Collective identity across borders: bridging local and transnational memories in the Italian and German Global Justice Movements PRIS kA DAPHI
Introduction Social movement scholars have long been enthusiastic about the capacity of transnational movements to overcome spatial and socio-cultural divides, but recent studies underline how the local and national dimensions of transnational activism are also highly significant (e.g. Uggla 2006; Cumbers et al. 2008; della Porta 2005). Instead of bearing witness to a ‘disappearance of space’ (Harvey 1992), transnational social movements are based on a plurality of intersecting spaces (Cumbers et al. 2008; Pries 2005; Routledge 2000; Sassen 2000). They encompass different contexts of interaction at the local, national, and transnational levels. This plurality of spaces challenges social movements in several respects. It complicates coordination, decision-making and, most significantly, the construction of collective identity. Constructing a collective identity relies upon a spatially concentrated base from which similarities can be drawn, and upon which dense webs of informal and direct exchanges can be built (Melucci 1996; Andretta et al. 2003; della Porta and Diani 2006; Hetherington 1998). The literature on ‘free spaces’1 has developed this point most elaborately: free spaces facilitate face-to-face contact and regular interaction and thereby create trust, understanding, and affection (Taylor 1995; Polletta 1999; Polletta and Jasper 2001). How is collective identity built within transnational movements in which there is no single physically shared space, but instead various free spaces that intersect with transnational meetings and networks? Drawing on a narrative approach to movement identity, this contribution explores the construction of collective identity in transnational social movements in relation to collective memory and the spaces to which it is bound. More specifically, it focuses on the construction of a sense of shared experience and space in the Global Justice Movement (GJM). The narrative approach to collective identity facilitates insights into processes of collective identity construction in social movements beyond frame analysis, the predominant method in the field (Daphi 2011), because of its consideration of how meaning is produced through temporal ordering. Due to its socio-cultural heterogeneity and geographic complexity, the GJM constitutes a particularly interesting case for analysing the
construction of collective identity (cf. Andretta et al. 2003). In particular, this chapter focuses on two distinct national constellations of the movement in Italy and Germany in order to reveal similar processes amongst the different groups of activists. In the following section, I will first elaborate upon this chapter’s narrative approach to collective identity and specify the study’s analytical methods. Subsequently, I will introduce the GJM in Italy and Germany, and then proceed to analyse activists’ memories in two parts: first, by comparing their accounts of important events of the movement, and second, by showing how these events connect local, national, and transnational levels.