Panel I: The State(s) and its Others – Institutions and the Politics of Representation
Alexia Schemien: Of Librotraficantes and MAS Races: Alliance Building in the Aftermath of Arizona’s Book Ban
In 2010, Arizona state politicians banned Mexican American and Native American books from high schools and shut down Mexican American Studies programs. Among the books that were banned were: Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuña, Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado, House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros etc.. Soon after the court ruling was made, grass-roots organizations and activist groups on the communal level were established to repeal or invalidate this decision. One of the most prominent of these organizations is the “librotraficante” book caravan that brought thousands of books back to the students (cf. Biggers). This talk presents various forms of alliances that have successfully been formed until today (some positive developments can already be noticed such as the reintegration of certain books, additional court decisions are expected in July 2015). These alliances include so-called “Races to MAS," which is not only a play on words with the Spanish word “más” (“more”) but also refers to the competition of various states and cities to (re)integrate Mexican American Studies (MAS) programs in high schools. This presentation therefore reconsiders the implications this book ban had on community as well as alliance building in Arizona and other Southern states. As Tony Diaz, founder of “Librotraficante,” stated in February 2015: “Arizona's ban of Mexican American Studies epitomized the decay of […] Intellectual Freedom in America. Our Arizona familia's defiance of the ban inspired Tejas and Califas to fight for our history and cultura. Together, we have launched the Chican@ Renaissance that will deliver Ethnic Studies for everyone, so that everyone's story can be told” (“Race to MAS”).
Jiann-Chyng Tu: An Alliance with the “other America”: East German Solidarity with the African American Civil Rights Struggle
While on tour through Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union after her acquittal in 1972, Angela Davis’s stay in the German Democratic Republic was marked by pomp and circumstance, with mass rallies attended by thousands of people, meetings with government officials, as well as tours through East German universities and industrial centers (Höhn and Klimke 136). Günther Jahn, the first secretary of the Central Council of the FDJ (Zentralrat der Freien Deutschen Judend), welcomed the iconic heroine of the “other America” with great honor and showed solidarity through aligning Davis with the great cultural, literary, and politics thinkers of the (East) German narrative:
In the country of Kant and Hegel, whose philosophy Angela Davis has studied, in the country of Schiller and Goethe, whose works Angela Davis has read in the original language, in the liberated homeland of Marx and Engels, millions of hearts are beating for her and her American comrades. (Peace and Friendship Solidarity: Angela Davis in the GDR, Dresden, 1973)
Such a display of solidarity with the cause of African American civil rights was, as I will argue in this paper, impart part of the East German government’s official antiracist and anticolonial component of the state’s socialist ideology and impart a fundamental ideological tool for East Germany in the propaganda battles of the Cold War. An expression of international solidarity with the key African American activists not only discredits and critiques the West Germany’s alignment with the hypocrisies of western capitalism, but also provided a connecting point to the efforts of the Communist Party USA.
Through contextualizing East German solidarity with key African American civil rights activists—such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Angela Davis, Martin Luther King, and Paul Robeson—I will try to map out how East Germany’s campaign for the freedom of African Americans became an integral part of the “global dimensions of the African American journey for equality and freedom”.
Panel Chair: Jasper Verlinden (FU Berlin)
Panel II: The Limits of Subversion – Cooperation and Cooptation in the Neoliberal Age
Blair Taylor: Social Movements and the New Spirit of Capitalism: The Strange Bedfellows of Neoanarchism and Neoliberalism.
Accounts of the antiglobalization movement often identify repression of dissent post-9/11 and the shift to an antiwar frame as the main causes of demobilization. But what if the alterglobalization movement faded not because it failed, but rather because it succeeded? Movements of the 1990s popularized a moral critique of corporations; thus they changed corporations, not the world. Today business speaks the language of movements: various forms of ethical consumption are now mainstream political discourse and consumer habitus, from organic food to alternative energy. At the level of production, movement critiques have translated into decentralized workplaces, flexibility, informality, and shifts towards a post-material/affective economy.
