Pain, betrayal and solidarity: A personal perspective

June 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Random Reflections of a Domestic Extremist

I was lucky. I never had sex with any of the undercover cops or spies I’ve known. I’ve never fallen in love with them, never planned a future together, never thought they were “the one”. I can’t imagine the pain, the betrayal, the feeling of being “raped by the state” as one woman put it. I cannot put into words the respect I feel for all the people bringing the case against the cops, and the bravery of the women sacrificing their anonymity to fully describe the impact of what has happened to them.

However, I have loved them in different ways. I have let them into my life. I have respected, socialised and been on the streets with them. I’ve formed close friendships, shared intimate secrets. Some of them have met my family. Some held my baby and brought him presents. My therapist always asks where I feel the…

View original post 478 more words


Marxism and Social Movements: An Introduction

June 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Nice one Alf.

Shadows of Tender Fury

47768As a follow up to yesterday’s sample from Marxism and Social Movements, I’m delighted to be able to share the introductory chapter to the book, co-authored by Colin Barker, Laurence Cox, John Krinsky and myself.

In this chapter – entitled Marxism and Social Movements: An Introduction – we outline the state of play in terms of the relationship between Marxism, social movements, and social movement theory/research. We also present the individual contributions to the volume – so do have a dekho, and feel free to let us know what you think!


View original post

Useful reference points on collective low-budget organising and urban practice

June 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

The following text comes from a call for papers recently shared on the Anthropology Matters mailing list (the place to be if you are an anthropologist in the UK):

