Present Futures: Utopia, Prefiguration and Their Meaning in the Refugee Struggle

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Leslie GAUDITZ, University of Bremen, Germany
The current high of anti-hierarchical forms of structure in the organizational practice of social movements since 2011 applies to a wide thematic range of phenomena. This accounts for their connection to a wider societal change in the age of the network society. In protest- and social movement-research these modes of organization are more and more being connected to prefiguration theory, that means the idea that social movement actors try to embody their political visions in their current actions. Through this they transport the future they are fighting for in their present actions.Facing the huge wave of forced migration of the last year, the question of understanding the meaning behind solidarity and support action in Europe is pressing.

Protest culture in the refugee struggle of the last decade often times focuses on the participation possibilities of refugees. In Germany since 2010 we have seen a wave of horizontally organized refugee self-organized struggles and urban camps, in which the enactment of human rights have been claimed and alternative network structures have been built. The values of human rights and solidarity embedded in these practices often times transcend the exclusive logic of the nation-state.

At the ISA 2016 session on “Social Movements and the Future they want?” I will present some empirical findings on solidarity networks where monetary and non-monetary resources are being shared as common goods. On the premise of a Grounded Theory-approach I will thereby theorize on the role of prefiguration and utopia in the enactment of a cosmopolitan solidarity. The research is part of my PhD-project on alternative refugee accommodation in Germany and Greece.