Bjarke Skærlund Risager

PhD Student

Bjarke Skærlund Risager
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PhD Dissertation: Social Movements in Times of Crisis: The Production of Space, Place, and Subjectivity in Crises of Economy and Democracy since 2011

In my PhD dissertation, I ask how progressive social movements from 2011 onwards have imagined and enacted alternatives to crises of economy and democracy and to the ways in which the elites have managed theses crises. Focusing on the spaces and places of the movements, I answer this question through a series of articles dealing with various social movements and protest events with a focus on the spaces and places of these: the Occupy Wall Street movements and the Egyptian uprising of 2011, the anti-austerity Blockupy coalition in Europe, the Danish student movement against neoliberal transformation of the university, and the anti-eviction and housing movement in Spain.

The approach is interdisciplinary; critical social movement theory, human geography, and political economy constitute the theoretical bedrock. From this emerges a framework in which the spatial agency of social movements is asserted. The assertion that social movements should be conceived as the makers and producers of alternative visions and practices of society runs through the dissertation as methodological principle. This provides a theoretical contribution to social movement studies in general and to the growing body of literature on social movements and space in particular, both of which, I argue, have not paid sufficient attention to the question of agency.

The dissertation employs a range of methods, the combination of which seeks to give a multifaceted answer to the research question of the dissertation: textual analysis, semi-structured in-depth interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and theoretical discussion and argumentation. The variety of methods allows me to explore the question of the spatial imaginaries and enactments of social movements through the dimensions of materiality and corporeal action, discourse and deliberation, and lived experiences and everyday life.

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