Yet these transformations occurred while the social movements that once proposed such solutions – until recently – have been in decline. Building on the works of Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello (2000) and Nancy Fraser (2009), my paper examines how the recuperation of social movement themes is constructing a “New Spirit of Capitalism.” This paper interrogates the latent affinities between neoanarchism and neoliberalism, arguing that the mircopolitical and “prefigurative” orientation of neoanarchism dominant within the alterglobalization movement and living on in Occupy Wall Street has facilitated the explosive growth in the discourse of “ethical capitalism,” a process which also insulates it from critique. The authoritarian legacy of 20th century Marxism has given rise to a politics that seeks to “change the world without taking power,” a process which has redefined the historical left and poses serious theoretical and practical problems for social movements today.
Blair Taylor is presently a Research Fellow at the Einstein “Rethinking Crisis” Working Group at the JFK Institute, Freie University, Berlin. His research looks at the co-constitution of social movements and capitalism, focusing on the evolution of the American left from the 1990s to the present. He is completing a doctoral dissertation titled “Transformations of the American Left:
Anarchism, Antiglobalization, and the New Spirit of Capitalism” at the New School for Social Research under the supervision of Nancy Fraser.
Dr. Funda Çoban: Electronic Faces of Counter-Public Spaces.
As the critique of Habermas’s public sphere, counter-public sphere has been discussed for many years. It is, with its relation to “horizon of social experience” analyzed by Negt and Kluge, still an important analytical tool to understand the Other, namely the sub-altern classes, non-citizens and/or the silenced multitude.
However, we aren’t in 1970s. The relations of production, reception and distribution has changed in the face of neo-liberalism. So, the modes of domination on Time and Space… Diachronism has being replaced by isochronism.The defined centers have being superseded by multi- localization or even by de-territorialization. One of the most important super-structural tool of this process is Internet. Because internet spatially and temporally composes people in a very short time.
So, can we assess Internet as a new counter-public space? What kind of criteria can we use to do so? What is the importance of Internet in current social movements? Is Internet the non-centered Center of Multitude? What does Internet mean for the organizational potentials of the current mass movements such as so called “Arap Spring”, Gezi Park protests, Brazilian uprising, Zicotti Park Resistance so on… “Will revolution be retweeted” or not?
In parallel with this kind of questions, I want to propose we need a new definition for public space and counter-public space containing the spatial-temporal transformation of those. Thus, I want to discuss if Internet counter-public space can be an effective tool to “change the world without taking Power?”
Cord-Heinrich Plinke: Equality – But for Whom?
By putting a looking glass to the Stonewall Riots, I examine the history of the gay rights movement; Having done extensive research on the violence that led to trans-women of color’s protests which would later result in what is today known as the Stonewall Riots, I question the development and politics that have grown out of said movement. Taking into account both the ongoing campaigns for marriage equality in the United States and the increasing social divide due to late-capitalist societal orderings, I will illuminate that merely a margin of the LGBTQ segment, mostly affluent gay white cis-men, have came to be the recipients of other people’s activism, despite the movement’s self-presentation and -marketing on social media and in other gatherings. Additionally, I will shed light on the ways that said activism has become hijacked by forces of capitalism, who appropriate and exploit it for purposes of marketing. While goods, services, and brands are being sold under the promise of being morally upright and changing the world for the better, a large part of what once was an LGBTQ movement has ended up being excluded from access to this world, and real-world alliances that cross racial and/or socioeconomic borders appear almost impossible to trace. My talk will thus most likely culminate in a rather pessimistic outlook on alliances. Pondering on long-term outcomes of social movements such Stonewall, I remain critical whether any of these will have lasting effect, or whether they are always under threat of being consumed by the overwhelming systemic inequalities already present in society.
Panel Chair: Mathias Großklaus (FU Berlin)
Panel III and IV – Mobilizing Across Borders: Transnational Alliances
Denijal Jegić: #FromFergusonToGaza – The (Re)Emergence of Afro-Arab Solidarity through Social Media.
In 1982, June Jordan wrote "I was born a black woman and now, I am become a Palestinian," implying commonalities in the experience of structural subjugation of African-Americans and Palestinians. Due to their struggle with Western colonialism, imperialism and ethnocentrism, both groups fill negatively racialized (post-)colonial spaces. Palestinians and African-Americans find themselves ostracized from the mainstream public sphere, remaining inadequately visible subalterns. While historically, the African-American civil rights movement had been significantly linked to the suffering of communities in the Arab world, current events in the Middle East and North America show a re-emergence of the formerly dynamic connection between African(- American) and Palestinian(-American) oppression. The 2014 events in Gaza and Ferguson that saw the targeting of minority groups brought to the forefront a shared structure of suffering and expression of solidarity between both groups. These latest incidents gained global attention primarily through hashtags which helped revert the victims' facelessness in the media. Whereas political elites and mass media fail to relate to these groups' narratives, social media is increasingly becoming the medium of their alienated voice. Not only do Facebook and Twitter allow marginalized groups to present their plight to a transnational audience and to contradict hegemonic news narratives, the use of social media inspires dialogue and inter-affiliation.
