076 Europe in Crisis: Urban Performances of Capitalism and Resistance

Tuesday, June 25, 2013: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM
C0.17 (Oudemanhuispoort)
Europe in Crisis: urban performances of capitalism and resistance

'The purpose of the state, freedom' (Spinoza)

On the wake of the Greek debt crisis in 2010 Etienne Balibar asserted that ‘unless it finds its capacity to start again on radically new bases, Europe is a dead political project’ (Theory and Event 13.2, 2010). Balibar’s critique of the European Union mode of governance provides us with a starting point for this panel, which reads the current moment of crises as an opportunity to challenge dominant definitions of European, national and civic identities, by examining their multiple, fluid and occasionally contradictory performances in the urban, socio-political, cultural and theatrical settings. While distancing our readings and methodologies from any fetishisation of or lament for Europe, we wish to question how performance – both theatrical and quotidian - reproduces, reflects or challenges and resists such narratives; can an analysis of performance at this time of crisis indicate a move away from symbolic definitions of Europe, replacing them with a focus on present relations of tension and articulations of crises as they spread in the Continent?

The papers in the proposed panel focus on examples from two European urban and national contexts that have a particular, (uneasy) relation to Europe, both in past Eurocentric narratives and contemporary debates of rupture and failure: Greece/Athens as the mythical source of the European ideal but currently a possible ‘contaminator’ for the Eurozone; and the UK/London, the former Empire and historically the Eurosceptic EU member-state. The panel's presenters approach the chosen examples/aspects of the crisis through interdisciplinary perspectives, while interrogating their personal interaction with the two cities either as places of origin or as places of residence. In these readings of alternative dramaturgies of the political and collision of the national and the European, London/UK and Athens/Greece are not isolated examples of an idiosyncratic relation to Europeanness, but can be read as paradigmatic cases of Europe in a state of emergence/emergency.

We focus on recent strategies of resistance to hegemonic notions of Europe and the ways that they might contribute to new understandings of Europe and European citizenship. Such performances, ruptures in the European Union edifice, mark a return to antagonistic politics and challenge the dominant structures of the European project, a 'divine Europe,' in the words of Jean Baudrillard, in which '[e]verything is decided in advance, and consensus is all that is being solicited' in its (simulated) political processes (Liberation, 17 May 2005). The examples from the UK and Greece explored in the proposed papers demonstrate a shift of the focus in the public arena back to class struggle, protest and the contentious topic of (uneven) urban development. In doing so, we seek to question performances of the visible and the invisible subject, inclusion and exclusion, political agency and democratic citizenship that have emerged more urgently than before – challenged and renegotiated on both ends of the hierarchical structures of power and (re)inscribed in public urban spaces

Eleftheria Ioannidou
Philip Hager
Right thinking at the National Theatre
Louise Owen, Birkbeck, University of London
‘It's a Beautiful Thing, the Destruction of Wor(l)Ds'
Myrto Tsilimpounidi, The Ministry of Untold Stories; Aylwyn Walsh, University of Lincoln
Mind the Ruins: Crises and Performance in European Cities
Marilena Zaroulia, University of Winchester; Joel Anderson, Central School of Speech and Drama
See more of: Session Proposals