Academic journal article Social Justice

Negotiating Treacherous Terrain: Disciplinary Power, Security Cultures, and Affective Ties in a Local Antiwar Movement

Academic journal article Social Justice

Negotiating Treacherous Terrain: Disciplinary Power, Security Cultures, and Affective Ties in a Local Antiwar Movement

Article excerpt

AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, THE CALLS OF U.S. GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS FOR greater security measures and retribution for the lives and resources lost during the attacks elicited a range of responses within the United States. Although many people were angry and fearful of additional attacks, others were frustrated with the retaliatory and often racist rhetoric calling for war and for greater domestic surveillance, and dismayed that the ongoing neoliberal reduction of public space had found a new justification. (1) Many from this latter constituency took to the streets in protest of the invasion of Afghanistan, the dwindling civil liberties at home, the proposed (and later realized) military offensive against Iraq, and the disaster capitalism accompanying these invasions. In the United States and worldwide, the demonstrations reached their peak immediately before and just after the United States invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003. Much of the energy of the U.S. antiwar movement dissipated after the 2004 presidential election, which reinstated the administration that led the country into an always contested and increasingly unpopular war.

This article considers the antiwar movement in Santa Barbara, California, initiated during the buildup to the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a case study for exploring the use and creation of public spaces by antiwar activists, the different visions of activism and social life within the movement, and the impact of relationships to institutional power on the interactions between individuals and dissenting groups. This analysis occurs at the edges of dominant studies of social movements, as it addresses public space and the geographical dimensions of social activism. (2) Emphasizing space has numerous merits, including the possibility to focus on the interactions among different groups of people during public demonstrations. Although we recognize that most, if not all, public demonstrations, including those discussed in this article, are part of broader social movements, we emphasize spatial and power dynamics rather than political opportunities, collective identities, or resource mobilization in order to address aspects of social movements that are often undertheorized in existing literature. (3)

In particular, we discuss the utilization, theorization, and politicization of space by diverse constituencies in Santa Barbara protests against the latest U.S.-Iraq war. Moving beyond the usual state-versus-dissenter binary, this article deconstructs the unitary categories of "citizen" and "dissenter," discussing the ways in which different groups make distinct claims and have diverse imaginaries concerning the use of space. At the same time that public protest has been incorporated into the liberal state and routinized through the permit process, it has also become less effective at accommodating more radical positions against the war and the economic and security crises brought on by corporate globalization (Mitchell and Staeheli, 2005). Additionally, the demographics and history of Santa Barbara, including the presence of a large research university, largely predetermined the level of cross-racial and cross-class political collaboration that took place. Therefore, we use Jesse Mumm's (2008) concept of "intimate segregation" to highlight the ways in which marginalized people (particularly people organizing via queer, racial and ethnic, gender, and feminist identities), through creative organizing strategies and reappropriation of public space, articulate and enact forms of dissident citizenship distinct from more mainstream, and often explicitly patriotic, forms of protest. Mumm emphasizes how people occupy space differently and come to understand their place. In his example of gentrification in a Chicago neighborhood, "white people begin to internalize [segregation] as they learn to police local spaces, social life, and neighborhood narratives in order to maximize their privilege" (Ibid. …

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