New Spatialities of Grassroots Resistance

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM (MDT)
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Organizers: Nerve Macaspac, Catherine Bender, Marlene Nava Ramos
Chairs: Nerve Macaspac


This session brings together empirical research and creative projects situated in different places around the world that highlight or explore community-led spaces of resistance (broadly conceived) and the quotidian community work required in maintaining these spaces. The papers focus on the “how”, on top of the “where”, “why”, “when” and “so what?” questions. Further, the papers explore the ways in which these practices of alter-geopolitical space-making (Koopman 2011) offer new conceptualizations of spatialities of grassroots collective action that reveal how peripheral communities imagine and build a variety of already-existing possible futures beyond the dominant frameworks of “resistance”, “anarchism”, “socialism”, “communism”, “utopia", "apocalypse,” “no future” and “hope”.

We will think through the ways in which our respective empirical studies of spaces of resistance can help us better understand the new spatialities of grassroots resistance and the kinds of emancipatory futures that are being imagined, enacted and legitimized by peripheral communities. While most studies around spaces of resistance frame the social processes that animate these spaces through Scott's (2008, 2009) notion of “everyday forms of resistance”, directing our attention to power relationships and subaltern agency (Ortner 1995), this framework does not fully capture the transformative consequences of community-led and daily practices in maintaining these spaces. Juris and Sitrin (2016, 32) also remind us that “resistance” carries an “exclusively negative and defensive focus”, obscuring the creative and productive dimensions of grassroots collective action. Thus, other scholars of social movements refer to grassroots agency and politics as “practice movements” (Eckert 2015; Bayat 2013; Holston 2008) and “prefigurative politics” (Kurik 2016; Graeber 2013; Leach 2013; Sitrin 2012; Olin Wright 2010) to help reveal the projective dimensions of collective action by marginalized populations in exploring workable alternatives of the future. These works allow us to attend to the ways in which community-led spaces of resistance operate as what Weizman (2005) calls “self-governing enclaves” that carry the potential to defy the absolute authority of the state while capturing the “world-making potentialities” (Muñoz 2009) evident within the quotidian community work of confronting hegemonic politics.

KT Bender (UCLA), Marlene Nava Ramos (CUNY GC), Nerve V. Macaspac (CUNY CSI)

Bayat, A. 2013. Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East.
Eckert, J. 2015. Practice Movements: The Politics of Non-Sovereign Power. In The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements.
Graeber, D. 2013. The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement.
Holston, J. 2008. Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil.
Juris, J. and M. Sitrin. 2016. Globalization, Resistance, and Social Transformation. In The SAGE Handbook of Resistance.
Koopman, S. 2011. Alter-Geopolitics: Other Securities Are Happening. Geoforum 42(3): 274–84.
Kurik, B. 2016. Emerging Subjectivity in Protest. In The Sage Handbook of Resistance.
Leach, D. K. 2013. Prefigurative Politics. In The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements.
Muñoz, J. E. 2009. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity.
Olin Wright, E. 2010. Envisioning Real Utopias.
Ortner, S. B. 1995. Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal. Comparative Studies in Society and History 37(1).
Scott, J. C. 2008. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance.
Scott, J. C. 2009. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia.
Sitrin, M. A. 2012. Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina.
Weizman, E. 2005. On Extraterritoriality.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Catherine Bender*, UCLA, Between Killjoys and Diverse Economies 17 1:10 PM
Presenter Cary Karacas*, College of Staten Island, City University New York, Visuality and the Japanese Wartime City 17 1:27 PM
Presenter Preeti Sharma*, UCLA, Algorithms and Alt-Labor Movements: Scheduling Issues and Resistance in the Los Angeles Retail Industry 17 1:44 PM
Presenter Nerve V. Macaspac*, CUNY College of Staten Island, Insurgent Peace: Community-led Peacebuilding as Spatial Power 15 2:01 PM
Presenter Marlene Nava Ramos*, CUNY - Graduate Center, Abolish ICE? Dismantling Immigration Confinement in the Era of Carceral Crises and Reforms 17 2:16 PM
Presenter Daniel Gonzalez*, University of Illinois, Documenting the Undocumented: Migrant Refusals in San Francisco’s Sanctuary City 17 2:33 PM

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