1 School of Culture and Society - Philosophy and History of Ideas, Department of, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University2 School of Culture and Society - History of Ideas, subject, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University3 School of Culture and Society - History of Ideas, subject, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University
Inspired by the Occupy movement, the Egyptian revolutionaries and other of the 2011 social movements, this paper investigates the relationship between social movement and place. Drawing on first-hand accounts from these movements, I argue that the relationship between movement and place is dialectical and mutually constitutive: the physical and symbolic characteristics of place influence the formation of the movement and its actions while the latter re-creates the place. This is a corrective to a dominant approach in social movement studies to see movements as a ‘dependent variable’ that is to be explained (della Porta 2008) instead of a political subject with the ability to affect itself and society; and a corrective to the growing body of literature on the geographies of social movements that often has a too static and state-centred approach. Using John Agnew’s (1987) conceptualisation of place as locale, location and sense of place, I show how the 2011 movements re-created the occupied places of Tahrir Square, Zuccotti Park and elsewhere along these three dimensions of place. This re-creation, I suggest, can be grasped as an attempt to transform a hegemonic place, a node in hegemonic structures, into an eventful place, a prefigurative place characterised by a new way of doing politics.
social movements; protest; revolution; Egypt; USA; human geography; political sociology; place and space