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August 4, 2013
August 4, 2013

Mataroa 2013: Against the Crisis, for the Commons, towards a New Mediterranean

Source: Enthemata  Category: On the crisis
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Mataroa 2013: Against the Crisis, for the Commons, towards a New Mediterranean

*on behalf of the Organisational Committee of Mataroa 2013

A phantom is haunting the Mediterranean: the phantom of yet another Latin America, in which today, after decades of subjugation to the neo-liberal “Chicago guys”, new liberating knowledge and achievements arise daily and become integrated parts of a new imaginary for organising collective life on the basis of solidarity and self-organisation.

In the Mediterranean region the imaginary is peeking through the convulsive uprisings against military or parliamentary dictatorships and is being fed with more and more ingrained structures of self-organisation and intense politicisation processes, along almost all of its shores. These phenomena require not only empirical recording and analysis, but also a scientific approach that will acknowledge them as the new fields of production of knowledge, action and hope.

With this orientation this year’s summer workshop Mataroa 2013 sailed to Ikaria (14th -18th of July), with the participation of 25 researchers, men and women, of social sciences and political ecology from universities of the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and North America. It was supported, academically, by the School of Architecture of NTUA and the Department of Social Anthropology of Panteion and, institutionally, by local associations, the Documentation, Research and Action Centre of Ikaria and the municipality of Ikaria.

The symbolic re-registration of the historic ship for the needs of a scientific meeting was not meant to imply similarities with conditions and people of that time, but rather to give meaning to today’s thoughts with the help of words-compasses, which might be useful for the unchartered territories lying ahead.

Crisis. Mataroa 2013 wished to sail against the tide by asking whether the hegemonic discourse on ‘Crisis’ hinders rather than promotes our understanding of contemporary social phenomena.

Rather than accept “crisis” as an objective reality, we prefer to see it as an autonomised domain of knowledge that empowers what Timothy Mitchell has called “rule of experts” over populations, but also as a powerful prism with the help of which the Mediterranean is shown as the inherent opposite of the protestant and developed European North.

Commons. Mataroa 2013 travelled to Tahrir and Taksim squares, to Tunisia and to Barcelona, to Naples and to the island of Ikaria, asking whether polymorphic struggles against neoliberal policies and authoritarian governments can be translated into the language of the “commons” (physical, political, cultural).

The “commons” have turned out to be good compasses not only as an analytical concept facilitating the dialogue between disciplines which usually do not “speak to each other”, but also as a political project that can coordinate seemingly incoherent and incompatible struggles, both in the city and in the province and both in the South and the North of the Mediterranean Sea and beyond.

Mediterranean. Mataroa 2013 set sail towards a new Mediterranean, because this is emerging as a promising geopolitical space allowing us to reconsider our basic tools, theories and methodologies, but also to analyse how the rule of experts functions today.

If the region has indeed evolved into a laboratory for major fields of modern governmentality (economy, biosecurity, border control, peacekeeping and monitoring of intra-state violence, “humanitarian intervention” and creation of new para-statal structures), it is an imperative need to set up and strengthen lines of communication and exchange among researchers who not only trace the new forms of governmenatlity and of resistance against them in scientific ways, but also act as “organic intellectuals” on both sides of the sea. The Mediterranean imaginary is the visionary horizon of Mataroa, a composition inspired by the Mediterranean theorist, F. Braudel, and the author of the Imaginary Institution of Society and passenger of the real Mataroa, C. Castoriadis.

Ikaria. Port of Registry of Mataroa 2013, an island-symbol in which sophisticated practices in community management of the “commons” have a very long tradition. The objective is to highlight their historical and anthropological importance, often lost as much due to the construction of Ikaria as the archetypal Other (and thus marginalised by the state) as due to its usurping by the Left –mainly, if not exclusively– as the exile of the Communists.

Today, Ikaria is a battleground between supporters of “development” in various colours (e.g green and other) and local collectivities defending the commons, but also a universal-range source of inspiration for an –often romanticised– “exit” from the crisis and misery in western metropolises (“The Island where People Forget to Die”, The New York Times, 24/10/2012).

Mataroa 2013 sought to map a possible route from the Phantom of the crisis to the Mediterranean Imaginary, fuelled by the project of the “commons”. The route includes permanent structures (a website with material in the languages ​​of the region, local research teams, special working groups, cyclical plenary meetings, etc.), a joint declaration-dictionary, as well as a communication platform for the development of coordinated public interventions by researchers in collaboration with local initiatives and movements.

website

Bibliography

Καστοριάδης Κορνήλιος (1975) Η φαντασιακή θέσμιση της κοινωνίας. Κέδρος

Lawler Kristin (2012). “The Politics of Austerity and the Ikarian Dream”. Slackerpoliticshttp://slackerpolitics.com/2012/11/16/pleasure-politics-and-ikarian-dreams

Mitchell Timothy (2002). Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.

Μπρωντέλ, Φερνάν. Η Μεσόγειος: Ο Χώρος και η Ιστορία. Αλεξάνδρεια, μτφ. Έφη Αβδελά, Ρίκα Μπενβενίστε

«The Island Where People Forget to Die». The New York Times, October 24. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html

Καστοριάδης Κορνήλιος (1975) Η φαντασιακή θέσμιση της κοινωνίας. Κέδρος

Lawler Kristin (2012). “The Politics of Austerity and the Ikarian Dream”. Slackerpoliticshttp://slackerpolitics.com/2012/11/16/pleasure-politics-and-ikarian-dreams

Mitchell Timothy (2002). Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.

Μπρωντέλ, Φερνάν. Η Μεσόγειος: Ο Χώρος και η Ιστορία. Αλεξάνδρεια, μτφ. Έφη Αβδελά, Ρίκα Μπενβενίστε

«The Island Where People Forget to Die». The New York Times, October 24. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html

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