Public squares and resistance: the politics of space in the Indignados movement

Puneet Dhaliwal
There has recently been growing resistance in response to the current crisis of neo-liberal capitalism, from the Arab uprisings to European mobilizations against austerity measures and the global spread of 'Occupy' movements. Many of these movements make use of the occupation of public space. This paper analyses the strategic value of this practice with reference to the Indignados movement in Spain. First, I offer an outline of the Indignados movement and its 'politics of space' in terms of the
more » ... occupation of public squares. Second, I explore the potential of this politics of space in three steps: (a) I draw on Henri Lefebvre's theory of the production of space to suggest how occupations may enable the emergence of new social spaces; (b) I emphasize the importance of transforming space as a means of transforming social relations; (c) I then elaborate the way in which the transformation of social relations in such spaces may contribute to the broader contestation of the existing hegemonic social order. Drawing these considerations together, I conclude that the occupation of public space is strategically valuable when it can undergird a sustained transformation of social relations, particularly when this is directed outwards towards transforming other social spaces.