'Fuck May 68, fight now!': Athenian anarchists & anti-authoritarians : militant ethnography & collective identity formation
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 23:20 by Nicholas Apoifis
The re-emergence of anarchist and anti-authoritarian politics in the last two decades has sparked renewed intellectual interest in radical social movements—their form, composition and internal processes. The Athenian anarchist and anti-authoritarian milieu, its geographical and organisational hub a Molotov throw away from the Greek parliament, is a fertile environment to pursue such research. Yet much contemporary academic research on this movement does not directly engage with the activists themselves, typically remaining remote from their on-the-ground struggles against capitalism, the state and the rise of fascism. By contrast, this thesis is based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted amongst the Athenian anarchist and anti-authoritarian movement in 2011. It is premised on a fieldwork methodology emphasising a reflexive collaboration between the ethnographer and activists where, as far as possible, the researcher assumes the role of political activist. With the New Social Movement theoretical paradigm as my point of departure, I argue that the embrace of militant street-protests, as an identity and tactic, helps account for the movement's relative unity. The influence of emotional interactions amongst movement actors is granted particular attention in examining identity formation within the movement. I show how varying shades of anarchic tendencies and ensuing ideological and practical disagreements are, for the most part, overcome in often violent street-protests. Thus militant protest action is more than an expression of collective grievance, desire for retaliation against police injustice and a manifestation of anarchist and anti-authoritarian praxis. Rather, these actions are an important element in the on-going construction and reconstruction of Athenian anarchist and anti-authoritarian collective identity, the main conclusion of the thesis.