Noise, breeze, cars, lorries, people rushing to work, streets, pathways, shops, traffic lights, trees, men, women, children, friends, relatives, strangers, buildings… every city has a rhythm, with different intensities, with different resonances in our bodies and through our bodies. Our bodies also resonate in cities, are fundamental for them. For Lefebvre, the body has a central role in uncovering urban rhythms (2013). All moments, intensities and rhythms are here and there, past, present, and future. They become stronger or weaker, hidden or shown, lost and missed. As Jasbir Puar suggests (2013: 381) «along with a de-exceptionalizing of human bodies, multiple forms of matter can be bodies – bodies of water, cities, institutions, and soon. Matter is an actor». Following Barad, I think that matter is not a thing, but a doing (2007: 207). Cities then are productive bodies that are alive, produce life, are polyrythmic and assemble diverse human and nonhuman voices that are simultaneously private and public, sacred and profane, visible and secret. And now, in pandemic and lockdown times, this is more evident than ever before. The rhythms of the city have been abruptly stopped: silence and birds replace cars and lively chatting in bar terraces; smells have changed; emptiness replaces touching, hearing and laughing; screens are everywhere.
Writing this amidst the Spanish lockdown because of Covid-19, I want to focus on two occasions (or events) now impossible, that affect, interrupt, enhance, alter, intensify and resonate through cities and other (human) bodies. Feast and protest stand among other situations or rituals, as timespaces when different rhythms impose. Feast and protest intensify social links, alter our use of time and space (be it public or private), and resonate through us. They affect rhythms and create peculiar ‹emoscapes› (Kenway and Fahey, 2011), diverse and intersecting emotional landscapes of relation. The fact that feast and protest are considered among the most disruptive occasions of «everyday life» has produced their combination: in Spain, nowadays, many protests are also feasts, such as Pride celebrations (Enguix, 2019).
Considering the posthuman continuity between matter and discourse and between nature andculture, this text will explore some of the pro-independence protests in Barcelona under the inspiration of Lefebvre’s rhythmanalytical project (1999), emoscapes and posthuman assemblages. Lefebvre’s rhythmanalytical project is interesting because it brings together time and space, the public and the private, and the state-political and the intimate. Posthuman assemblages allow us to focus on relation, de-privilege the human body and pay attention both to human and non-human actors. Emoscapes attend to emotions as social links and their effects. In this text, I will particularly attend to their political effects.
I will focus on some imaginative public protests held mainly between 14th-20th October 2019 in Barcelona as a response to the sentences to prison dictated against pro-independence leaders and members of the Catalan government. Most of these protests were organized by Tsunami Democràtic, an anonymous group. It presents itself as a pro-independence platform impulsed by civil society. It was created in August 2019 and was particularly active in October protests, like CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Republic), also created by civil society impulse. In a few days, Tsunami reached more than 400.000 followers in their Twitter and Telegram accounts. No one knew (nor knows) who is in charge of Tsunami and CDR for security and anti-repressive reasons. Tsunami’s last activity in Telegram is dated back to 14th January 2020 and their last retweets date from 17th February 2020.
The name Tsunami Democràtic needs little explanation: it was created as a popular movement without visible leaders, in order to flood streets with a democratic tide to confront judicial sentences. During protests, some people were in charge of spreading among the crowds QR codes that would announce the following actions. Protests relied heavily on technology, mouth-to-mouth procedures, and social relations. Tsunami proved to be very advanced technologically speaking, with an enormous capacity to create and reactivate QR codes and social media accounts after they were banned and closed by the Spanish government several times. But before looking at these protests, let me give some context.
Some (very short) Tips on Barcelona and Catalonia
Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia, an autonomous community with its own parliament. Catalonia is the second most populated community in Spain, (7.565.099 people in 2019), and Barcelona is the second biggest city in Spain (1 636 762 people in 2019).
It is interesting to establish a difference between Catalonia and Països Catalans. The pro-independence more leftist organisations (Esquerra independentista, EI from now on) claim for the independence of Països Catalans. Talking about Països Catalans situates people in the political spectrum (radical left). The idea of Països Catalans is linked to the territories of the Ancient Aragon Crown and include some parts of France and L’Alguer in Sardinia.
Source: https://blocs.mesvilaweb.cat/vicent/?p=268581 (retrieved 10 April 2020)
In the 18th century, Spain suffered the War of Succession: there were two candidates to the Spanish Crown (then a country with different courts in Castile, Basque Country and Aragon). The Austrian Archduke, the natural succession as Spain had been ruled by the Habsburgs, was supported by the Aragon Crown as he promised to keep its privileges. The Borbon candidate was supported by Castile and the Basque Country. When the Borbon won the war, all privileges for the Aragon Crown were eliminated (they had courts and a special jurisdiction, apart from their own language, Catalan). Aragonese and Catalan defeat was definite in 1714, a very symbolic date for Catalonia.
