Researching on Corporeality and Resistance

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Activating Corporeality for Political Resistance

Together with my colleagues Ming Poon and Leonie Naomi Baur, we have founded a collective to investigate the intersection of critical dance practice and activism. Urgent Bodies is a group of dancers and movers who strive to apply dance skills and choreographic knowledge to support political actions and activist movements. We feel a strong need to engage with and respond to the socio-ecological urgency we live in today. Therefore, we bring dancers/movers and activists together to facilitate exchange and mutual learning. Inspired by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, we understand hope not as something we feel, rather as something we do. Our overarching aim is to develop dance as a toolkit for the practice of political hope and resistance. In autumn 2020 we will start a series of Research Laboratories! Stay tuned!

Embodying Climate Justice

At times, our bodies are the only remaining media to bring about political change. I am currently researching the Resisting Choreographies of Ende Gelände climate justice movement. While social movements and their role in the global climate governance have been in the attention of scholarly interest, the corporeal techniques and relations structuring the practice of resistance are worthwhile a more in-depth study. I will present my work in the EnJust 2021 (Freiburg, Germany) and ECOFE2020 (Tampere, Finland) Conferences in autumn 2020 and spring 2021. Keep tuned! 
Photo: Merwin Goldschmidt

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The fascination of human bodies organising together to change the course of politics have lead me to the research I am conducting at the moment. In my MA thesis on Political Science, I am investigating the corporeal resistance strategies of a German grass-root climate justice movement called Ende Gelände. Ende Gelände (eng~ That’s enough!) is a special movement as it started the organisation of mass-actions of civil disobedience for climate justice as one of the very first groups in Europe. Now Ende Gelände has grown to be one of the most important climate movements in Europe that is harnessing the power of disobedient and vulnerable bodies to make visible the planetary emergency we are living in. The activists of Ende Gelände put their very bodies in the sites of the biggest coal-mines and other fossil-fuel infrastructure of Europe to highlight the actual places where climate destruction is being caused. 

In my study, I read these protests and actions as choreography of resistance and approach them with ethnographic curiosity and immersive participation. As I am also myself a climate activists and participant in the protests, I am continuously navigating between the identity of a researcher and that of an activist. However, I believe that researching something of which I also have multilayered personal experience can evoke insights that would maybe not be possible otherwise. Also here choreographic thinking is guiding my inquiry. I am studying how the choreography of resistance of Ende Gelände emerges, what kind of corporeal relations it retains and creates, and lastly, what does this resisting choreography do in the wider context of international climate politics. Sometimes bodies indeed are louder than words, and I want to find out why and how! I am very grateful of all the people and fellow activists I have encountered during this journey. All the people who shared their experiences and stories and with whom I have flown through the police lines, sang in a blockade and cooked food in the climate camp. They have made me learn so much and made me to understand that resistance is so much more than just the visible actions of protest. There would be no resistance without complex networks of care, non-violent communication, recognition and group processes that go often unnoticed. The courageous scholars Eeva Puumala, Elina Penttinen, Tiina Vaittinen, Susanna Hast, Susan L. Foster and Jaana Parviainen are my great inspirations when immersing to the world of entangled research and participation. The Finnish journal on politics Politiikasta has published a text from my research process if you are curious to learn more! The whole publication can be found here! Photo: Jannis Grosse

Placing the bodies: Alex
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Placing the bodies: Xavier
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Placing the bodies: Wilma
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