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Title: Anarchist heterotopias : post-1968 libertarian communities in Britain and Italy
Author: Lapolla, Luca
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 8663
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores libertarian and anarchist communities – such as social centres, squats, and communes – in the UK and Italy since 1968. It shows how they relate and contribute to wider Left and social movements, despite being often overlooked by historians. Such places functioned as gateways into activism for ‘ordinary people’ and as catalysts to action for existing activists. They have provided a space to experiment and implement radical social alternatives to the status quo. These communities also facilitated the transmission of intergenerational radical memories and traditions. Like Foucauldian heterotopias, such ‘counter-sites’ simultaneously ‘represented, contested, and inverted’ the expressions of the dominant cultures. To explore the effects of this simultaneous replication and inversion of the status quo, this dissertation draws on interviews I have conducted with libertarians involved in these communities. They enable a critical appraisal of the tension between theoretical and actual communities, and of the persistence of mainstream ideas and power relations within these spaces. In particular, this work investigates the variations in the attitude of libertarian activists towards key facets in the life of their communities. I focus especially on the influence space/place and activists have on each other; the perception of time and preservation of collective memory; and the construction of identities and emergence of power relations. The period covered allows for an analysis of experiences of a new type of libertarianism – influenced by (and influencing) countercultures and new social movements. By comparing British and Italian communities within this time and with precedent cases, the dissertation illustrates how different historical and spatial contexts inflect experiences of community living and participation. It thus challenges widespread assumptions inside both the mainstream and the libertarian movement (as well as the cohesiveness of such constructs) and sheds light on the changes and continuities in the life of libertarians within and beyond such communities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available