I would like to discuss how social media creates uncommon alliances in the realm of civil society by transcending national and ethnic categories, and to which extent it helps change narratives. My analysis shall outline how social media - as an inherently transnational form of communication and an expression of post-colonial aesthetics - dissociates subalternity from geographic locality and encourages identification as a subaltern on a transnational level.
Maurits Mejers:Transnational Far Right Alliances: The Case of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party
This paper explores the international and transnational activities as well as the representation of the Dutch far right anti-Islamic and Eurosceptic political party the Partij voor de Vrijheid (‘Freedom Party’) of Geert Wilders. Whereas the success for such far right political parties in Europe has received a lot of scholarly attention, research on the inter- and transnational activity and representation of these parties has been remarkably meagre. Having established an extensive transnational network of political allies throughout Europe and in Israel and North America, Wilders and his Freedom Party form an illuminating case study that shows how transnationalisation processes can be inherent components of far right parties, which hold fundamentally exclusionary political views.
The political proliferation of Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party in and beyond Europe shows, firstly, how international and transnational representation and cooperation of far right nationalist parties is not an oxymoron, and, secondly, how an extra-national political strategy can elucidate a significant part of the political identity of a far right party.
Imke Brust: Alliances Beyond Borders – Transnational Activists
This paper is inspired by Sidney Tarrow’s groundbreaking book The New Transnational Activism (2006) and explores the phenomenon of transnational activists in order to determine what causes people to form alliances across borders. I will briefly outline what defines a transnational activist and address around what issues people have formed alliances across national borders since the end of the Cold War. According to Tarrow transnational activism is so far still largely a European, and North American (U.S. and Canada) phenomenon, primarily, because Europeans and North Americans have better access to financial, organizational resources and major international institutions (44).
My paper will engage critically with this statement by taking a closer look at the 2011 Occupy Movement as a transnational phenomenon. I would like to explore what role the Arab Spring played in inspiring it, what tools – in particular new media – activists employed to form alliances, and offer reasons for its failure. Furthermore, I will also take a closer look at the different slogans that were employed during the protest movement and their transnational transferability. Finally, I will conclude my paper by presenting images from the Occupy Wall Street Flickr Archive as a way of showing how people documented this transnational protest movement creatively online.
David Jünger: Legacies of an (Un)common Past: German-Jewish Refugees and the Civil Rights Movement in Postwar America
When the Civil Rights Movement of the United States gained momentum in the 1950s and 1960s the Black people of America had to fight mostly by themselves. Hardly any other social or ethnic group would support their struggle for civil and human rights. There was only one group that almost unanimously supported the Civil Rights Movement from its beginning: American Jewry. Much has been written about the so called Black-Jewish Alliance in the Civil Rights Movement, about the Jewish support for this movement on different levels. Much less is known, however, about those Jews, who had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s and now, about 20 years later, played a crucial role in the Jewish support of the Civil Rights Movement.
In my presentation I will mainly focus on the German-Jewish refugee Joachim Prinz, a Zionist rabbi who left Berlin in 1937 and became an important figure of American Jewry from the 1950s through the 1970s. He was not only a companion of Martin Luther King, Jr. but also a key speaker at the March on Washington in August 1963. Both men, Prinz and King, reiterated at different occasions that the common experience of oppression, persecution and slavery constitutes the Black-Jewish alliance and justifies the common struggle for civil rights in contemporary America.
It is the purpose of my presentation to highlight the historical experience with Nazi oppression as a key instrument for the understanding of Joachim Prinz’ later activism in the Civil Rights Movement. It is my broader argument that the Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in general cannot be understood without an understanding of early Holocaust memory in the United States and without looking at those Jews, who had fled Nazi occupied Europe and became leading activist of post-war American Jewry.
Panel Chair: Professor Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman, Ph.D. (Brandeis University / FU Berlin)
Panel V: Stories of Change – Narrating Movements, Moving Narratives
Talel Ben Jemia (FU Berlin): It Gets Better (?!) – Cross-generational Alliances in the LGBTQ-Community.
Following a string of widely reported suicides of LGBTQ-youths, the "It Gets Better"-Project was launched in the fall of 2010. A youtube-channel was created, featuring "inspirational" videos of politicians, activists and other public figures, reassuring teenagers, who face discrimination and adversity because of their sexual identity, that progress and improvement is eventually down the line for them. Most of these videos are accounts of adult members of the LGBTQ-community sharing their own experience of growing up and coming out in America and their struggle to find acceptance and hope. The campaign marks an incision in queer activism from an ostensibly unified outward-directed call for equality to an acknowledgment of cracks in the linear-progressive narrative of Gay Pride and the fragmentation of experiences across generations.
The sociological and cultural category of "generation" is frequently criticized as an arbitrary division along demographic lines, producing false dichotomies between age groups and feeding disparaging "Kids these days"-sentiments. Yet, generational narratives have also provide discursive templates for individual and communal affiliation. My paper wants to examine the "It Gets Better"-campaign as an example of new modes of forging alliances and solidarity across queer generations, as a response to, but also a product of the digitalization of communities in the social media age. The exchange between generations, in this case, mostly between Generation X and the succeeding Millennials, reveals both disparities and similarities in historical experiences, which are mirrored in individual accounts of improvement as part of coming of age. The concept of a "Generation," here, reconfigures a historical assemblage through familial concepts of mentorship and cohesion. I want to explore how this generational dialogue is productive in imagining queer futurities but also limited in its construction of community and belonging.
Carmen Séra (University of Vienna): Participation and Cultural Production regarding Responses to Well-Known Clandestine Alliances.
The disappearance of a group of students in the state of Guerrero in Mexico in September 2014 led to a series of protests that shed light on the extent of corruption and organised crime in the country once again. This very well-known form of alliance in Mexico has been transforming Mexican society for decades now, shifting power towards organised criminals. Their cooperation with government officials and other functionaries has been impeding the clarification of atrocities in various cases, as it does in the aforementioned.
The popular mobilization in the aftermath of the massacre in Iguala included protesting citizens from across various socioeconomic, cultural and political boundaries, forming (imagined) communities on protests marches as well as online. The transformative demands reach beyond the disclosure of what happened in Iguala.
The paper at hand analyses the interplay between the imaginary and the material, the cultural resonances and representations of those alliances. It deals with cultural representations of the disappearance and the dissemination of material announcing participatory events. The hegemonic cultural production of political advertising by the post-revolutionary political actors is also being challenged. Furthermore, the research reviews the causes for the building of alliances and how they display themselves. Therefore, a short historical retrospect is given to facilitate the orientation within the specific contextual environment.
Moreover, the paper asks for the solidarity of non-affected students to approach an understanding of counter-alliances, investigating the politics of empathy and the potential of agency in numbers as observed throughout the documentation of protests and demonstrations.
Panel Chair: Dr. Simon Schleusener (FU Berlin)
Panel VI: Getting Together – The Aesthetics of Collaboration
Sonja Longolius (FU Berlin): Double Game: Paul Auster’s and Sophie Calle’s Authorial Collaboration.
The publication Double Game (1999) marks the artistic climax of authorial cooperation between the writer Paul Auster and the conceptual artist Sophie Calle to date. As different as their production and proceeding in their careers have been, this collaborative artist book clearly discloses common and uncommon causes significant for Calle’s and Auster’s oeuvres and their development. “Paul Auster had used specific aspects of my life in his novel Leviathan, and it was interesting to reverse the game and to acquire the characteristics that he had thought of for me“ Calle recaunts. So she created an inversion of fiction into reality by appropriating Auster’s conceived work “The Chromatic Diet” (1997) to effectively make this artwork her own and to include it in her oeuvre. After having developed an appetite in “The Chromatic Diet” for performing the life of an imaginary person, Calle then asked Auster to create an independent literary character for her to follow his instructions up to one year. Auster refused to take responsibility for Calle, instead he sent her a manuscript of half a dozen typewritten pages entitled “Gotham Handbook: Personal Instructions for S.C. on How to Improve Life in New York City (Because she asked…).” “Gotham Handbook” constitutes the central direct collaboration between Calle and Auster as the grand finale of the mutual artist book Double Game. In my talk, I will present Auster’s and Calle’s authorial alliance and exhibit the aesthetic pleasures and interdisciplinary limitations of collaboration in the arts.
Rieke Jordan (FU Berlin): Imagined Alliances and Fandom in Beck Hansen's Song Reader.
My paper explores the alliances established among fans and artist by looking at Beck Hansen's Song Reader, a sheet music collection published in 2012 by McSweeney's. Dubbed “20 New Songs by Beck,” Beck never intended to record them himself, but they remain inaudible and silent unless the “song reader” invests time and skill to learn to perform the songs. Song Reader decisively draws on the tradition of American sheet music and interrogates that very tradition and its permutation in the digital age. I will therefore argue that the media-specificity of Song Reader explores the role of the fan and the inherent novel, digital ways of consumption and creation--- alone or in a group, offline or online.
Song Reader begs questions about what one could coin “imagined alliances” among these many different song readers and challenges who and what a fan is today. How is fandom re-configured through Beck's seemingly liberating endeavors to give his fans a voice as well as a creative space to appropriate his songs? To whom do these songs belong to, in the end, and what kind of liberties do they grant the song reader? And, most importantly, how can Song Reader possibly create imagined alliances among thousands of Beck fans, all practicing the songs with varying degrees of skill? Raising these questions by looking at an malleable artifact such as Song Reader, participatory culture in pop-culture can be re-assessed; Song Reader adds a new and updated vantage point on alliances in American culture today.
Katharina Metz (FU Berlin): Knitting Together: Woman Reform in the Late 19th Century.
The quarterly magazine The Altruist Interchange (1893-1897) was published by and for women. It featured reports of philanthropic activities, short stories, poetry, appeals for political participation and advice on how to sew baby socks. This paper will analyze in which ways those last two interests intersect: The philanthropic organization at the center of the periodical, The Needlework Guild of America, summoned women to share the fruits of their household labor – their needlework - in state-wide guilds. By advocating the novelty of the American Needlework Guild, an organization originally from England, the magazine also dedicates itself to the formation of transatlantic alliances in the cause of woman reform. Both the reformist organization and the periodical are dedicated to a professionalization of private charitable action formerly restricted to the domestic sphere, and thus to an institutionalization of philanthropic work by women.
In this paper, I will read the periodical as part of an ongoing reformulation of woman reform at the end of the 19th century. While the reformist interest - or the “cultural work” - of mid-century woman writing is often envisioned in the realm of the domestic and the “sentimental”, late-nineteenth century reformers reached out for new allies: Rhetorically and conceptually, women drew from the domains of politics and science in their calls for reformist action. By looking closely at the magazine’s focus on notions of female labor and the guild, this paper will analyze how late-19th century woman reform can be understood as an endeavor to “knit together”, that is, to organize female domestic labor in professional and political associations.
Panel Chair: Birte Wege (FU Berlin)
Panel VII: Whose City? Claiming Space in the (Sub-)Urban Environment
Dennis Büscher-Ulbrich (University of Kiel): The Right to New York City? Democratic Politics and the Trouble with La Police.
In Disagreement (1999 ) Jacques Rancière introduced the polemical notion of “the police” to refer to the set of procedures whereby the aggregation and consent of collectivities is achieved, the organization of powers, the distribution of places and roles, and the systems for legitimizing such distribution. “Politics,” by contrast, is an activity radically antagonistic to policing: “whatever breaks with the tangible conﬁguration whereby parties and parts or lack of them are deﬁned by a presupposition that, by deﬁnition, has no place in that conﬁguration.” Accordingly, politics is not a matter of negotiating conflicting interests, nor the exercise of power. Rather, it is a matter of what people do that challenges the hierarchical order of the given and therefore in the process constitutes a political subject (“the demos,” “the people,” “the proletariat,” “the 99%,” etc.) that disrupts not only the power arrangements of the social order, but also its perceptual and epistemic underpinnings, the naturalness that attaches to it.
