Activism, moment, place: heterotopia of deviance and environmentalism

Newlands, Maxine, and Voela, Angie (2010) Activism, moment, place: heterotopia of deviance and environmentalism. In: Abstracts from the Waiting for the Political Moment Conference. From: Waiting for the Political Moment Conference, 17 June 2010, Utrecht, the Netherlands. (Unpublished)

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The place occupied by eco-activism is simultaneously a "mythic and real contestation of the space we live in". It is contesting a non-tangible capitalism and hopes to create a space of ecological politics organised around environmental values. Mainstream media and political parties place environmental activism in a heterotopia of deviance (Foucault's term), by denigrating both their environcentric agenda and the actual spaces of eco-activism (recent climate camps, squatted land etc). But things seem to have changed. Eco-activism is shifting it's place of protest, and engaging with the mainstream media in their own terms and in their own space, eco-activists are attempting to develop a counter-site to the heterotopia of deviance. This is the result of a long-term process. For many activists however, the big 'moment', occurs in 2005 when the Climate Camp gives the media an open invitation onto site, marking a 'turning point' in the relations of power between activists and journalists and a passage from passive to active representation of their cause.

This paper examines the UK-based environmental activism movement and looks at the coming-into-being of the political 'moment' in relation to 'place', using Foucault's idea of heterotopia and its affinity to the structuralist concept of the 'non-place' as place of contestation and resistance (Bosteels 2003). It explores how the camp and the site of protest shift from spaces of deviance to truly heterotopic space which challenge the 'emptying out' of the eco-activists' political endeavours by mainstream press but also accommodate differences of opinion by different generations of activists who do not always agree on the movement's (best) relation to the press.

A 'moment' therefore emerges retrospectively and in the collective accounts of diverge groups as the inaugural shift from one mode of being-operating (deviance) to another (true heterotopia). The 'moment' is the point at which agency becomes possible. It is therefore over-determined (historically and spatially) and involves a subtle exchange between 'the place' and 'the place-holder' (Bosteels) which warrants both a Foucauldian and a Psychoanalytic reading as well as a 'pragmatic' one for the prospect of turning sites of protest into permanently radical (revolutionary, contestation-al) spaces.

Item ID: 35221
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
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Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2014 01:27
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160699 Political Science not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9403 International Relations > 940399 International Relations not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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