A New 'Europe from Below'? Cosmopolitan citizenship, digital media and the indignados Social Movement
journal contributionposted on 19.11.2015, 11:24 by Maria Luis Rovisco
This article asks whether the Indignados social movement can be seen as a counterpublic that is capable of fostering genuine forms of cosmopolitan citizenship. It is argued that via the artful use of the possibilities of digital media (for example, social networking Websites, live video, blogs), the Indignados social movement goes on to devise new forms of public discourse and organized protest, as well as shared ways of thinking and acting that are capable of fuelling cosmopolitan solidarity. It is suggested that the movement serves as a springboard to analyse how new forms of public communication can foster both a shared sense of European solidarity and cosmopolitan publics. Looking at examples of protest camps in various European settings and their public communication, the article puts forward the claim that the movement’s self-definition as leaderless, global, inclusive and non-hierarchical owes much to its performative dimension. This latter dimension is visible, for instance, in the theatricality of the protest camps, ludic forms of protest (for example, the carnivalesque use of the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes’ mask), and forms of public debate and decision making that are underpinned by embodied practices (for example, silent gestures) as much as by the procedural legitimacy of rational–critical discourse. In targeting the political and financial elites (including those associated to the EU), the performance of protest offers new insights on what it means to be a European citizen against the backdrop of the EU debt crisis, the emergence of unelected governments in Italy and Greece, and the so-called ‘dictatorship of the markets’. We will see that this transnational movement goes on to engender radical modes of citizen participation that while locally rooted are also powerfully shaped and informed by the creative appropriation and reinvention of a shared repertoire of European symbols, meanings and values.