Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Poetics of Opposition in Contemporary Spain: Politics and the Work of Urban Culture

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Poetics of Opposition in Contemporary Spain: Politics and the Work of Urban Culture

Article excerpt

JONATHAN SNYDER, Poetics of Opposition in Contemporary Spain: Politics and the Work of Urban Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2015. 248 pp. ISBN 978 1 137 53679 2.

The essays that comprise this ambitious study of Spanish urbanity explore the transformative potential of collective protest and alternative cultural production in contemporary Spain. At the same time, the author's multiple lines of enquiry theorize visible and invisible strategies of resistance that oppose the Spanish government's response to the recent economic and fiscal crisis. Snyder envisages urban artistic production and popular demonstrations and assemblies as dynamic sites of protest that, through critical readings of official government policies and rhetoric, imagine alternatives to the status quo that reshape the urban landscape. While his work dialogues intensely with complex theory, Snyder's cultural analysis departs from an acute understanding of the concrete political, economic and social realities confronted by Spain from 2007 to early 2014.

Every chapter follows a clear organizational structure that unifies what may also be read as individual essays on complementary themes. The first chapter outlines the causes and consequences of the Spanish financial crisis and theorizes the affective responses of outraged citizens (los indignadxs) as a politicized response to coercive discourses of austerity. The acutely felt emotions shared by disparate individuals act as a catalyst for collective mobilizations such as the 15M demonstrations of 2011, the critical focus of Chapter two. The following chapter takes to task the mass propagation of the 'neoliberal myth' (125) within Spain by deciphering how neoliberalism perpetuates itself in the social imaginary. The final chapter examines the strategies implemented by the Partido Popular (PP) to mitigate the effects of the crisis following the 2012 general elections. By normalizing the adoption of 'exceptional' (163) laws and practices without the approval of the electorate, the PP's government conserves Spain's tradition of authoritarianism under the guise of representative democracy.

Snyder's nuanced interpretation of Spain's socio-political realities demonstrates his considerable command of a broad corpus of political and cultural theory. Nevertheless, his critical approach consistently foregrounds everyday practices and lived experiences; theory functions as a hermeneutic tool rather than as a totalizing discourse. …

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