Abstracts

Yiannos Katsourides, University of Cyprus: The political mobilization of south European Radical Left

The proposed research purports to study the development of radical Left politics in four countries of southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus) amidst a totally new political, social and economic environment, which I term ‘coercive Europeanisation’; i.e., a specific top-down process of change at the national level emanating from the impact of EU enforced decisions, which takes the form of ‘one size fits all’. South Europe was severely hit by the economic crisis and EU-dictated recovery measures (e.g., bail-outs). Not solely confined to external influences EU decisions have initiated structural and cultural transformation in these countries nevertheless, and form the main background for the explanation of political mobilization; i.e., the structure of political opportunities. The aim is to identify the causal relationship between EU decisions, on the one hand and domestic social and political change on the other. Of particular importance is to identify how these grievances and processes of social change emanating from discontent at EU decisions were structured into different schemes and patterns of radical Left party-political mobilization. Theoretically the aim is to advance the notion of Europeanisation taking into account the newly defined ‘state of exception’ where decisions of lasting consequence are shielded from public debate. The emphasis on the radical Left is timely since it has emerged as a major new actor and challenger in political systems in most southern European countries aided by the discredit of old, mainstream political actors and particularly social democracy. Using qualitative research methods this study aims to address questions about the level and type of radical Left party-political mobilization for each one of the four countries examined. Such work lies in the intersection of two research traditions: political parties’ and social movements and ambitions to draw conclusions that can travel beyond the scope of south Europe.

Costas Christodoulides, Alexander College:  Widening “Core-Periphery” disparities in the new European Monetary Union: Forms of institutional exploitation in Southern European States

In the main part of this study, a comparative analysis of socioeconomic changes and indicators is conducted. Τhe author considers actual implications on four peripheral countries under a European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Economic Adjustment Process, namely Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. Findings of macroeconomic nature are compared to those of Germany and France which are schematically seen as European Monetary Union centres of power. Correlations of the outcomes of these provisions are then examined in comparison to the overall philosophy of the new EMU. The data concern social welfare, wages, investment, profit share of non-financial enterprises, policies of privatization, public debt across time that is prior and after Economic Adjustment Programmes and the EMU restructuring. Initial results demonstrate that despite differences among countries, they tend to confirm a widening gap of development and exploitation to the advantage of highly developed EMU centre countries at the expense of peripheral EMU countries. But class structure and balance of power within peripheral societies do not remain intact. The ruling classes in the face of corporations take advantage of new political and social conditions whilst the labor is severely affected. These tendencies, is suggested, reflect the main characteristics of the transformative structural changes intended at the nucleus of the EMU.

Alexis Antoniou, Boğaziçi University: Nationalism, Policing and Inequality: Understanding Outbursts of Violence Using the 1931 Cyprus Riots.

What is the effect of nationalism, policing and inequality on riots? In our effort to understand the importance of those parameters we utilize a novel data set, where all three factors were present. We explore in detail two under-researched issues that have wider ramifications: the deterrence and the provocation effect of policing. We find that nationalism and inequality are the two most important determinants in these riots, while the presence of police acted as a catalyst for riots. In contrast to the theoretical findings of the literature, we find that the police deterrence effect little did it matter.

Chris Kostopoulos, University of Leicester: Constraining Democratic Debate: The Greek Memoranda 2010-2015

This research addresses the important role of the media in constructing the debate around crucial political issues. More specifically, the case under investigation is the reporting of the three Memoranda of Understanding by the Greek press, and how the media formed the debate through the frames they applied in their news messages. The research presents original data from a framing analysis conducted on news articles from the Greek press, comparing them with the announcements of the mainstream political parties of the country. This paper aims to demonstrate that the media constructed a highly polarized debate, albeit within very constricted limits and between strategically converging opinions, legitimatizing the political logic of capitalism in the process.

Furthermore, by presenting data from interviews with the journalists that reported on the memoranda this research also sheds light on the process through which the workforce of the press is managed into producing information that is favourable to the class that owns the media. More specifically, the frame building process is analyzed through the lens of political economy to explain how the structures of the media ownership and market, as well as the structures of politics are interacting determining the editorial stance of the media. Furthermore, the impact of those structures on the working practices of journalists through processes of labour elimination and intensification is demonstrated, in order to account for the production of information in the country.