Dear all, we invite papers for our special issue in ephemera about ‘Saving the city’: Collective low-budget organizing and urban practice until August, 18th 2013, see also: ive-low-budget-organizing-and-urban-practice Call for papers for an ephemera special issue on: ŒSaving the city¹: Collective low-budget organizing and urban practice Issue Editors: Paula Bialski, Heike Derwanz, Lena Olaison, Birke Otto, Hans Vollmer In times of financial and economic crisis, cities have become sites of austerity measures, permanent fiscal restraint, declining tax revenues, bankruptcies and ever-increasing cuts to public services. In order to Œsave the city¹, Jamie Peck argues that the imperative to Œcut back and save¹ and Œwork your way out of debt¹ results in urban policies such as structural adjustment, privatization, public-private partnerships, and welfare retrenchments (Peck, 2012; see also Peck et al., 2009). While existing institutional arrangements, collectivist, social-state based ideals and redistributive systems are diminishing, there has been a proliferation of collectively organized urban practices. In light of these developments, urban dwellers are working creatively with urban scarcity to develop new forms of organizing the city parallel and/or in contrast to centralized, state-based infrastructure, and are forced to do so with a low budget. These include collectively organized urban survival strategies such as car sharing as opposed to car ownership; travelling using online hospitality networks (e.g. CouchSurfing) instead of hotel accommodation (Bialski, 2012; Rosen et. al., 2011); second-hand shopping, cloth swapping and Œdumpster diving¹ versus mass consumption and throwaway culture (Gregson and Crewe, 2003); or DIY-building rather than ready-made (Brodersen, 2003; Drotschmann, 2010). Other examples include urban farming and cooperative gardening (Schmelzkopf, 1995); local currency systems (Hughes, 2005); transport ticket sharing, house squatting (Neuwirth, 2005); up-cycling of sewage and trash, and other forms of re-using and re-valuing urban resources. As the city is made up of multiple forms of organizing, forming an alternative, low-budget solution often means moving away from the more centralized and top-down forms of urban organization into the decentralized and local. These self-organized, collective saving practices all involve Œcomplex encounters, connections and mixtures of diverse hybrid networks of humans and animals, objects and information, commodities and waste¹ (Sheller and Urry, 2006: 2). Here cultures of frugality and sharing (Botsman and Rogers, 2010; Doherty and Etzioni, 2003) emerge, creating new economic forms that have long-term effects on the urban space. Their emergence poses new questions regarding the relation of these practices to capital, the state, and citizen responsibilities of citizen. For example, how do long-term self-organized projects alleviate and replace the responsibility of state-run systems in favor of the entrepreneurial urbanism (Harvey, 1989) and what are its effect in terms of gentrification processes, splintering urbanism and the loss of urban commonalities (Graham and Marvin, 2001; Harvey, 2012; Brenner et al., 2012)? While these practices transform the urban setting, the motivations as to why people and communities deploy new forms of budget organizing are not so clear-cut. Such practices are an expression of a lack of material means and imposed abstinence (Oswalt, 2005; Bude et al., 2011), but also manifestations of conscious decisions to save money and resources. Quite simply, these practices can occur out of necessity and/or choice. What these activities have in common is that they bring on a new awareness of scarcity, low-cost and local production, they produce new forms of value, other measures of calculating, smaller cycles of exchange and coordination and collective organization under the principle of frugal living. Such saving practices engage actors in bottom-up, improvised, flexible, local organization (Pacione, 1997) that creates solidarity and new forms of urban cooperation. To what extent are these practices strictly a middle-class phenomenon, and at what levels of the urban do they force urban dwellers into underground and illegal economies (Venkatesh, 2006; Sharff, 1987)? This ephemera Special Issue asks what new forms of urbanity are produced through the interplay with or under the impression of austerity policies that we can observe all over Europe and the US. Here, we are less interested in the analysis of top-down policies and city governance, but ask how living in the city continues under these circumstances? What new urban forms of organizing emerge based on everyday practices of saving in the city? How are daily living conditions affected by austerity urbanism and what are the self-organized and cooperative practices that people develop in such circumstances? What are systems of reciprocity and redistribution build in this age of austerity? What are the responsibilities of citizens to the city they live in (Massey, 2004)? What are bottom-up progressive politics, networking initiatives? What are alternative urbanities? To this end, we ask for contributions, from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective, that critically analyze the practices, objects, discourses and histories that inform notions of Œlow-budget urbanity¹. We welcome contributions from within the broad study of urban, collective organization  ­ e.g. from management and organization studies, human geography, urban studies, urban theory, city planning, social anthropology, sociology, accounting, political theory ­ with an emphasis on the material and social economy of frugal urban practice. Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following: * Anthropological perspective on everyday practices of saving in the city * Calculating a low-budget to survive in the city * How new practices emerge out of political struggles (e.g. reclaim the streets, squatting, collective gardening) * Collective organization, collective entrepreneurship * New practices that help trace the historical trajectories of low-budget urban life * The way people perform a budget and the materialities that surround this performance * The networks and communities that create an alternative urbanity * Politics of saving money * Alternative forms of collective organizing in the city * Sharing and exchange * Thrift, frugality, conscious saving * Recycling, up-cycling * Low-resource urbanities Deadline for submissions: 18 August 2013 All contributions should be submitted to one of the issue editors: Paula Bialski (, Heike Derwanz (, Birke Otto (, Lena Olaison (, Hans Vollmer ( Please note that three categories of contributions are invited for the special issue: articles, notes, and reviews. All submissions should follow ephemera¹s submissions guidelines ( <> ). Articles will undergo a double blind review process. Please do not hesitate to contact one of the editors with any queries you might have, or to propose a note or review contribution. References Bialski, P. (2012) Becoming intimately mobile: Warsaw studies in culture and society. Warsaw: Peter Lang. Brenner, N., P. Marcuse and M. Mayer, (2012) Cities for people, not for profit: Critical urban theory and the right to the city. London: Routledge. Botsman, R. and R. Rogers (2010) What¹s mine is yours: The rise of collaborative consumption. New York: HarperBusiness. Brodersen, S. (2003) Do-it-yourself work in North-Western Europe. Copenhagen: Rockwool Foundation. Bude, H., T. Medicus and A. Willisch (2011) ÜberLeben im Umbruch: Am Beispiel Wittenberge: Ansichten einer fragmentierten Gesellschaft. Hamburg: Hamburger Edition. Doherty, D. and A. Etzioni (2003) Voluntary simplicity: Responding to consumer culture. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield. Drotschmann, M. (2010) ŒBaumarkt 2.0. Do-it-yourself, Youtube und die Digital Natives¹, Journal of New Frontiers in Spatial Concepts, 2: 18-27. Graham, S. and S. Marvin (2001) Splintering urbanism: Networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition. London: New York: Routledge. Gregson N. and L. Crewe (2003) Second-hand cultures. Oxford: Berg. Harvey, D. (1989) ŒFrom managerialism to entrepreneurialism: The transformation in urban governance in late capitalism¹, Geografiska Annaler, 71(1): 3-17. Harvey, D. (2012) Rebel cities. London: Verso. Hughes, A. (2005) ŒGeographies of exchange and circulation: Alternative trading spaces¹, Progress in Human Geography, 29(4): 496-504. Massey, D. (2004) ŒGeographies of responsibility¹, Geografiska Annaller, 86(1): 5-18. Neuwirth, R. (2005) Shadow cities: A billion squatters, a new urban world. New York: Routledge. Oswalt, P. (2005) Schrumpfende Städte. Band 1: Internationale Untersuchung. Ostfildern-Ruit. Pacione, M. (1997) ŒLocal exchange trading systems as a response to the globalisation of capitalism¹. Urban Studies, 34: 1179-1210. Peck, J. (2012) ŒAusterity urbanism¹, City, 16(6): 626-655. Peck, J., N. Theodore and N. Brenner (2009) ŒNeoliberal urbanism: Models, moments, and mutations¹, SAIS Review, 29(1): 49-66. Rosen, D., P. R. Lafontaine and B. Hendrickson (2011) ŒCouchsurfing: Belonging and trust in a globally cooperative online social network¹, New Media & Society, 13(6): 981-998. Schmelzkopf, K. (1995) ŒUrban community gardens as contested space¹, Geographical Review, 85(3): 364-381. Sharff, J. (1987) ŒThe underground economy of a poor neighborhood¹, in L. Mullings (ed.) Cities of the United States: Studies in urban anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press. Sheller, M. and J. Urry (2006) Mobile technologies of the city. New York: Taylor & Francis. Venkatesh, S. A. (2006) Off the books: The underground economy of the urban poor. Chicago: Harvard University Press. ­­­­­ Dr. Heike Derwanz HafenCity Universität Hamburg Forschungsinitiative Low Budget Urbanität Winterhuder Weg 31 22085 Hamburg Tel: 040 42827-4612 Mail:

