Accepted Paper:

Understanding emerging forms of mobilization: the Arab spring in Israel  


Alexander Koensler (University of Perugia)

Paper short abstract:

Through ethnographic insights from the Arab spring in Israel, this paper discusses how ethnography can contribute to alter-political thought by rethinking some of its methodological assumption and investigating how emerge possible worlds to come.

Paper long abstract:

How emerge new trends in social movements, protest and radical political thinking? Can ethnography foresee how new political actors extend the spaces of what seems possible and thinkable? This paper argues that if anthropological approaches are rethought in its methodological assumptions and opened up to interdisciplinary influence, emerging political articulations can be understood more in detail. In particular, ethnographic studies have often been limited by an insufficient conceptualization of practices which leads scholars to focus on those on those practices which "reproduce" social realities rather than those fragile, and emerging one which challenge existing reality. Grounding this approach in ethnographic examples of a local variant of the "Arab-Spring" from the Israeli Negev desert, I try to show how during the mobilization for social justice in socalled "tent cities", Arab-Bedouin recognition demands met Jewish-Israeli social struggles in unprecedented forms of collaboration and cross-contaminations. Along experimental forms of struggle, new forms of mobilizations combined methods deriving from new age festivals, anarchistic direct action, and ecosophies, distilling new, still fragile structural forms of struggle that are able to overcome divisions forged through the current mainstream re-articulation of cultural differences in mainstream minority and human-rights discourses. In this context, the humility of the ethnographic attention to micro-political dynamics can become crucial to theorize emerging forms of mobilization and sociality. While remaining cautiousness about the wider dimensions of these experimental mobilizations, I argue that renewed ethnography will be able to make experiences meaningful for current alter-political thought, understanding better possible worlds to come.

Panel W121
Inspiring alter-politics: anthropology and critical political thinking (EN-FR)