics.
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