Nick Karfakis, Alexander College: An Examination of the Experience of Unemployment: The Case of Cyprus

The experience of unemployment has been extensively studied (eg. Lane, 2009; Wanberg, 2012; Georgiades, 2015), though not always critically. This research examines the experiential side of unemployment by focusing on Cyprus. Set up in a context of financial crisis, it investigates unemployment’s relationships with wider processes of individualisation and de-politicisation. The research will take place in both public and private job agencies in Larnaca and Nicossia. It will involve a mixed methods approach, and more specifically a combination of semi-structured interviews and participant observations at support groups in the aforementioned locations. Interviews with participants will be limited to blue-collar job seekers of both genders, between 30 and 60 years of age, who are looking for work in the private sector. Drawing on Sharon’s (2007; 2013) work on long-term unemployment, the main purpose of this research is to examine how structural conditions shape subjective responses and if and to what degree job seeker’s exhibit individualised understandings of their labour-market difficulties.

Matteo Ciccognani, University of Leicester: Re-Emabracing the Horror Vacui of Cinematic Self-Reflexivity in the Hyper-Subjectivised Era of Mediatic Representations

This presentation reflects upon metacinematic gestures as film segments which exhibit the mediality of cinema and open up a discourse on its technical, linguistic and organisational implications. In particular, I dwell on Agamben’s idea of gesture as the exhibition of a mediality, or a process of making a means visible as such, by correlating it with Benjamin’s conceptualisation of gestures as interrupting actions which break the illusionistic flow of the classical representational grammar. Janet Harbord has outlined how the subversive nature of gesture can give birth to an ex-centric cinema and she has also problematised how gestures retain the potentiality of a (filmic) body liberated from the biopolitical expropriation operated by the anthropological machine. However, self-reflexive procedures have been gradually absorbed by mediatic representation for their attractiveness strictly resides in the narcissistic use of social networks and in the self-aestheticisation at the core of the construction of subjectivities to the point that this result in a depreciation of the subversive power of self-reflexive patterns in media and forms of artistic expression. The pervasiveness of these practices involves every single aspect of the private sphere and no more stand for an exceptional, experimental contingency, but rather as a sign of the zeitgeist of late capitalist biopolitical project. Such new form of narcissism, which is yet to be thoroughly explored, situate media as an indispensable instrument of self-scrutiny and self-recognition. These implications will be compared with the experimental and subversive domain of self-recognition enabled by the protagonists of films such as The Grizzly Man (Herzog, 2005), The Act of Killing (Oppenheimer, 2012) and Shooting Ourselves (Cynn, 2016).

Marco Checchi, DeMondfort University: The primacy of resistance – An exploration of the organisational creativity of resistance exceeding its confrontational stance.

The concept of resistance has received a renewed academic attention after the cycle of struggles in 2011, ranging from the Arab spring to the Spanish indignados, the Greek aganaktismenoi occupations, the Occupy movement and the UK riots. The legacy of these events has inspired a multitude of resistances against austerity, borders, gender discrimination and so on. In this presentation I will focus on the recent strike in UK universities against the new pension plan and how it expanded as an active resistance against the general process of marketisation of Higher Education. I will discuss how to conceptualise resistance today in relation to these contemporary forms of resistance and their creative potential. I will argue that resistance is not primarily about direct confrontation but about changing the conditions in which power operates by creating alternative social relations and alternative ontologies of existence.

Traditional accounts of political resistance often conceptualise it as a sporadic outburst against power. When we think of resistance we immediately wonder: against what? This depicts resistance as subordinated, reactive, negative and bound to defeat. Instead, drawing on Michel Foucault’s work, I propose to radically invert this relation between power and resistance. The primacy of resistance intends to highlight the creative character of resistance over its oppositional and reactive stance. The hypothesis is that opposition does not constitute a defining feature of resistance, but its accidental destiny. A banner from a student occupation summarised this point brilliantly: “Rather be in lectures”. This does not mean that resistance does not imply a moment of opposition. Rather, we need to wonder whether and how to bracket this moment of opposition in order to fully appreciate and foster the creative and transformational dynamics that resistance sets in motion: solidarity, transversal connections, care, organisational creativity, cooperation. If resistance needs to be against something, it is primarily against the against that follows it.

