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Title: Navigating the rebel archipelago : orientation, space and communication in the 'autonomous scene'
Author: Gerbaudo, Paolo
ISNI:       0000 0004 2712 6463
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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This work discusses the dynamics of participants' orientation in the "autonomous scene": the space of participation of autonomous movements, anti-capitalist and antiauthoritarian movements practising direct action. My thesis examines how participants make sense of different situations of participation along their trajectory in the scene, and analyses the role played by a variety of communicative practices acting as "means of guidance" or "sources of orientation" inside the scene. It advances a performative understanding of cultural process, by focusing on the changing relationship between spatio-temporal coordination and communication, in a phase marked by the penetration of the Internet and mobile phones. The empirical analysis concentrates on the case of the autonomous scenes in Italy, Germany and the UK and on a series of global protest events attended by autonomous activists in recent years. With the use of participant observation, interviews and textual analysis I reconstruct how participants maintain a sense of place and a sense of direction in collective action and the specificity of different forms of communication that aid orientation. I develop an understanding of the experience of "autonomous activism" as marked by a striving for orientation in which activists are constantly on the brink of getting lost, because of the lack of a strong "guidance" as in the case of authoritarian movements. The autonomous scene comes to be framed as a navigational space in which many trajectories are possible, and it is down to participants to make sense of their own "itinerary". The thesis concludes that the autonomous scene displays forms of togetherness which recall the ephemerality of other antagonistic or subcultural groupings, yet testify to the problems encountered by social movements in the face of a liquid and individualised society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral