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Becoming/ being an activist: reflections on a key political subjectivity of late capitalism 
Mihir Sharma (Universität Bayreuth)
Agnieszka Pasieka (University of Vienna)
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Agnieszka Pasieka (University of Vienna)
Mihir Sharma (Universität Bayreuth)
Friday 26 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

Who or what makes an activist? We invite ethnographic, speculative, and comparative analyses about the processual aspects of how activists are made, and about how they become and remain activists. What are the implications of reconsidering genealogies of activism for ethnography?

Long Abstract:

Who or what makes an activist? The term has been applied to actors and practices across various sociopolitical and linguistic contexts. Often, definitions of the term activist, however conscious, reflect a normative understanding of actors - their relations, subjectivities, and desires - and consequently, of what kind of actors “deserve” to be called activists, or which kinds of practices count as doing activism. Instead, we wish to reflect on the processual aspects by which activists are made, and how they become and remain activists. Finally, we seek to examine the implications of this inquiry for both ethnographic research and broader debates.

To this end, we propose thinking with the following questions:

What (and “whose”) are the criteria for becoming /being /remaining /being recognized as activists?

What are the costs of being an activist? Who can afford to be an activist?

What are underrepresented genealogies of activism? What are the sociohistorical specificities and conjunctures which enable and limit activist subjectivities?

What are the demarcations between activist and organizer, activist and militant, activist and comrade/companion, and activism and advocacy?

To what extent has anthropological theorizing hindered, enabled, or intervened in the making of activists?

We invite comparative analyses, speculative thinkpieces, personal accounts, and experimental ethnographic work which may address, expand on, critique, or subtend these questions. While we welcome ethnographic case-studies, we encourage participants to reflect on the implications of their findings for social movement studies, theorizations of political subjectivity and agency, and other aspects of social theory.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 26 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Friday 26 July, 2024, -