CONSEJO MEXICANO DE CIENCIAS SOCIALES

Global Movement Assemblages | SSJ vol.12, No.1

Theorizing Power, Difference and the Politics of Social Change: Problems and Possibilities in Assemblage Thinking

Janet M. Conway
Brock University, Canada

Michal  Osterweil
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Elise Thorburn
Brock University, Canada

KEYWORDS  assemblage; social movements; Occupy; Deleuze

Introduction

 This special issue of Studies in Social Justice explores the potential of assemblage thinking for apprehending contemporary social movements and the relations among them across global time and space. It grows out of a 2016 symposium sponsored by Brock University’s Social Justice Research Institute, entitled, Global Movement Assemblages: Continuities, Differences, and Connectivities. The symposium’s aim was to deploy assemblage thinking to make better sense of the wave of popular democratic uprisings since 2010, while also considering its risks, limitations and possibilities.

Derived from the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, “assemblage” names the coming together of heterogenous social, biological, technological and other elements that co-function in provisional wholes in which the behavior of the constituent parts is conditioned but not determined by the  whole and whereby the parts never lose their own integrity, their own difference. The assemblage acts through the emergent and distributed agency of its parts, human and non-human, through the composition of forces and the relationality they enact.

We propose that the concept of assemblage aptly describes the post-2010 movements as they are, that is empirically. In addition to appreciating the dispersed character of these movements, the notion of assemblage affords the possibility of theorizing the agency of other, non-human elements in their constitution, including digital technologies, local ecologies, and the built environment. As such, assemblage thinking can help effect a break with mainstream approaches in social movement studies and their onto-epistemic commitments to unity, which inhibit their making sense of such emergent or spatially and temporally dispersed actions. Moreover, as a form of “post- poststructuralist thought” (A. Escobar, personal communication, February, 2017), assemblage thinking also breaks with the latent positivism of dominant approaches in acknowledging that the choice of interpretive lenses and concepts conditions the kind of sense we make of these movements and of their political potentialities.

The ongoing wave of popular democratic uprisings, beginning in 2011 with the Arab Spring, the Indignados, and Occupy, have been conceptualized in various ways as related phenomena and as signifying newness. They are commonly understood as having emerged in the context of the 2008 financial crisis, resisting deepening neoliberalization, reflecting a generalized crisis of representative democracy, and demanding social justice, democracy and dignity (e.g., Glasius & Pleyers, 2013; Castells, 2015). We are not satisfied that these understandings, nor the current theoretical and conceptual vocabulary that we have for speaking about movements, are adequate. We contend that the dominant frameworks fail to capture the political force of contemporary movements while also perpetuating several problematic assumptions. These include a Eurocentric conception of the global and a state-centric definition of politics and movement outcomes. They are oriented by unacknowledged teleologies, such as the inexorability of modernization or democratization. They remain trapped within the terms of Eurocentric modernity in the subjects, discourses and utopias that they privilege. Middle East scholar Mojtaba Mahdavi, for example, has critiqued the neo- Orientalism of much commentary on the Arab Spring. In the same vein, Hamid Dabashi has contended that the term “Arab Spring” reinforced a categorial distinction between “Europe” and “non-Europe” on one hand, and between Arab and African on the other. The term effaces commonalities among uprisings in southern Europe and the MENA region, and between the

Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa, where the fact that numerous similar events took place in the same period is continually obscured. [continue reading…]

Vol. 12, No.1 (2018)>>

 

Te puede interesar

XIII Congreso Español de Sociología
Convocatorias
0 veces compartido55 vistas
Convocatorias
0 veces compartido55 vistas

XIII Congreso Español de Sociología

Laura Gutiérrez - Oct 19, 2018

Federación Española de Sociología XIII Congreso Español de Sociología 3-6 de Julio 2019 El Congreso Español de Sociología es el…

Assistant Professor, Cultural Anthropology
Oportunidades de trabajo
0 veces compartido39 vistas
Oportunidades de trabajo
0 veces compartido39 vistas

Assistant Professor, Cultural Anthropology

Laura Gutiérrez - Oct 19, 2018

The department of Sociology/Anthropology Ohio Wesleyan University (www.owu.edu) invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in cultural anthropology to…

Folklore and Socio-Cultural Anthropology
Oportunidades de trabajo
0 veces compartido34 vistas
Oportunidades de trabajo
0 veces compartido34 vistas

Folklore and Socio-Cultural Anthropology

Laura Gutiérrez - Oct 19, 2018

Lecturer in Folklore and Socio-Cultural Anthropology University of California, Berkeley United States RECRUITMENT PERIOD Open date: April 30th, 2018 Last review…

Deja un comentario

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada.