Assembling neighbours. The City as Archive, Hardware, Method (at the EASA Conference)

On 22/01/2012 by Adolfo

Alberto Corsín and I will be presenting and discussing part of our research on the 15M (indignados movement, #spanishrevolution) in the European Association of Social Anthropologists Conference to be held in the Nanterre University (France) on July. The title of our presentation is ‘Assembling neighbours. The City as Archive, Hardware, Method’. We have a paper in progress on this issue, if you are interested just let me know. The presentatin is part of the workshop titled ‘Reducing complexity: transformation of capital cities‘. You can read the abstract below:

On 15 May 2011 a group of people gathered at Puerta del Sol in Madrid (Spain), the city’s central and most famous square, after attending a large public demonstration. Some people then made a decision to spend the night in the open air at the square. The gathering quickly developed into an established encampment that would initiate a new form of political and urban innovation: the ‘assembly movement’ (movimiento asambleario) widely known as 15M and which in time would inspire the global Occupy movement. Six months later there were over one hundred established assemblies in plazas and open spaces across Madrid. The voices vecino and barrio (neighbour and neighbourhood) have over this time acquired new political and social valence in Spain, and Madrid in particular. The social form of the assembly is inscribing the political landscape of the city with a revitalised practice of neighbourly politics. In this context the assembly prefigures or prototypes a social method and an infrastructure for dealing with, even reinventing classical urban topos, such as negotiations over stranger-relationality, the making of public spaces, or the very apprehension of the urban condition as a de/territorialised form. We want to explore in this presentation the rise of ‘popular assemblies’ as a political technology of neighbourly life. The political purchase of this assemblage / assembly is its status as urban open hardware. An object invested in the fuzziness of the urban condition. Our account is based on an ethnography of Madrid’s mobilizations, and in particular on intensive fieldwork across a number of assemblies. The ethnography is ongoing.

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