|The Syntax of Social Movements: Jam, Boxes and other Anti-Mafia Assemblages
This contribution calls attention to the values of assemblage thinking for the study of contentious economies. A syntactical perspective can make visible social arrangements that are otherwise difficult to represent in traditional social movement categories. With the help of a jar of jam, an object that has meaningful entanglements in anti-camorra activism in Campania (Italy), the article begins by empirically illustrating instances of mobilisation that disrupt relationships of mafia dependency. The focus lies on the force of composition, the syntax of contention. The second section moves on to explore the theoretical backdrop of the analysis, and does so by suggesting some possible points of dialogue between social movement studies and assemblage thinking. These are the themes of network, conflict and identity. In various ways, assemblage thinking might be seen as diametrically opposite to many movement theories. However, these traditions share many interests: both are essentially concerned with grasping how different orders come to be, what makes them last and what makes them fall apart. Despite these similarities, these two traditions have not spoken systematically to each other. As divergences in social movement studies have significantly revolved around hierarchies (i.e. do political opportunities, personal gains or culture matter most to movement development?), I conclude by suggesting that assemblage approaches might have something to offer: they shift the perspective from ‘what matters most’ to ‘how it comes to matter.’
|Performativity and grassroots politics: On the practice of reshuffling mafia power
Recent uses of performativity have been engaged with bridging the gap between the economy and politics. The concept of performation has for instance been used to enable discursive and material assemblages that challenge this dichotomy, with the general aim of transforming the economy. While the overall intent of this article is to contribute to this bridging, its direction of travel is the opposite: to bring the economy into politics. Specifically, it situates the notion of performativity within studies on grassroots politics in a material sense. First, it discusses some of the leading scholarship on grassroots movements, focusing on their take on the economy. It moves on to suggest that some of the problems that are identified can be addressed using performativity theory, the benefits of which are discussed in the second part. Finally, it empirically illustrates the theoretical discussion by analysing the performativity of the discourses, things and people that are jointly fighting the Mafia today. The article places social movement studies in dialogue with scholarship which is preoccupied with the economic-political cleft, in order to encourage thinking of the economy as a space for political possibility and social struggle, rather than seeing it as a place of capitalocentrism, structural exploitation and inescapability.
|From marching for change to producing the change: reconstructions of the Italian anti-mafia movement
The article discusses the shifts in Italian anti-mafia activism from its origins in the nineteenth century to today. The claims, the modes of action and the actors involved have in factvariedconcurrently with the metamorphosis of the mafia, the Italian state and society. Previous waves of anti-mafia protestwere prevalently class-based and often followed the massacre of heroes who stood up to corruption. On the other hand today’s panorama is characterised by a growing number of civil society organisations thatare producing commercial products which contrast the mafia economy through thecreation of an alternative market. The analyses draw on existing literature and on myown qualitative data collected from May-September 2014. The concluding remarks reflect on the shape that anti-mafia activism takeswithin the capitalist market economy.