Anarchist Gatherings 1986-2017
Keywords:events, prefiguration, fields, social movements, abeyance, protest, Anarchism
Anarchists gather as well as protest, form organizations, projects and networks. They do so at events that transform movements and are transformed by the ebbs and flows of social life. These events build strategy, create shared identities, and create new and stronger mobilizing networks between activists working on different issues in different places. This paper draws on the relational sociology of Charles Tilly and Pierre Bourdieu to examine the relationships between context, and event. Continental anarchist gatherings emerged during the 1980s when anarchist movements (like other protest oriented movements) were weak, and prefiguration and counterculture were important. Analysing the programs and documents of anarchist gatherings since 1986, it maps 2 main shifts in format, content and function. First, gatherings moved from being a single, continental event that shifted in location to being multiple, local and (often) annual. Second, they moved from an emphasis on identity caucusing and skill building to one of networking and exchange. The paper ties these changes to the broader context, changes in the social movement field (including waves of protest) and changes inside anarchist movements. The paper concludes that examining such events offers insight into movements more generally, and helps to show they help to illustrate micro-shifts in anarchist movement strategy, identity and mobilization.
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