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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Katy Hayward – “Visibility and Violence: Insights from managing contentious events in Belfast”

Time and Place: Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore – Palazzo Strozzi, Florence – Room Filippo Strozzi, 7 November 2017, 2.30pm

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The association of territorial space with particular communal and political identities infuses much thinking about the nature of conflict in Northern Ireland. Evidence for this is found in the persistent inter-group tensions and violence prompted by cultural parades and commemorations in certain areas. Conflict management in this area has centred on trying to balance competing claims regarding ‘rights’ in and to territorial space. This paper is based on research that originated with the ESRC-funded ‘Conflict in Cities and the Contested State’ project and has produced eight years of unbroken ethnographic fieldwork on one of the most contentious annual events in Belfast, that of the Orange Order through a particular part of North Belfast (Ardoyne). It draws on data that includes field observations from different perspectives and locations, interviews (including ‘walking interviews’), media coverage, official documents and photographic and video archives of the events in question.

Our hypothesis here is that it is not the built environment itself nor its symbolic significance that is of most importance here, but rather the visibility of the various subjects during the contentious events. Visibility may be understood as a field of social action through which territoriality is established, resisted and explored. Drawing on Brighenti’s (2010) insights, we illustrate the three forms of public visibility at work in this context: Spectacle, Recognition, Control. In so doing, we see that events are made contentious by the type of visibility that participants at an event are seeking and are given at any particular point. By better understanding the type of visibility at work during a contested event as it relates to the position and action of any subject group (paraders, protestors, observers, police), we can better understand the triggers for violence and the conditions for effective conflict management.

News

06/10/2017

Open Democracy Post - "The streets will always be ours" - Catalonia, a referendum from below

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Although some still conceive of the referendum as launched by a pro-independence vanguard, the elite story falls short of explaining the resilient participation of a large part of Catalan civil society. This post at Open Democracy addresses this issue from a different angle.

24/09/2017

New Publication Out - "Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis"

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A timely publication to shed light on the link between social movements that formed as a consequence of the 2008 financial crash and the referendums' dynamic and results.

25/08/2017

Donatella Della Porta con Yanis Varoufakis alla 13esima conferenza ESA

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Wednesday, August 30th (8pm-9.30pm) professor della Porta, who directs the Center on Social Movement Studies(Cosmos), will dialogue with Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Minister of Finance during the first Tsipras government, about the future of Europe and the social consequences of neoliberal economies

Publications

Monograph - 2018

Social Movements and Civil War : When Protests for Democratization Fail

Donatella della Porta, Teije Hidde Donker , Bogumila Hall , Emin Poljarevic
This book investigates the origins of civil wars which emerge from failed attempts at democratization. The main aim of this volume is to develop a theoretical explanation of the conditions under which and the mechanisms through which social movements' struggles for democracy ends up in civil war.

Monograph - 2017

Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis

Donatella Della Porta, Francis O'Connor, Martin Portos and Anna Subirats Ribas
Out now "Social movements and referendum from below", the first book that bridges the gap between social movement studies and research on direct democracy. It draws on social movement theory to understand the nature of popular mobilisation in referendums using unique case studies such as the referendum on independence in Scotland, the consultations on independence in Catalonia, the Italian referendum on water, the referendum on the Troika proposals in Greece and the referendum on the debt repayment in Iceland.