Patterns of contentious politics concentration as a ‘spatial contract’
Patterns of contentious politics concentration as a ‘spatial contract’; a spatio-temporal study of urban riots and violent protest in the neighbourhood of Exarcheia, Athens, Greece (1974-2011)
Department of Geography, London School of Economics, December 2012. Successfully defended viva, March 2013.
Tom Slater, Lila Leontidou
Existing studies of urban riots, violent protest and other instances of contentious politics in urban settings have largely tended to be either event- or time-specific in their scope. The present thesis offers a spatial reading of such politics of contention in the city of Athens,Greece. Tracing the pattern of the occurrence of these instances through time, the research scope of the thesis spans across Greece’s post-dictatorial era (i.e. post-1974, the Greek Metapolitefsi), concluding shortly after the first loan agreement between the country’s national government and the so-called ‘troika’ of lenders (IMF/ECB/EU). The thesis includes a critical overview of literature on riots in a historical and geographical context; questions on methodology and ethics in researching urban riots; a discourse analysis of violence concentration in Exarcheia; ethnographic accounts on everyday life in the neighbourhood and a ‘rhythmanalysis’ of the Exarcheia contention concentration during the period of research.Seeking to explain this concentration the thesis introduces the notion of the ‘spatial contract’:rather than signalling a type of discord, the concentration of mass violence in Exarcheia through time is hereby conceived as the spatial articulation of a certain form of consensus between Greek authorities and their subjects. In this way, the thesis places the concentration of urban violence in Exarcheia solidly within the social and political context of the country’s post-dictatorial era.The thesis suggests that it would be beneficial for future human geographical research to trace such concentration patterns of urban riots. By exercising a cross-scale reading, it would then possible to place these and other forms of contentious politics within a social equilibrium that is far more complex and often much more consensual than it might appear to be.