Workshop 9:Social Media, Urban Movements and Grass-Roots Creativity in the Mediterranean during the Crisis

MRM 2013



Lila (Triantafyllia) Leontidou

Hellenic Open University , Greece - London School of Economics and Political Science, UK;

 Antònia Casellas Puigdemasa,

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain




This workshop will investigate the existence and the rhythms of cycles of interaction between grass-roots creativity and technological change, and the ways in which these impact urban restructuring during the present political and financial crisis. The main question posed is, how ICT development and dissemination, social media and consequent digital interaction among individuals, collectivities and cities, sparks mobilizations and creates new forms of grass-roots creativity, participatory democracy and political participation, crystallizing social capital and civil societies countering the crisis. Inversely, the question is also, how the creative urban grass-roots and its social movements have an impact on the restructuring of Mediterranean cities, with the emergence of new concepts for the creative city, new policy trends and new political discourses and imaginations as a result. Transformations of material public spaces, policy making, virtual public spaces, social networks and ICT domains will be examined in this context. Particular attention will be oriented towards the fundamental changes and transitions of Mediterranean cities during the 2010s, after the “Arab Spring” in North Africa and the “Movement of the Piazzas” in the EU periphery during the debt crisis.




The aims and objectives of the workshop are to investigate emerging initiatives of the creative urban grass-roots in contrast with the urbicidal one, and their impact on the cities and networks of cities. The workshop focuses on 1) urban material and virtual public spaces emergent after the dissemination of ICTs and the creation of social networks by the young and other citizens’ groups; 2) forms of interaction between social media and urban and transnational social movements after the outbreak of the crisis; 3) imaginations and arguments articulated by political protest and the extent to which these have influenced the

dominant political rationale; 4) strategies devised by national and local authorities with respect to mobilizations in their territories (from recuperation and suppression to participatory policy making); and 5) possible contributions by intellectuals, academics, citizens and social movements, which can meaningfully inform a structural change towards a more inclusive decision-making process and new concepts about the creative city.

Since, among a large number of applicants, 16 participants will be selected, the workshop must be structured into at least three sections. The basic structure will consist of a theoretical part on ICT development, social media and the city, with an emphasis on social movements, survival strategies and grass-roots creativity therein, and a socio-geographical part with case studies of Mediterranean cities in the 2010s, in the light of earlier histories in the region. The latter part can be further sub-divided into sections, depending on papers offered during the call – e.g. into sections on Northern African and Southern European cities (there may emerge a special section on the ‘Arab spring’ or on the ‘movement of the piazzas’, for that matter); or to grass-roots creativity and policy making in the Mediterranean. This will depend on the number of papers proposed on each of these topics and the balance between them after the call for papers.

The subject of the proposed workshop calls for an interdisciplinary group of speakers: mainly geographers and sociologists, planners and political scientists, but also economists, anthropologists, cultural theorists, but also policy makers and activists, will be welcome to present their research on these issues.


Page last updated on 19 June 2012