From Left to Right: A Visual Ethnographic Reading of Social Movements and the Right to the City in Thessaloniki, Greece: May 14-19, 2018.

Authors: James Baker*, University Of Nebraska - Lincoln, Kelly A Clancy, Nebraska Wesleyan University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Human Rights, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: critical geographies, visual methodologies, ethnography, refugee crisis, Greece, social movements, protest, right to the city
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper interrogates Lefebvre’s right to the city through a visual ethnography of social movements in Thessaloniki, Greece in May, 2018. Based on photographs and field notes taken surrounding Thessaloniki's central axis between Via Ignatia and Upper Aristotelous Square, we reimagine the right to the city through visual means as a knitting together of subjects, materials, and traces in a multivocal, dissonant “revelation” of rights. We consider the placemaking tactics of the Thessaloniki Pride march and its appropriation of Upper Aristotelous Square as a space for, as Lefebvre elicits, “simultaneity and encounter” through book exchanges, pop-up information kiosks, and shops proffering household wares produced by autonomous workers’ collectives around Thessaloniki. Yet this enactment occurs along a persisting continuity of displacement and marginalization, evidenced by a fracas observed within a migrant encampment across the square; we explore the right to the city here as a condition of the possible, where margins meet, situating a constellation of arguments for subjecthood and citizenship in urban space. Finally, we analyze claims of rights of return of two groups - Palestinian Greeks and Pontic Greeks – as social movements responding to political violence. In the former case, we offer a visual reading of a peaceful rally commemorating the 70th anniversary of Palestinian Nakba Day in the aftermath of the murder of unarmed protestors in the West Bank, while in the latter case, we unpack the assault on the mayor of Thessaloniki during a march honoring Pontic Greek victims of genocide during World War I.

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