The Rhizomatic Epoch of Contention: From the Zapatistas to the European Anti-Austerity Protests

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Peter FUNKE, University of South Florida, USA
Tod WOLFSON, Todd Wolfson Rutgers University, USA
This paper makes four central arguments. First, the occupy- and anti-austerity protests that swept the globe in general and Europe in particular are informed by a novel, rhizomatic movement logic and are constitutive parts of a broader rhizomatic epoch of contention, reaching back to at least the EZLN and the Global Justice Movement of the 2000s. Second, in order to appreciate and better understand the homology between these waves making up the current epoch of contention such as the EZLN/Global Justice Movement and European anti-austerity protests/Arab Spring/Occupy Wall Street, technological and capitalist dynamics and developments need to be brought (back) into the analysis. As such, this paper argues, that this rhizomatic epoch of contention has been emerging in conjunction with shifting dynamics of neoliberal capitalism and technological changes as well as in conversation with older forms of left social movement politics and the respective capitalist structures conditioning them. Third, the paper’s epochal perspective is also well positioned to begin contextualizing and re-emphasizing the interactions between in particular Latin American and European groups and activists since the 1970/1980s, indicating the vital role of European-Latin American interactions for the development and proliferation of the currently dominating rhizomatic logic. Fourth, in truly rhizomatic ways, the current instantiation of this logic in Europe has adapted or seems to be adapting key tenets of earlier instantiations. Echoing developments in Latin America (“pink tide”), current European mobilizations no longer sidestep state institutions as they used to during the so-called new social movement wave of the 1970s or the Global Justice Movements of the 2000s but seek to engage them including through the founding of new movement-powered parties or alliances that have of recent won general elections such as Syriza in Greece.