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Accepted Paper:

The Activist Sentiment: Sensing the Political during the European Long Summer of Migration  
Ziga Podgornik-Jakil (European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder))

Paper Short Abstract:

In this paper, I examine the concept of the political as an embodied sentiment through which pro-refugee and anti-border activists make sense of and engage with the world. While scholars often use the political as an analytical concept, I show what we can learn by engaging with it empirically.

Paper Abstract:

Is one already political if one engages in practices that potentially have political consequences? Especially since the emergence of resistance studies and the influence of Foucault's connection between politics and power, the political and political subjects are assumed to emerge wherever there is resistance. Rather than considering the political as an etic analytical concept, I propose that we examine it empirically by looking at how those who call themselves political activists experience it. I approach the political as an embodied sentiment through which political activists make sense of the world, engage with it, and experience what is political and what is not. Following Saba Mahmood, I take seriously the beliefs, attitudes, and sensibilities of political activists behind their practices and discourses and show that the political is not always everywhere, but where activists feel and cultivate it.

I do this by engaging with pro-refugee and anti-border political activist groups that were active during the European Long Summer of Migration of 2015/2016. Most of the literature on this period argues that thousands of European citizens organizing in support of asylum-seekers were acting politically. While acknowledging the differences between these individuals and groups, it glosses over the fact that some refused to see their work as political, while others presented it as such. My focus on political activist groups engages with these differences and explores what we can learn from a more robust understanding of the political—especially given that the European migration regime has become much stricter since then.

Panel P238
Becoming/ being an activist: reflections on a key political subjectivity of late capitalism
  Session 1 Friday 26 July, 2024, -