Two day event: Keynote: Marianne Maeckelbergh (Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University, Netherlands, and co-founder of Global Uprisings)
For full details of the programme please see refer to the event website: http://prefigurationactivism.wordpress.com/
4 December: Workshop 9.30-5 (open to everybody).
To register, please follow this link: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ctiscidral-workshop-prefiguration-in-contemporary-activism-tickets-13364899775
5 December: PhD Masterclass 9.30-2 (open to PhD students only).
To register, please follow this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/phd-masterclass-prefiguration-in-contemporary-activism-tickets-13393681863
Prefiguration involves experimentation with ways of enacting the principles being advocated by activist groups in the here and now. ‘Prefigurative politics’ collapses traditional distinctions between means and ends in political action, and focuses attention on the possibility of realising change in the present. As Marianne Maeckelbergh explains, ‘prefiguration holds the ends of political action to be equally important as the means, and has the intention (over time, or momentarily) to render them indistinguishable’ (Maeckelbergh 2009: 88). The concept of prefiguration stimulates a focus on the form as much as aims of activism, and creates a context for thinking about how a radically democratic political process might be reinvigorated, both in the processes of political action and the broader public sphere. Prefigurative politics allows for tactics and strategies of activism to be improvised anew in response to changing environments, supporting an open process of learning and adaption which ensures that, in each moment of action, ‘the possibility for another world exists’ (Maeckelbergh 2009: 229).
Much of the literature on prefiguration explores organisational and structural issues, such as the ways in which activist groups create in their own interactions and practices a model of the society they envision (often non-hierarchical, non-representational, respectful of diversity, and based on a logic of solidarity). We invite potential contributors to present research focusing on these issues, and we also hope to include contributions that explore how this definition of prefiguration might be extended so as to encompass textual, visual, performative and aesthetic practices that prefigure activist principles and actualise them in the present. The emergence of the global justice movement in the late 1990s signalled a ‘cultural turn’ in contemporary activism (Amoore 2005: 357). Modes of activism now commonly embrace the cultural, artistic and theatrical as a means of drawing attention to, experimenting with and projecting new modes of being in the here and now. The extension of the notion of prefiguration to include the cultural domain will support a stimulating range of conversations about contemporary forms of activism that traverse disciplinary boundaries.
The workshop is aimed at everybody; the masterclass is aimed primarily at PhD students. Apart from the keynote presentation, the event will feature presentations by doctoral students whose work engages with the proposed theme.
Co-organised by: Mona Baker, Centre for Translation & Intercultural Studies, Jenny Hughes, Drama, Rebecca Johnson, Doctoral Student, Centre for Translation & Intercultural Studies
Masterclass on Friday 5th:
Digital Methods: Contextualizing the Digital in Everyday Life
Marianne Maeckelbergh, Leiden University
This masterclass explores some of the methodological dilemmas that arise as a result of ubiquitous computing. Even when digital technology is not the focus of one's research, it is often 'present' in the interactions, communications and relationships we attempt to understand. Through a methodology of “digital context construction” we can begin to analyse how digital devices are integrated into a wider set of social interactions and political processes. What specifically, if anything, changes when technology becomes a tool in our everyday communications? What are the methodological implications of the increased use of digital technology in offline worlds? With the proliferation of mobile digital devices, digital technology not only expands people's ability to amplify, record and spread (boyd 2011) information at home, but also as they interact with others in public – thereby challenging the classic analytical divide between “the old communities that had 'streets and alleys'” and the online communities that are “bound by bits and bytes” (Postill 2008). However, given that streets and alleys do not map perfectly onto bits and bytes, the combination of streets and bytes creates temporal and spatial disjunctures that require empirical investigation. These temporal and spatial disjunctures also create methodological opportunities and limitations. Drawing on examples from research within the Occupy movement and the 15 May movement, this masterclass will explore how meanings and uses attributed to digital technology can be created and transformed, in part, through non-digital interactions.
Boyd, D. (2011) 'Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications’, in Z. Papacharissi (ed.) A Networked Self: Identity, Community and Culture on Social Network Sites, Oxon & New York: Routledge.
Postill, J. (2008) 'Localizing the Internet Beyond Communities and Networks’, New Media & Society 10(3): 413-431.
Marianne Maeckelbergh is Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University, the Netherlands and is the author of The Will of the Many: How the Alterglobalization Movement is Changing the Face of Democracy (Pluto Press, 2009). She has been active in grassroots movements since the early 1990s and is currently working on the documentary film series www.globaluprisings.org.