Sian Lazar (Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge)
Anne Alexander (CRASSH)
The wave of protest against neoliberalism which swept through Latin America in the early years of the 21st Century, the Arab Revolutions of 2011, the anti-austerity and Occupy movements in Europe and North America are connected by a common thread: the demand for economic justice. This international conference will provide the first opportunity for scholars, journalists and activists from Argentina, the UK, the US, Greece, Spain, Egypt, Tunisia and beyond to compare the challenges faced by the Latin American movements with the experience of mobilizations for similar demands in the Arab world and Europe since 2011. We will focus especially on the interactions between organised workers and the unemployed, youth and students who have played a key role in many of the street mobilizations of the past two years as they build alliances, make demands of the state, and attempt to define political and social alternatives to neo-liberalism and austerity.
Workers’ strikes and protests played a critical role in propelling the mass movements in Latin America into state power, destabilised dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, and continue to challenge austerity governments across Europe. Yet the role of workers as a collective social actor is significantly underestimated in narratives of the Latin American ‘Turn to the Left’ and the ‘Arab Spring’ alike. In an age which commentators have branded an era of social media revolutions, this conference will also provide a space for critical perspectives on the relationship between digital communication and organisational praxis.