This blog post represents an effort at engaged anthropology in which the anthropologist Ida Susser is working with the scholar/activist Kevin Poperl in the analysis of a new form of social intervention.
As we sit here in Barcelona, a historic center of anarchism and left resistance, the questions debated in the most recent Focaal special section “Exploring the urban commons” confront us. As demonstrators take to the streets following the unauthorized referendum for Catalonian independence, many of the people involved are fighting for a new independent state, others are demanding a people’s right to choose, and still others are protesting police brutality and the legacy of Franco represented by the current ruling party. Is this an instance of commoning, or is it an instance of nationalist exclusivity? The dilemma of the relation of nationalism to progressive liberation is an old one, but always historically contingent, and appearing in a new form in this exploration of the commons.
Vicente Navarro is a leading analyst of the history and origins of the financial crisis in Spain (and Europe in general) and an economic adviser to Podemos. His book There Are Alternatives (Hay Alternativas: Propuestas para Crear Empleo y Bienestar Social en España), written with economists Juan Torres and Alberto Garzón, became an inspiration to the Indignados movement. Asked by Podemos, Navarro and Torres developed a new economic policy outlining the challenges of the current era and economic strategies that serve the people rather than the corporations. Podemos distributed this publication under the title An Economic Project for the People (Un Proyecto Económico para la Gente). Presented by Pablo Iglesias and the authors, the project became a major media event, denounced by banks and corporate representatives all over Europe and acclaimed by many throughout Spain.
This paper is an effort to understand social movements in the United States with respect to regimes of accumulation (following somewhat in the footsteps of social theorists such as Gavin Smith (2011) and Jane Collins (2012). Here, I review recent approaches to theorizing social movements of the neoliberal era and then attempt to understand the emergence of various movements over time in New York City. As Don Kalb (2014: 174) has called for, this is part of an ongoing project “to rediscover … the interconnected populist histories, contestations and emergent ‘class compasses’” generated in the urban capitalist context.