Taking its cues from Rancière, the paper thus explores urban scenes of both political dissensus and policed consensus in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx that are structured by global antagonisms. Given the politico-economic and socio-cultural production of space (Lefebvre 1991), it scrutinizes the material-symbolic practices of counter-hegemonic urban actors that radically contest the given neoliberal order and policing of spaces, places, and subjectivities. Prompted by the crisis of “actually existing neoliberalism” (Brenner 2002), these include a) the contemporary resurgence and rethinking of the idea of “the commons” and actual practices of “commoning” (Linebaugh 2009, Hardt/Negri 2010, Harvey 2012), b) practices of collective “appropriation” of urban spaces and places visible in the struggles against gentrification, or displacement, and new social movements such as Occupy Wall Street, Reclaim the Streets, or Right to the City (Brenner 2011, Harvey 2012, Purcell 2014), and c) the insurgencies and communal experiments of the marginalized and generally racialized urban poor (Kelley 1997, Wacquant 2009, Merrifield 2014).
Jeremy Williams (FU Berlin): Revolt from the Suburbs: Populist Conservative Coalitions in North American Cities.
While much attention is being focussed on progressive urban alliances such as Occupy or Ferguson, a phenomenon from the opposite end of the political spectrum is becoming an increasing feature of city politics in North America. A growing number of conservative Mayoral candidates have found success in recent years through building electoral coalitions incorporating suburban blue collar workers and immigrants. Such candidates have explicitly placed themselves in opposition to 'downtown' (liberal) elites, the status quo of political business as usual, and popular (new) urbanist ideas about the ways that cities should function, how they should look, and who they should be for.
This presentation argues that this re-energised conservative renaissance in urban politics is a significant and overlooked development, particularly as the success and subsequent wielding of political power by these candidates can often be seen an attempt to reshape both the physical and political landscape of their cities. Furthermore, the ability of such candidates to draw a wide range of electoral support, particularly from economically less well-off voters, also raises questions as to what extent progressive urban coalitions effectively represent a view of the city supported by large sections of the urban population. I will discuss why a new generation of conservative candidates has been able to build such coalitions, and the implications of the increasing popularity of their 'versions' of the city, for the study of urban North America.
Politicians such as Toronto's Rob Ford, prior to the much publicised problems with his extra-curricular activities, was able to win the Mayoralty in Canada's largest city through co-opting surburban everyman rhetoric, promising to “end the gravy train” at city hall and pursue an agenda sympathetic to the perceived perspective of his largely suburban electoral basis. Ford's success was particularly interesting both in his successful articulation of a vision of what the city should 'be': auto dependent, low tax and run on a diet of 'common sense', but also through his ability to co-opt immigrants and blue collar workers into his vision, one which was both of the way government should operate, but also what the city should look like, and indeed who it should be 'for'.
This presentation argues that while a focus on new urban coalitions such as Occupy and Ferguson is instructive for a certain understanding the social dynamics of contemporary urban North America, it is the re-energised conservative movement has been able to take power in cities across North America which is arguably more significant both in terms of a wider context of polarization, and also giving voice to those groups of the populace that more 'progressive' causes claim to represent.
Dr. Simone Knewitz (University of Bonn): “Nobody’s Home Is Safe”: Eminent Domain and the Cultural Work of the Property Rights Movement.
Since the late 1970s, a so-called “property rights movement,” orchestrated by public interest firms such as the Pacific Legal Foundation and the Institute for Justice, has emerged in the United States, fighting in courts against the alleged intrusion of the state into private property rights. Eminent domain issues, such as, most prominently, the Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London (2006) have played a particularly significant role in this endeavor. In Kelo, the Supreme Court discussed the question whether private economic development satisfies the Constitution’s requirement that the government have a “public use” for property that it takes by eminent domain. Forming an uncommon alliance, civil rights organizations such as the NAACP joined libertarian property rights activists in support of the plaintiff Susette Kelo.
Focusing especially on the Kelo case, I investigate the cultural work of the property rights movement. My paper will delineate the evolvement of the movement, tracing and critically evaluating the public discourse on property that it triggered. Why did property rights become so prominent on the public agenda at that particular moment? Why does the debate center on questions of eminent domain? And which larger cultural issues are being negotiated in this context? I argue that the debates are the symptom of a political power struggle, with conservatives seeking to shift political institutions and public opinion into a libertarian direction, transferring property issues from the legal to the cultural realm and sanctifying the right to property in the process. Simultaneously, however, the debate's impetus can also be interpreted as a reaction to neoliberalism and the perceived erosion of individual agency in the face of globalization and a more precarious economic climate.