chapter  13
The Accidental Eruption of an Anarchist Protest
Pages 12

There are three different but complementary contextual dimensions of the Greek protests of December 2008. The first is international, and involves the international press coverage of those events, as well as the actions of solidarity that erupted in various cities across the globe. The second dimension, the national one, concerns the various narratives produced in Greece by institutional observers and the mainstream media. The third and apparently least-known dimension is local and interpretative. By this, I refer to the perspectives of the protagonists, those involved in violent acts, and especially the anarchist groups of the Exarcheia neighbourhood of Athens. While these three levels differ in terms of importance and form, each had a catalytic effect on the others, both as events developed on the ground and, afterwards, as they were analyzed by the media, political actors and academic observers. Although the intersection of these three dimensions led many observers to characterize the events of December 2008 as a ‘social rebellion’ against the state, this chapter argues that they are best conceptualized as ‘urban riots’. Such a perspective helps explain much about hidden aspects of the violence, which I will discuss in the body of this chapter, as well as the confused reactions to it by institutional actors of state, party, media and intelligentsia.