Exploring transterranean activism as a research site beyond local protest sites. 2023, in: Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. Link.
Increased interest in the spatial dimension of protests and activism has led to both the material spatial condition of protest activities and their spatial effect entering academic debate. With Social Movements being a dominant paradigm for activism which focuses on strategic localization and scalar tactics, an emphasis has been put on political activities in proximity to either centralized power or to actor communities and networks. On the fringes of Social Movements, however, smaller types of direct action have been emerging in places outside of conventional, landed spaces. Chinese and Japanese nationalists symbolically contesting national authority over islands in the Pacific, Environmentalists blockading oil platforms in the North Sea, refugee rights groups preventing air-based deportations and nationalists attempting to prevent human rights groups from saving drowning migrants have in common that the site of their activities are beyond the traditional power base of the state on solid ground and make use of specific sets of laws and regulations. This paper argues that transterranean spaces encompass an interplay of state and non-state actors heavily impacted by their location. As these spaces exist beyond the mainland, they share a lack of presence of both state and society. Both state agencies and activists have to adapt their strategies during successive contentions. I conceptualize this relationship as contentious configurations shaping these interactions: Vertical Activist-State, horizontal activist-activist and interconnected state-state contentious configurations. They serve as heuristic tool to analyze protest dynamics in transterranean spaces by highlighting both state power and actor’s engagement with it. With technological advancements and increased access to transterranean, such contentions are likely to increase.