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Accepted Paper:

Reclaiming hope amidst ruins: hope as stubborn refusal and acts of defiance  
Randi Irwin (University of Newcastle, Australia) Hedda Haugen Askland (University of Newcastle)

Paper short abstract:

We explore two different sites of displacement prominently featuring activists who respond to the takeover of their lands, aggressive privatisation of the commons, and dismantling of social structures by neoliberal and imperialist forces through place-based hopeful practices and acts of defiance.

Paper long abstract:

This paper offers a reading of hope, hopefulness and political vocabularies of the future across two very different sites of displacement. Both sites prominently feature activists who have responded to neoliberal and imperialist takeover of their lands through practices that might best be described as place-making. In each context, place is the site of struggle over identity, rights, and resources, which come together in such a way that they give shape to different, hoped-for futures, which contest the dominant discourse of the hope of the commons through a refusal to let go of an imagined, hopeful future set in place. Instead of beginning our theorization and inquiry with a focus on destruction, we’re concerned with the ways in which hopefulness offers insight into political possibilities.

Through an analysis of Saharawi refugees’ ‘waiting’ in the self-managed Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria and the ‘death’ of a village in the easter Australian coal fields, we seek to develop a rich starting point that turn ethnographic attention from dispossession fixated on ruination and absence and towards activists’ resistance struggles as part of a process of creation facilitated by hope. This, we argue, requires a reframing of our ethnographic lens that centres hope and liveliness in our research that might otherwise be subsumed in an external diagnosis of ruination. Within these settings alternative visions of hope are generated and nurtured that counteracts the dominant discourse of the commons, life and hope.

Panel P164a
Times of crisis, times of hope? Movements and collaborations between transformative potential and reification [Anthropology and Social Movements Network]
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -