Anxious Ethnography, Abject Resistance
Unsettling Injustice: Re-Articulating Social Conflicts in Barcelona’s Past and Present
Categories: General

On June 8th 2013, the Cinema Patricia Heras opened its doors; 24 hours later, they closed. For one night, 700 activists occupied Barcelona’s abandoned Palace of Cinema to premier a documentary made to shed light on a controversial legal case. In 2006, four young people were beat up and jailed following the injury of a police officer. In the aftermath of the trial, Patricia Heras, one of those accused, took her own life. Demanding a re-opening of the case and decrying systemic problems of corruption and police brutality, the occupation brought out a diverse range of participants: young squatters, indignados, victims’ family members, and iaioflautas – militant grandparents who stood guard outside while the film rolled. These kinds of broad, intergenerational coalitions have become increasingly visible in Spain, as the massive demonstrations and encampments of 2011 prompted a revival of long-dormant neighborhood assemblies, mutual aid networks and a re-integration of autonomous social centers. From celebrations of underground resistance during Franco’s regime, to “anarcho-feminist” walking tours decrying legacies of institutionalized, gender violence – Barcelona’s past is being mobilized to join living generations’ fight against an austerity regime that tells them they have no future. While scholars have rightly pointed out the importance of new protest tactics and technologies (Castells 2013, Juris 2008, 2013) by identifying and articulating with historic struggles, against both recent injustices and deep-rooted inequalities, activists are in Benjamin’s terms, “appropriating a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger,” extending their fight across both space and time.

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