The spatialization of democratic politics: Insights from indignant squares.

Maria Kaika, Lazaros Karaliotas

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This article departs from accounts that either deify Indignant Squares as a model for 21st century political praxis or demonize them as apolitical/post-political crowd gatherings. By performing a closer ethnographic reading of the Indignants’ protests at Athens’ Syntagma Square, we depict the Indignant Squares as a consensual and deeply spatialized staging of dissent, which nevertheless harbours in its underbelly internally conflicting and often radically opposing political imaginaries. A closer reading of the organization, practice and discourses that evolved at Syntagma Square unearths the existence of not one, but two distinct Indignant Squares, both at Syntagma, each with its own topography (upper and lower square), and its own discursive and material practices. Although both squares staged dissent, they nevertheless generated different (opposing, even) political imaginaries. The ‘upper square’ often divulged nationalistic or xenophobic discourses; the ‘lower square’ centred around more organized efforts to stage inclusive politics of solidarity. The paper suggests that, rather than focusing on the homogenizing terms Indignants’ movement/Indignant Squares we should instead be trying to develop a more nuanced theoretical understanding and a more finely grained empirical analysis of the discursive and spatial choreographies of these events. This, we argue, would allow us to go beyond either celebrating them as new political imaginaries, or condemning them as expressions of a post-political era. Talking of ‘Indignant Squares’ in the plural helps one explore in more grounded ways both the limitations and the possibilities that these events offer for opening up (or closing down) democratic politics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Urban and Regional Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Athens, crisis, democratic politics, dissent, Greece, Indignant Squares, occupy, post-politics, radical


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