George Kokkinidis, University of Leicester:  Spaces of possibilities: Workers’ self-management and solidarity networks in Greece

This paper will discuss a range of socio-economic experiments in Greece, expressed through a range of collective actions, and reflect on their potentialities to constitute a challenge to the dominant economic and political order. I will focus specifically on the organising processes and practices in workers’ collectives as well as their established networks of solidarity because of their multiple objectives (political and economic). I will argue that if the dominant order is legitimized through socio-spatial relations, and the current economic and political regimes are normalized through particular modes of spacing and ordering, then it is also through socio-spatial reconfiguration that new modes of resistance could emerge. With this in mind, I will reflect on how they challenge conventional management practices while they operate within capitalism and at the same time offer alternative ways to organize work and life. Operating within capitalism presents them with constant tensions between the desire to remain non-capitalist and a shift to a more capitalist model of organizing. Yet these tensions are addressed in creative ways through a range of practices that give emphasis on autonomy, egalitarianism, horizontality and direct democracy; practices that offer a useful template for anti-capitalist critiques and post-capitalist imaginaries.

Leandros Savvides, University of Leicester: Hackerspaces as spaces of representation: capitalist colonization of culture or cracks within the system?

Hackerspaces, Makerspaces and Fab Labs are spaces of cultural reproduction of hacker and maker ethics and practices in seemingly autonomous and self-organized ways. They arose at the fringes of leisure and production from the development of late capitalism networks of production and consumption practices. They consist of people that are constantly creating, building, modulating, tinkering, mixing existing technologies and structures but at the same time forced to adopt institutional logic as a way to integrate and spread. They are in other words “other” spaces (Hetherington 1997), they constitute a departure from what could be associated as a space of division of labour and production. Hackerspaces, Makerspaces and Fab Labs flourished in times of economic and social crises and are regarded as spaces between resistance to the diminishing quality of consumer life and increasing precarity of “freelancing creative”. Some sort of mystical outlook, prohibits the outside viewer to define them. They are rather being enacted as STS experiences and practices that can be included in a wide variety of narratives. The post-industrial imaginaries that governed the developed world since the 1970s has passed its time. Within Hackerspaces Generation M (Papadopoulos 2016}, learn how to build, how to create with material using (among others) one of the most potentially disruptive manufacturing technologies: 3D printing. Although much of its culture seems to suggest an alternative production paradigm either as an evolution or in stark contrast to the existing one, nonetheless it appeals to the tech industry. After a short theoretical discussion on imaginaries, the paper presents the case of “Fabulous St. Pauli” Fab Lab, its cultural, political and economic significance to a new world that emerges within cities. Are they part of capitalist endeavor of colonizing tech cultures or cracks within the system?

Chrystalleni Loizidou (Hack 66), Thrasos Nerantzis (Hack 66), Evanthia (Evi) Tselika (University of Nicosia): Thinking communally – technology, art and social change

This presentation will examine an alternative to dominant systemic production mechanisms that is being developed under the auspices of the free & open source movement, and in contrast to market-oriented production models and labour practices.

As a case study the presentation will focus on how this model is being tested out locally, and in practice, through Phygital, an Interreg BalkanMed EU funded programme between Greece, Albania and Cyprus, with the purpose of aggrandizing peer collaboration methods and projecting the alacrity of the community with all the concomitant benefits. The project is applying a ‘design global – manufacture local’ model, which sees the creation of community-led makerspaces that work with their wider communities and open source principles. In Cyprus, a collaboration between Hack66, the Municipality of Lakatamia and University of Nicosia Research Foundation will see the realization of a community-led grassroots makerspace.

The thematic, focus and methodology underpinning the creation of the makerspace at the local level orbits social and community art practices and our wider concerns interweave issues around social change, technology, social art practices, and the urban-suburban space. Particularly important in this process is the gathering of people with different disciplinary backgrounds (from fields of technology, art-design, makers, DIY experts and more) in the spirit of open collaboration and peer-learning, to work on free & open source prototypes with the possibility of developing technologies towards the common good in a social and environmental sense.

The effect of technology in relation to community social arts and design practices will be discussed in the presentation. We will consider community and social art practices, how the arts feature within the third sector and how contemporary cultural practices involve communities and the impact of technology. Debates around surveillance, openness, software freedom, knowledge and learning inform us as to the ways we can think and reflect on what is means to design/create globally and be committed to acting locally.

Gaia Zaccagni, University of Cyprus: «What kind of life is this?» Rebetika of Crisis

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, during a period of intense economic crisis and after the huge refugee wave of 1922, Athens, the Greek capital, and Pireas, the main port of the country, are the attraction’s point for the most different classes of population seeking to improve their live’s conditions, trying to define their personal space, creating a lasting sense of the ephemeral in all areas of its action. The songs we chose are just about harsh living conditions, about poverty, repression, about the legacy between legitimacy and illegality, about the consequences of the economic / political / social crisis on humans as individual and social beings, about the crisis in love’s and relationship’s matters