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The European Union and Beyond

Connections and Shared Meanings: From Dawn to Dusk? (G. Pleyers & F. Khosrokhavar)

Geoffrey Pleyers
Université catholique de Louvain
Geoffrey Pleyers
Université catholique de Louvain

In the first stage of this research, we focused on connections and “commonalities” in terms of symbols and meaning across movements in the Arab world, Europe and the United States in a period of rise and wide media coverage (Glasius & Pleyers, 2013). In the second stage, which will be presented in this paper, we propose to analyze if and how these connections, commonalities and resonances are maintained and mobilized by activists in a less successful stage of their movements. We will particularly focus on activists’ debates on the impact of their movements in terms of institutional politics. Two kinds of connections across movements will be analyzed.

1. Connections and diffusions
Connections across movements in different countries were celebrated by activists’ banners, blogs, videos and actions. To what extend are these connections mobilized in uneasy internal debates in a “decreasing” or “less successful” phase of the movement? Do they integrate arguments from other countries in local or national movements’ internal debates?

2. Shared meanings, logics of action and challenges.
Some categories of young and women activists in the Arab world as well as most of the participants in the indignados and occupy camps have implemented a culture of activists with strong subjective and prefigurative dimensions. Our hypothesis is that they may now face similar challenges connected to the gap between successful first waves of protests (e.g. the fall of the Mubarak regime, wide media coverage…) and their movements’ current outcomes in institutional politics.
Our analysis relies on fieldwork research in Iran and in the Arab world (F. Khosrokhavar) and interviews with of activists of the indignados and occupies movements in Barcelona, New York City, London, Paris and Brussels (G. Pleyers). Additional material will be provided by analyses of websites and mailing-lists.
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