Exploring practices of collective care in the resistance of violence and opression
If you sink into despair, remember this crowd, read the glittery purple banner, one that eloquently captured the emotion driving feminists to challenge the extensive police blockade on the 8th of March 2020, in Istanbul. Forming that crowd in unity boosted hope and power against the fear inflicted by repressive violence – that felt good being in the crowd, and remembering it thereafter.
Violence does not always manifest itself explicitly with physical harm and injury. It also produces new forms of vulnerability, impoverishment, inequality and disposability (Bargu, 2019). It does so, by infringing on people’s everyday experiences, interactions, emotions, and capacities to survive or resist. Oppression invariably works to “corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change” (Lorde, 2007). Still, people find ways to cope, repair, resist and reshape.
A growing body of literature unfolds the practice and politics of care in people’s ways to sustain and repair their life worlds in the face of systemic neglect and violence. Some address at certain practices of “collective” or “radical” care in the experience of black, queer, or indigenous communities, or in feminist, anti-austerity and occupy movements (Butler, 2014; Care Collective, 2020; Hobart & Kneese, 2020; Jasmine et al., 2016; Jupp, 2022; Murphy, 2015; Tironi & Rodríguez-Giralt, 2017; van Meter, 2012; Zechner, 2021). Building on this scholarly body, this project aims to expand the theory on care by drawing empirical evidence from the experiences of activists maintaining resistance in repressive contexts. Thus, the thesis project will explore the collective care practices that aid in the regeneration and sustainability of resistance amidst violence and oppression. How do activists heal from, and cope with violence in their collective practices, relations, and spaces of political contention and struggle? Which practices, mechanisms, methods or micropolitics serve them to regenerate and sustain resistance?
The research is designed as a co-creative ethnography with de-colonial, feminist, and caring research ethics, to foster dialogue and self-examination in knowledge production through a creative and collaborative procedure in data collection, interpretation and narration. Learning from the “knowledge-practices” (Casas-Cortés et al., 2008) of movement activists, it is expected to draw out “usable knowledge” for social movement strategy (Bevington and Dixon, 2005) attending further needs to maintain resistance in repressive contexts.