Project

Project: Movements of Europe. Transnational social movements and fault lines of solidarity

Our common perspective

(german, spanish and french version see below)

Transnational integration of governance and capital, coinciding with an ongoing economically biased policy, nationalistic tendencies and democratic deficits within the EU, have made the formation of translocal social movement networks ever more important. Globalisation and digitalisation enable networks that are more advanced. Especially feminist, climate justice, and right to the city initiatives are connecting themselves translocally, within and beyond Europe. They are responding to global problems of climate change, a translocal urban crisis of affordable housing or precarious informal work in the field of social reproduction. Moreover, they are resisting the transnational right-populist movements’ coordinated challenge of women’s reproductive rights.

Importantly, such movements are not merely translocally connected, but rooted in local struggles and protest practicies. In doing so, these translocal networks deal with local consequences of EU-politics. At grassroots levels that sometimes address the EU’s political institutions in their actions and demands, these networks are establishing transnational political movements and debates which negotiate European answers on current social and ecological questions. Thus, the emerging translocal networks of social movements demand and practice democratization and solidarity within different spatial and political scales. Our project researches movements that make the connection between social problems on local and translocal levels. The focus is on the following questions:

  • How do local movements try to organise and locate themselves within the European area?
  • To what extent do translocal networks enhance local activism? Do conflicting goals and tensions emerge between local, national and transnational contexts?
  • How do local and translocal initiatives behave towards transnational regulatory contexts, especially towards the institutions of the EU?
  • What kind of cross-movement perspectives arise from the current translocal networks?

In order to discuss these questions, we examine the current cross-border perspectives of social movements. Working with localized groups, we study how they enhance or are enhanced by translocal perspectives and networks. Meanwhile, we examine emerging conflicts and limits of translocal activism. Throughout, we pursue a collaborative research agenda, which means an ongoing exchange and common knowledge production of social sciences and political practice. With this approach our project cooperates with associated political initiatives.


We will adapt our common perspective to the following focal points:

The feminist strike and its translocal networking

Recently, the feminist strike emerged via a powerful translocal network that associates different feminist issues and modes of feminist struggle and critique. Driven by the desire to resist current regressive and authoritarian tendencies on social and political levels, feminist strikes set out to challenge the power of national or local institutions and develop common demands for participation. Informed by interviews with activists, building an ongoing collaborative discussion process, we would like to gain insights to the following questions: how do European feminist networks relate to local initiatives? Do they (re)develop different forms of solidarity? What (new) forms of protest and critique do they enhance? What kinds of tension and conflict emerge within translocal feminist strategies? Furthermore, we will extend these questions to local studies of several feminist struggles. The answers we find will be discussed with actors of social sciences and political practice. Associated with our project are the Darmstadt and Jena groups of the “federal feminist strike” network in Germany.

Urban Social Movements and Housing Movements

The aim of our research is twofold: first, to gain insight in the ways urban social movements connect and organize on the European level; second, we conduct local case studies that show how social movement groups refer to European issues in their activities. In particular, we are interested in possible conflicts between a sense of place among local communities and a wider/European sense of place pushed by movement activists. In context of our research, we cooperate with the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City (https://housingnotprofit.org) aiming at cooperative forms of knowledge production.

Transversal and translocal struggles across ecology and care

Our research focuses on one of the burning issues of our times: the connections between struggles around ecology and care. The importance of this connection has been demonstrated harshly by the pandemic and will increase in urgency with deepening global warming. In relation to these problems, we will follow practices and struggles around ecology (as encompassing climate struggles and agroecology particularly) and care (as encompassing feminist struggles, strikes, and economies of care). Looking at current social movements and their interconnections at a European level and beyond, we follow the articulation of common strategic horizons and common notions for ecosocial feminist transformation. Our interest lies in the development of shared claims for solutions and new practical as well as economic paradigms, that point towards transformative and translocal horizons of social reproduction and care-ful interdependence.

Our fieldwork approach is based in militant and feminist research methodologies and builds up research questions collaboratively with social movement actors, often via the production of podcasts. We work mainly across Vienna and Barcelona. Key actors we will be talking to pertain to La Via Campesina Europe and the ÖBV in Austria, different agroecological and solidarity agriculture networks in Austria, urban food commoning and distribution projects in Vienna, struggles for seasonal migrant agricultural worker’s rights (like the Sezionieri campaign in Austria or the feminist Jornalera’s struggles in Spain), the collectivization of land (via models like the Ackersyndikat in Germany), links between the feminist and climate strikes in Barcelona, ecofeminist and food sovereignty networks in Barcelona, as well as climate justice networks across Barcelona, Vienna and beyond.

Tensions between local issues and translocal perspectives

The ways in which we define problems on different scales – local, national and transnational – can result in political tensions and entail conflicting goals within social movements as well as civil society. Examples are local conflicts to do with fossil energy production or land speculation in rural areas. Other examples include local protest against transnational infrastructure projects, such as high speed train lines and electricity lines, which can be seen as part of a climate-friendly transport and energy policy but raise local skepticism. By analysing such local conflicts with transnational links, we examine the possibilities and limits of mediation and consensus that local and translocal social movements are confronted with. Our findings will be discussed with regard to strategies that can strengthen translocal solidarity.

Funding

The project “Movements of Europe. Transnational social movements and fault lines of solidarity” is based at Department for Sociology at the University of Jena. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (www.bmbf.de).

Project duration: January 2021 – December 2023

Photograph: Manuela Zechner (no. 1) and Gisela Mackenroth (no. 2 and 3)