720.2 'Fuck middle class... burning and looting tonight!': Forging the activist's body in contemporary Germany

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 12:50 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Bob KURIK , Department of Anthropology, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Malte STIEBER , Department of Political Science, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
Contemporary radical activists in 'postdemocratic' Europe are mostly recruited from the social milieu of middle class. The middle classness is deeply inscribed in their bodies, corporeal dispositions, or better, habituses during the time of socialization. We argue that the process of becoming an activist challenges middle class dispositions and opens possibilities for the neverending transformation of the middle class habitus into an activist habitus. In our paper, we will describe this transformation using the example of the process of forging the activist's body in contemporary radical youths in Germany. The focus of the paper will be twofold in this context. First, we describe the long term transformation dynamics from the pacifist middle class body into the ready-to-fight body of activists. The tendency towards the not-only-symbolic but as well action-oriented body of activists will be grasped. Second, we scrutinize the 'corporeality' and micro-politics of the active body of protesters during direct actions and riots. The examples from our long-term ethnographical research among activists from Germany and their political activities in the Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Mexico, Germany and Greece will be used.