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