Luke McGinty

Project Title: Anarchism’s Lost Future(s): Optimism, Space and Practice Among the Anarchists of Madrid

The countries of Europe (and beyond) are undergoing a period of radical upheaval. The continued fallout of the 2008 financial crash, the rise of both rightist and leftist populism, the unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ever-present spectre of climate change have heralded a socio-political moment in which the role, the visibility, indeed the very idea of the state has been transformed; governmentality has seeped ever further into individual and social lives. In Spain, this period of tumult has deepened already-existing ruptures in the fabric of culture and society, through which new and alternative policies, politics and practices have emerged. With a focus on Madrid, this research will investigate how Spain’s anarchist communities seek to challenge the expansion of the state by creating spaces, both physical and rhetorical, in which modes of existing which are alternative – and oppositional – to capitalism are practiced.

Anarchism – a political philosophy which advocates voluntary organisation, mutual aid and the rights of the individual, while rejecting codified forms of power – has a rich and storied history in Spain. This study will blend archival and historical research with ethnographic work among contemporary anarchist groups in Madrid in order to deepen academic understandings of Spain’s anarchist history, as well as exploring how the legacy of that history continues to shape the politics, culture and sociality of the country today. In doing so, this research hopes to elucidate alternative social practices in the present and to anticipate what those practices might offer in the future.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Social Anthropology

University: University of St Andrews

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