Police powers finally kettled by High Court

June 19, 2013 § Leave a comment


FIT cop big camera crop

For years it has been common practice for protesters held in a kettle (police containment) to be forced to submit to police filming and/or provide their details as a condition of leaving. There have been countless incidents in which protesters who have tried (lawfully) to refuse these demands have been threatened with arrest, or told they could not leave the kettle.

This should now change, as the High Court has today ruled that the police have no powers to force people to give their details, or comply with police filming and photography, simply because they are held in a kettle.
Lord Justice Moses criticised police practice in no uncertain terms. He stated,

It is unacceptable that a civilian photographer on instruction from the police should be entitled to obtain photographs for investigation and crime investigation purposes…as the price for leaving a containment. Although the common law has sanctioned containment…

View original post 451 more words

CONFIDENTIAL: Referee Report for Monsieur J.J. Rousseau, ‘Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes’

June 18, 2013 § Leave a comment


Rejection Letters of the Philosophers

Dear Sirs,

I am afraid I cannot recommend for publication the MS Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes, (“Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Amongst Men”). Although compellingly written (indeed frequently bordering on the polemical), my objection to this competently composed study is two-fold: a lack of originality, and a lack of familiarity with relevant recent material and progress in the discipline.

The author takes as his starting point Hobbes’s proposition that man is not by nature sociable, but seeks to explore by a different route how he might nonetheless have come to attain society. This is done via a conjectural history which claims that man in his brute state was indigent and solitary, but over time became competitive and aggressive only after psychological change (Hobbes’s proposition about man’s natural condition drew the right conclusion for the wrong reasons; the analysis of modern…

View original post 317 more words

Long Live Southbank

June 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Things are hotting up in the campaign to save the Southbank undercroft skate park. This is a background blurb from the campaign’s website:

In early March 2013, The Southbank Centre unveiled designs for a £120 million redevelopment of its Festival Wing that revealed their plan to transform the iconic Southbank undercroft skate park into retail units. The Southbank Centre proposes to relocate the revered and popular skate park further down the river, beneath the Hungerford Bridge and build a new skate facility there.

However, the Southbank undercroft is a treasured space, known as the birthplace of British skateboarding and has been home to skateboarders, BMX riders and graffiti artists for the last 40 years. This makes the Southbank undercroft the oldest recognised and still existing skateboarding space in the world. The Southbank Centre’s proposed redevelopment site contains none of these features, has no history and lacks the unique, dynamic architecture that has made the Southbank undercroft a globally renowned street culture space.

Later in March 2013, in response to the Southbank Centre’s redevelopment and relocation plans, a petition directed towards Boris Johnson on brought the issue to national attention. The petition is still growing and has already been receiving overwhelming support, having been signed by over 30,000 people, highlighting the undercroft’s cultural importance to skateboarders as well as the rest of the British public.

Born from support of the undercroft, our campaign, Long Live Southbank, is dedicated to protecting the Southbank, as it is in its current form. We encourage this because we believe its cultural and historical status to be irreplaceable and that its unique architecture and the vitality of the thriving undercroft community should be present for future generations.

There are now loads of videos flying round the interweb on this. One of them that I particularly like is on the Counterfire website. I like this because the skateboarders speaking in it clearly articulate the broader issues around public space that the campaign connects to. Who is public space for, and how are we going to set out the limits of its use? As the people in the video emphasise, this is a massive issue for London right now, with redevelopments within and outside the centre of the city moving really fast. Who decides what development will be allowed and enabled?

These are important questions that I am trying to grapple with in ongoing research, teaching and community engagement, in which a particular focus is the idea of the commons. I don’t have time to write more about this right now; instead I’ll provide a link to the website of the New Cross Commoners, one local group I have been speaking to recently, and quote a recent interview in which they offer an easy-to-understand example of what they mean by the concept of ‘the commons’:

To explain the commons we sometimes use the example of a square: a public square is controlled and regulated from above, from the municipality, which cleans it and also legally exercises restrictions to its use. A public square gets privatized if, for example, it is sold to a company as part of an estate, and in this case the control is often more strict, the enclosure might become physical as well.

The same square becomes a common when people start using it collectively and organize themselves despite and against the control the municipality or the private estate exercise on it. What is the importance of the commons for a neighbourhood like New Cross? New Cross is one of the neighbourhood in London where the cuts to public services are hitting harder: many public library are closed already, now the hospital and the fire station are under threat, council flats are also privatized despite of long waiting list of people and families without a house.

The government is selling off what is public and at the same time encourages citizens to get together and help each other through the rhetoric of the “big society”. An example of a “big society” project is the new type of free schools encouraged by the government, where “free” is such as in neoliberal “freedom”: those schools are “free” to compete, they are not organized by parents, teachers and students, but entrusted by parents to managers whose job is ultimately to guarantee their competitiveness as businesses.

This is a complex issue, and it has to do with the commons, inasmuch commons can be produced in the interstices between “cuts” and “big society”, and against them.

You can sign the petition (which has over 56 000 signatures at the time of writing) here.

How to listen to Foo Fighters

June 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

Was just listening to the Foos’ self-titled album of 1995 on Youtube. The first comment below the video was/is worthy of saving for posterity:

I don’t always listen to this album, but when I do, the neighbors do too.

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for June, 2013 at dropitintheocean.

%d bloggers like this: