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Accepted Paper:

“A task that takes a lifetime”: learning long-term commitment among grassroots activists in Athens  
Xenia Valeth (Universidad de Sevilla) Carmina Cera Márquez (Universidad)

Paper Short Abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Athens, this paper reflects on activist subjectivity as a collective experience that encourages long-term commitment. We explore the way in which everyday tasks become part of learning processes that reenforce communitarian and prefigurative values.

Paper Abstract:

Based on our fieldwork among activist groups maintaining self-organised infrastructures in the centre of Athens, in our communication we would like to reflect on the individual and collective learning processes through which people not only become activists in the first place but also consolidate their identity as politically engaged subjects throughout their lifetimes.

We will focus on the example of two grassroots organisations that, apart from different types of contentious action, sustain solidarity projects such as a social kitchen, refugee and migrant housing and self-organised firefighting. They understand their activities as revolutionary, prefigurative acts of rendering state and capitalist entities unnecessary through everyday praxis. In this context, long-term commitment is crucial to allow for the organisations to both meet basic human needs in times of subsequent crises and pursue their strategy of sociopolitical transformation. Experienced activists transmit a complex culture of collective responsibility to newcomers which, as we argue in this paper, ultimately leads to an extended activist subjectivity, grounding each individual activist’s way of being in the world through in the values that their organisation seeks to enact.

As part of this process, everyday tasks are reinterpreted as tools of activist socialisation that imply unlearning hegemonic ideas understood as hindering for the common goals while providing activists with a sense of purpose and community that strengthens their desire to remain engaged in spite of personal risk and a considerable workload.

Panel P238
Becoming/ being an activist: reflections on a key political subjectivity of late capitalism
  Session 2 Friday 26 July, 2024, -