Breaks and continuities in and between cycles of protest : memories and legacies of the global justice movement in the context of anti-austerity mobilisations
Title: Breaks and continuities in and between cycles of protest : memories and legacies of the global justice movement in the context of anti-austerity mobilisations
Citation: Donatella DELLA PORTA and Alice MATTONI (eds), Spreading protest : social movements in times of crisis, Colchester : ECPR Press, 2014, Studies in European Political Science, pp. 193-225
Where does the current wave of global mobilisation come from? How can we explain the last two years’ explosion of anti-austerity and anti-corporate contention? In this chapter we aim at contributing in answering these questions, focusing on a particular aspect: the legacies and memories of the Global Justice Movement (GJM). Though large protests often surprise observers, they hardly start from scratch. Mostly, they are rooted in previous mobilisations with respect to their diagnostic framing, repertoires, and forms of organisation. The way in which these previous mobilisations are remembered plays a crucial role in this continuity: it determines which actions were helpful or successful and which were not. It preselects possible strategies of organisation and mobilisation. In this way memories can be understood as channels of temporal diffusion. This chapter analyses activists’ memories of the GJM in Italy, in different phases of the anti-austerity mobilisations in 2011 and 2012, in the context of two initiatives of commemoration: the 10th anniversary of the Genoa G8 “Genova 2001-Genova 2011: loro la crisi, noi la speranza”, organised in Genoa in 2011, on the one hand; and the “Firenze 10+10”, a set of workshops and activities organised in Florence in 2012, 10 years after the European Social Forum, on the other. Both events refer to fundamental moments in the history of the GJM, with different focuses on commemoration and on the organisation of debates and initiative linked with the contemporary political context. We reconstruct the legacies of the GJM in activists’ memories through interviews with activists in the context of these two events of commemoration. The analysis reveals a limited number of changes in the memories of the GJM and in its perceived legacies between 2011 and 2012, highlighting the relative permanence of movement memory, and it links these changes to the altered political and social context (before and after crisis) and constellations of actors. These findings ask for further research on memory as a movement outcome and on the symbolic relationship between different cycles of protest.
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