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The Old World is behind you: the Situationists and beyond in contemporary anarchist currents

Goaman, K.E.; (2002) The Old World is behind you: the Situationists and beyond in contemporary anarchist currents. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access


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This thesis focuses on a sphere of contemporary anarchism in which the ideas of the Situationists have found influence. It foregrounds the oppositional impulse underpinning the lived worlds of these milieux, and the symbolic representations used in their aims, ideals and responses to the realities they confront. One of the key sources of primary evidence will therefore be independently published texts. Writing and publishing are important interventions in the activities which constitute the broader anarchist movement, forming an essential background to the post-Situationist interventions, mainly periodicals, which are the main focus of the thesis. The Situationists, a group of radicals active, in the 1950s and 1960s, who developed a critique of everyday life, of commodity culture and of hierarchy and power, form the central theme connecting the range of interventions explored. The discussion includes a consideration of May 68, in which the Situationists participated, and the wall writing of May 68, which reflects the Situationist influence and which expresses an alternative reality and reclaimed public space. The Situationists, and May 68, form the focus of two other themes. Firstly, the past as a repository of ideas, transmitting the means of an oppositional impulse over time. Secondly, the way in which a sense of community is constituted not just synchronically but diachronically. Another key argument is that the 'oppositional impulse' arises not only through rational, intellectual and cognitive thought, but also on an emotional level - as a response to and reaction against the system. Situationist texts are analysed for their power, through lyrical poetic writing, in evoking a critical response to everyday life. The thesis selects post-Situationist periodicals and interventions, 1980s-1990s, and explores their histories, those involved in their production, the use of the past as a repository of ideas, inspirations and influences, and the debates that emerge through such interventions. The thesis aims to evoke and convey, with richness and texture, the ideas and critical perspectives of the milieux and interventions explored. It aims, through an explication of Situationist and post-Situationist anarchistic ideas, combined with ethnographic descriptions derived through 'observant participation', to capture something of the ethos of the lived worlds of the spheres discussed It is argued that these elements tend to be overlooked in 'new social movement' (NSM) accounts of oppositional currents. A range of anthropological literature is also evaluated to clarify the perspectives informing this thesis, which aims for an egalitarian research method.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Old World is behind you: the Situationists and beyond in contemporary anarchist currents
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by British Library EThOS
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1317865
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