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Staging Democracy

The Aganaktismenoi of Greece and the Squares Movement(s)

George Sotiropoulos

Keywords: Aganaktismenoi; class struggle; democracy; emancipatory politics; Occupy movement

Democracy has functioned both as a legitimizing norm and as a practice of resistance. The tension between the two has resurfaced in the recent popular uprisings that took the form of occupations of public squares. This article focuses on the occupation of Syntagma Square in Athens and the Aganaktismenoi movement that enacted it. The event of the occupation turned Syntagma Square into a stage of a “real democracy,” redefining in the process not only basic political notions like that of “public space” and “citizenship” but the political imagination. In this respect, Syntagma Square became a site for the emergence of an emancipatory politics that pointed beyond the current model of liberal democracy. However, the failure of the movement to achieve its goals and withstand repression offers the occasion for some critical reflections on the project of a “real democracy,” the positive political prescription uniting the squares movement.

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