Articoli taggati con ‘Local Movements’

Tafterjournal n. 105 - MARZO - APRILE 2019

Local Conflicts and the NO-TAP Protest

di Michele Longo

This paper is about the local conflict which emerged in Apulia, and more exactly in the province of Lecce, as a form of opposition to the major project known as TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline), aimed at transporting Azeri natural gas to Italy and Northern Europe. Reflecting on the question of TAP requires first of all a theoretical background against which we may set our empirical observation. In this paper, we will try and trace images and narratives so as to identify the history and features of a movement that, although young, may be intended as a litmus test useful to understand the new and sometimes invisible cleavages that affect today’s society. By choosing the TAP case as a model of a new kind of movement, not reducible to the characteristics of the “Nimby” phenomenon, we will try and study the somewhat invisible political and economic relations, which legitimize some processes of territorial control, as well as the practices by which the state or private bodies can implement it. Although the TAP protest is just a case-study, it is quite complex. This implies that, by narrating its history and describing its characteristics, one may better understand, on the micro level, the processes that convert collective heterogeneity into an active homogeneity, and, at the macro level, the national and international strategies (both political and economic) behind this major project. This may eventually contribute to a less generic definition of local conflicts (sometimes known as territorial conflict). In modern scientific literature on territorial movements, one interesting reference is Luigi Bobbio [1]. With Bobbio, it can be said that territorial conflicts have by now outnumbered both in qualitative and quantitative terms other types of social conflicts. Moreover, Bobbio considers as a characteristic of these kind of conflicts the fact that they are no longer the output of a two-dimensional clash between the dominant and the dominated class, but are the expression of the multiple segregations that contemporary society has produced. The plurality of exclusion has paradoxically produced a flattening of society in which fear and risk tend to drive the dynamics of social action. At a first and careless analysis, Bobbio would seem to promote a depoliticized vision of society, in which class conflicts disappear to be replaced by the new tendencies of late modernity. The political scientist underlines the main characteristic of these conflicts, namely: “The common feature of these protests is the fact that they are promoted and run by ad-hoc citizens’ committees, which propose themselves as non-partisan and authentic representatives of their community. Participants often receive the support of environmental associations or political groups, but try to claim and maintain their autonomy as an expression of the territory and of those who live there.”[2] The emphasis placed by Bobbio on the aspect of self-representativeness allows us to overcome the “idealtipical” image of territorial protest as a “shapeless mass”, in which individual interests converge without any aggregate logic, as if mere action was sufficient to structure solid social networks. The fact that the participants receive support from associations and groups of autonomous individuals underlines that a foundational element of the action of local movements is a strong awareness of collective interests. This awareness is relevant in the process by which a specific territorial group defines its objectives and structures its identity. The social networks which issue from local conflict are therefore expressions of the values through and against which the movement defines its own autonomy. Multiple networked social relations are essential to any territorial conflict and represent the product of a collective choice of distinction (or of taking a position) which legitimises a collectively shared habitus. The collectively shared habitus is the key to understand the social mechanisms of action and distinction (both external and internal) that allow a group to structure its collective heterogeneity as an active homogeneity. Moreover, the single movement is never isolated, as it is the autonomous component of a network of local movements, which makes territorial vindications the integral part of a much wider conflict.

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