Five years after Spain’s 15-M: Narratives of the Economic and Political Crisis


The fifteenth monograph of 452ºF will be published in July 2016, five years after the eruption in Spain of the so-called 15-M (after the initial date, May 15th, of the massive demonstrations in different Spanish cities) or Indignants (Indignados) movement, and more than eight years after the beginning of the financial crisis that shocked the countries of Southern Europe with special virulence. It thus seems a pertinent occasion to enquire, from the theoretical and comparativist standpoints that define the journal, into the political, social and cultural changes produced since that date, the different processes that began then and the narratives that explain or justify them. With this, the journal adds to similar collective initiatives, such as the monographs published in the Hispanic Review (Num. 80, 2012), coordinated by Moreno-Caballud, or the one in the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies (15, 2014), coordinated by Bryan Cameron, or the incipient research project on "Cultural Narratives of Crisis and Renewal" (whose president of the Directive Committee is Pablo Valdivia and whose coordinators are Patricia Oliart and Jorge Català). The objective is to contribute as much as possible to the mapping and conceptualization of a contemporary, multifaceted reality which nonetheless displays enough distinctive material and common ideological characteristics to warrant undivided critical attention.

 

Starting with the demonstrations and protestors’ camping out in the main squares of Spain in 2011, the new political parties at the local and country level, and the reemergence of social movements and the apparition of “waves” of all colors and nuances, we can begin to identify a process of re-politicization of the public space, as well as of the collective imaginaries that inhabit it, aimed at confronting the post-political (Rancière, Mouffe, Žižek) tendencies that have dominated the last decades. The situation, which responded to the economic and democratic crises with a new kind of political conflict, has marked the agenda of the cultural field during the last five years, forcing us to rethink, diversify and reveal particular positionalities. That is why we would like to pose a series of questions about the role of artistic, literary and philosophical creation in this new situation of ideological tension. Which concepts and myths articulate this tension and are channeled through it? What has happened to the figures of the “intellectual” or the “journalist”?

 

The complexity of the current situation allows, then, for a multiplicity of critical approaches and objects of study, which this monographs aims to put in dialogue. Firstly, it can be highly relevant to reflect on the current proliferation of works, in different genres and formats, whether by newer or more consolidated authors, that take as their theme the crisis, its causes and its devastation. To what extent can we refer to a new social or political literature? What  characteristics would it display? Not to mention the myriad of examples in other artistic terrains such as film, comic books, visual and performance arts, etc.

 

Secondly, it also seems necessary to attempt to detect the critical and cultural topoi that emerged after and as a result of 15-M and other similar movements: the rejection of what Guillem Martínez and Amador Fernández-Savater, among others, name as “the culture of the Transition,” Henri Lefebvre’s “right to the city,” the practices of appropriation of the urban space, the empowering mechanisms and collective agency by means of “networks of outrage and hope” (Manuel Castells), the struggle to resignify certain “floating signifiers” (Ernesto Laclau) of politics, or to destabilize the established “distribution of the sensible”(Jacques Rancière), the activation and mobilization of affects such as pain or outrage, the necessity of artvisim and new cultural practices that defy the commodification of institutional art, the vindication of a Free Culture and the Commons as alternatives to neoliberal patterns of cultural production and consumption, etc.

 

To sum up, we would like to address what type of narratives, imaginaries and subject positions are constructed by means of these and other aspects in the contemporary context of economic and political crisis. In addition, we intend to weigh the potentialities and limitations of these trends, while bearing in mind that the Spanish situation belongs to a global context and defending, therefore, a transnational approach to this situation that will shed light on its particularities as well as its commonalities with movements in different regions, from Southern Europe and Latin America, to North America and Arab countries, etc. Thus, this monograph will also welcome articles that examine, from a critical theoretical or comparativist standpoint, other similar realities in order to detect ideological and cultural transformation in the current context of crisis.

 

Some of the topics of interest, among others, are:

 

 

a)    Film, comic books, literature and art in the economical and political crisis.

b)    Crisis and new social literature: the role of the artist and the intellectual.

c)    The Culture of Spain’s Transition and the problematization of historiographic discourse: memory and post-memory.

d)    Urban (re)appropriations and the “right to the city”.

e)    New cultural models serving the collective: Free Culture and the Commons.

f)     The affects’ power to mobilize: pain, outrage, violence.

g)    Generational conflict in criticism and thinking after the 15M movement.

h)   Imaginaries, languages, senses and grammars of citizen the re-politicization of the citizenry.

i)     Artivism, oral culture and popular culture.

j)      Spaces and practices of participation, intervention and emancipation.

k)    Comparative cultures in contexts of crisis: the United States, Latin America, Southern Europe and the Arab Springs.

 

 

Albert Jornet Somoza



 



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