A self-reproducing movement? Everyday failures and queer solidarities

Ever rising inequalities and hardening conditions of everyday struggles in cities enforce injustice along intersecting dimensions of class, race, and gender. In many urban centres, these conditions have led to collective activities targeting both everyday individual problems such as (un-)employment and a lack of adequate housing while at the same time fostering solidarity building processes within social movements. Silvia Federici (2006) coined the term of a ‘self-reproducing movement’ which emphasises the need to more closely entangle political activism with daily reproductive work. How can social movements comprise urgency for solidarities transgressing one’s own subjectivity and group belonging while looking after oneself in a collective practice of social reproduction? And in the meantime not end up tame and deprived of radical, autonomous, and emancipatory imagination and action? Movements are challenged by institutionalisation into parliamentary politics, police repression, the aim to be inclusive to newcomers (e.g. refugees, migrants) deprived of (full) citizenship rights, establishing a linkage to workers struggles, maintaining transnational networks and the everyday struggles in the local neighbourhoods. Instead of analysing possible reasons for declining and splitting social movements, in this session we seek to learn from current tensions within radical thought and practice.

 A transdisciplinary approach seems necessary if we seek to get involved with (self-)destructive movement tensions, between sturdy efforts and harsh everyday life conditions. Feminism paves the way for recognising care and affect while queer studies encourage for a playful doubting of established categories in social movement research such as: activist vs outsider, supporter vs recipient, radical vs conformist. This ‘politics of care’ makes possible the development of a political consciousness in which caring is invoked as a symbol of power to build a different kind of community and citizenship. Measuring everyday efforts as either successful or not hides the various ways in which practices of solidarity are effective and meaningful. Recently, Jack/Judith Halberstam has made the claim that if success as a category is tainted by the injustice of the dominant system, failure becomes a more attractive terrain. For a self-reproducing movement to flourish, it seems of central concern to re-examine failure both in theory and practice.

 This session seeks to encourage an open discussion on both theoretical and case study centred papers (and those who cannot separate the two). We are keen on deepening the unsettling of social scientific knowledge production through a queering of methods and methodological approaches.

Session convenors will ask all selected contributors to submit a position paper which will then be distributed to all session participants and an invited discussant before the conference. On the basis of the position papers, the session convenors will facilitate a workshop format including: short presentations by all participants, a reaction by the invited discussant, an informed discussion among all participants and a final open discussion with the conference audience.


Penny Travlou, The University of Edinburgh p.travlou@ed.ac.uk

Nina Fraeser, HafenCity University Hamburg nina.fraeser@hcu-hamburg.de