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Title: Subverting space in Occupy London : rethinking territoriality and the geography of social movements
Author: Halvorsen, S. T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5365 8850
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis argues that territoriality is a crucial yet underexplored spatiality of social movements and rethinks it as a dialectical process of struggle, in light of the 2011 wave of occupation-based uprisings. It argues that dominant understandings of territoriality remain trapped within definitions of hierarchical strategies to control people and things in space. Moreover, it is suggested that the predominance of network-based approaches to theorising social movements has provided little room for a detailed engagement with territoriality. The thesis starts by opening up territoriality to the dialectical thought of Henri Lefebvre and John Holloway, and reorients it towards the antagonisms of power-to-against-power-over and the appropriation-against- domination of space. Rather than a top-down strategy of exerting power-over, the thesis argues that territoriality should be seen as inherently dialectical in character, part of an ongoing process of subverting space towards new social relations and values. Based on militant research with Occupy London - consisting of a seven-month ethnography, forty-three in-depth interviews, and archival analysis – the thesis then maps out and explores the ways in which this movement produced territoriality as a key spatiality of its politics. The thesis argues that territoriality was produced through four core sets of practices: taking space; encountering space; holding space; and losing space. It deals with each territorial practice in turn, exploring how they are productive of territoriality, and drawing out central antagonisms. It then argues that paying attention to these practices not only allows us to rethink territoriality as a spatiality of relevance to radical social change, but that it makes us alert to the contradictions and tensions that underlie social movements and the possibilities for negotiating them. In this way the thesis speaks not only to theoretical debates on the geography of social movements but also to practical concerns of contemporary activism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available