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Accepted Paper:

Political energy at the grassroots: contestation and the development of alternatives by activist groups in Spain  
Monique Nuijten (Wageningen University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines political activism and the development of new interpretative frames around justice, citizenship and state responsibility. Based on ethnographic research in Southern Spain, the paper analyses the PAH (platform of mortgage victims) and the vision of several of its activists.

Paper long abstract:

In a time of turmoil and crisis for a large part of the world population, and increasing moral concerns, a variety of initiatives have emerged at the grassroots, based on values which differ from those of neo-liberal capitalism. An increasing number of people perceive traditional politics and state law as alien and corrupt, only serving a global elite. In this climate, political activism thrives. Some activists focus on locally based, green initiatives, while others strive for a radical change of the capitalist world order through collective actions that easily bring them into conflict with state law.

This paper examines how political activism developed in Spain after the economic crisis of 2008 and severe austerity measures. I look at different activist initiatives, with a special focus on the PAH (platform of mortgage victims). Political activistis oppose the formal political system and question its legitimacy. They contest hegemonic political practices through the construction of new interpretative frames around justice, citizenship and state responsibility. In this way, they actively engage in the shaping of new subject positions. This paper zooms in on the discourses and practices of the PAH and several of its activists in order to shed light on these new interpretative frames and subject positions.

Panel P054
Ethnographies of the contemporary left
  Session 1