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Prolegomena: In a World Turned Upside Down

As the final words of this book are written, we are witnessing the consequences of the contestation in Turkey. For the time, Erdoğan managed to emerge as winner: first his party won the Parliamentary elections, and then he became the first ever directly elected President of Turkish Republic with 51%. Yet, the struggle is by no means over as Turkey is as divided as ever: the echo of the Gezi Square slogan, “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance” has become the motto President Erdoğan is up against. The toll of 11 protesters killed and 8,000 injured is the legacy of this contestation. The latest clashes occurred when protesters took to the streets to protest against the country’s dismal work safety record following the country’s worst industrial accident. The previous wave of conflict in Turkey was sparked by the death of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old boy, who was in coma for 269 days after being hit on the head by a Police tear-gas. Images of the youth-symbol of the struggle, Berkin were depicted next to the image of Alexis Grigoropoulos, the other youth who was also killed by the Police in Athens in 2008, the event that sparked unprecedented mass rebellion in all major cities of Greece. Football fans from Turkey, Greece and Italy expressed their grief for Berkin Elvan: AEK Athens fans displayed a banner featuring a photograph of Elvan along with Alexis Grigoropoulos.1 Turkey is still today a mass battleground, initially sparked by the contestation over the nature of the Gezi Park in İstanbul; that was enough to open up a vicious cycle of contestation shaking the stability of what was seen as the model of Islamic neoliberalism, Turkish or AKP-style.

Introduction: Mobile Commons, Migrant Digitalities and the Right to the City

We live in a digital world undergoing contradictory deep transformations. Digitality, however, can neither be seen as some miraculous transformatory manna from heaven, nor as the prelude of a world of total surveillance. Digitality and the new knowledge forms contained and transmitted are a vital organizing force. This force generates and shapes various mobile commons which are an essential acquisition resulting from the collective power to reshape the world of people on the move. In the current austerity-and-crisis times, migrant mobility plays a major role in the reconfiguration of the Social Question. In this sense mobile commons are revolutionizing and transforming the world.

1. Theorizing Migration, Praxis and the Crisis of Migration Crisis

The crisis has highlighted an uneasiness of integration policies and politics that stems mostly from the growing irrelevance of generic citizenship. Citizenship in times of crisis and austerity, or what we call austerity citizenship is failing in its basic function the inclusion of noncitizens; even differential inclusion is minimal. Mobile commons as shared knowledge, affective cooperation, mutual support and care between migrants (and other subalterns) extends further the theoretical debates on migration, particularly regarding the autonomy of migration. Moreover, it transcends the limitations of the stale citizenship debates. An net(h)nography of border regimes, as they are deployed around flexible and porous border zones, can elucidate migrant praxis, its repercussions and potentialities.

2. The South-Eastern Triangle: The Spatio-Historical Context

Athens, Nicosia and Istanbul share a fascinating past of mobility. The study of migrant social movements in the three cities opens up a much broader terrain than an area-specific terrain, regarding social movements, migration and digitality. Beyond the dichotomy between “old” and “new” social movements, we examine the emergence of germinal social movements. Frequently these are accompanied by moral panics, but not necessarily so. The three arrival cities where subaltern migrants, along with other subalterns, deploy their strategies and praxes of social movements; they in turn, chart out new socialities, new spatialities and reshape new citizenship modes.

3. Migrant Subjectivities, Struggles and Turbulence in Three Arrival Cities

The researchers’ encounters with subaltern migrant acts, performances, daily livelihood and struggles in Athens, Nicosia and Istanbul are moments in turbulence which are read as products of ephemeral, contingent and liminal spaces. Yet, these spaces are also co-produced by these very moments of the acts and struggles. In spaces reminiscent of Bob Marely’s song Everywhere is War and urban decay is frequently dramatized, migrants ephemerally produce and reproduce not only their survival strategies; their everyday interactions and struggles produces public spaces via the organization of their liminal work and leisure. In some cases, these struggles have the allure of festivity; in others the scent of loss and emptiness; in others a sense of violence. In all of them, commoning, that is creating commons, is a shared process.

4. The Right to the City Revisited: Charting and Envisioning Future Struggles and Politics

We live in rebel cities in riotous times. Everyday struggles in the urban fabric are recast in a terrain woven by the dirty word of gentrification or within ghettoes of no-go areas. Despite the asymmetric power-relations between economic and political elites and subaltern, the subalterns are not mere victims or spectators in the erection of urban frontiers. Their very presence, their ways of inhabiting and transforming the world; in short, they are producing urban space making them vital constitutional elements of the city as an œuvre. The realization of the right to the city is not the concluding paragraph of the history of urban struggles that will inevitably lead to absolute liberation. It is an open process happening now; a disputable and controversial enjeu around which subjectivities build their present and future. And it is happening every day. The subalterns indeed speak; more importantly, they act.

Conclusions: The Future Lasts Forever and It’s Happening Now

Digitality, (urban) activism and the generation of mobile commons through migrant mobility have been the fils conducteurs in our flânerie in the three arrival cities of Athens, Nicosia and Istanbul. Empirical findings provide solid evidence that digital forms of representation in the context of migration and transnational activism differ in terms of effect and visibility in the field. The activity of the networks, as it takes place face-to-face, is not reflected in the intensity of its digital representation. In general, the networking between different groups/actors is maintained and deepened. In this sense, we can begin to imagine of a right to the city reloaded. We can begin to imagine future struggles that will emerge by any means necessary. Their character, and more importantly, their outcome, however, is always uncertain and unpredictable.


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