Under Franco’s dictatorship, Spain was one, big and free (una, grande y libre): for fourty years the Spanish government tried to erase the differences between territories (some of them self-labelled as nations, like Catalonia) even banning their language (Catalan, Basque, Galician and others). Democracy and the so-called Spanish Transition brought about an autonomic state. The privileges of each autonomous community were agreed on their Statute of Autonomy, most of them issued in the last 1970s-1980s. Now, some services are transferred to autonomies, for example, education, justice, and health although the Spanish instances are always on top of the autonomous regulations.
In Catalonia, many historians say that it was in 2006 when the current movement of support to independence started. There had been, historically speaking, other ‹hot› moments in the 19th century, in the 1930s and in other moments. The 1979 Catalan Statute of Autonomy was reformed in 2006 to acknowledge that Catalonia is a nation, among other questions. The conservative party then governing Spain (Popular Party) considered that many of the terms introduced in an Statute that was voted in a referendum in Catalonia, were not in accordance with the Spanish Constitution (the term ‹nation› being particularly controversial). The discussion on the Statute revived the question of Catalonia’s place and status in Spain. Between 2009 and 2011 some Catalan towns organized small pro-independence referendums. The Supreme Court of Spain dictated sentence in 2010 and the term ‹nation› and other modifications of the Statute had to be abandoned. This provoked the first mass mobilization in Barcelona (1 million people) under the slogan «We are a nation, we decide». In 2010-2011, Spain was in the middle of a tremendous economic crisis and austerity policies, what boosted social protests and movements like the 15-M Indignados movement (2011). Returning power to the people, fighting social injustice and questioning our democracy as a ‹real› democracy were some of its cornerstones. It coincided with Arab Spring and other protests around the world which had in common that they were grassroots movements and claimed for real democracy and social justice with an anticapitalist accent.
According to some data, in 2012 for the first time the support for independence in Catalonia became stronger than the support for the autonomous or the federal formulas. Independence was included in the program of some political parties. After the autonomous elections of 2012, Catalan president Artur Mas started talking about the Catalan way to independence. In 2015, in the autonomous elections, a pro-independence coalition, Junts per Catalunya, won the elections. In 2017, on 6-7 September, the Catalan Parliament unilaterally convoked a referendum on independence and opened the ‹via to the Independence› (in fact it proclaimed the independence). The proposed question for the referendum was: Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state and a republic?
The Catalan government, politicians and social leaders had long asked for a dialogue between the Spanish and the Catalan governments, in order to tackle social discontent and claims. The Spanish government reacted and on 20 September 2017 Spanish security forces went into the Catalan Department of Economy (the autonomous Ministry) in order to search and take all evidences related to the celebration of a referendum that according to Spanish rules was illegal. A mass mobilization organized by civil society organisations against the police searches followed.
On 1st of October, amidst brutal police repression, the ‹illegal› referendum took place. Considering that ‹constitutionalists› (as they call themselves) or anti-independence followers did not vote, the results are not concluding1. After the referendum, the Spanish Government and the Senate applied to Catalonia the Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, never applied before: that meant the suppression of autonomy. Catalonia was under Spanish rule from 27th October 2017 until 2nd June 2018.
The President of the Catalan government (Carles Puigdemont) and other leaders had to go to exile, the president of the Catalan Parliament and some counsellors were put in prison accused of rebellion or sedition, and the presidents of two civil society organisations that had been active in the protest in front of the Economy Department were also put into prison accused of calling to the insurrection.
Of course, this is not the place to discuss these measures, but loads of news, public discussions and legal interpretations followed. The Catalan ‹question› had become the most important ‹problem› for Spain. It became a judicial problem, more than a political problem since politicians were not open to dialogue. When the Spanish government called to autonomous elections in Catalonia on 21st December 2017 under the article 155 (the Catalan government was in exile or in prison and had lost the power to rule Catalonia), Ciudadanos (a constitutionalist party against independence) won in votes, but a pro-independence coalition reached the numbers to form government. It is the governing coalition, at the moment of writing.
According to the survey of the Institute of Political and Social Sciences (ICPS; UAB) based on 1040 interviews and undercarried between Spetember and October 2019 a 6,9% of people over 18 lining in Catalonia consider that Catalonia should be a region of Spain; 20,8% consider it should be part of a federal state; 26,3% think that it should be what it is, an autonomous community, and 36,9% consider that Catalonia should be an independent state. When asked if they prefer to be an independent state or part of Spain, a 43,6% declare that they want an independent state and a 48, 2% want Catalonia to be part of Spain. The rest do not know. Support to independence is enormous but it is not predominant in Catalan society if we consider the results of the surveys and the results of the elections. Both positions (pro-independence or anti-independence) are very close in social support (between 40% and 50% of the population). One of the most interesting questions of this survey dealt with the so-called ‘sovereignity process’ (procés sobiranista, or procés). A 33,9% of the interviewees would like the Procés to end with Catalonia’s independence but only a 11,3% believe that it will end that way. A 45,7% people declare that they would like that the Procés finished with an agreement with Spain in order to provide Catalonia with more self-governance; in fact, a 41% of interviewees think that the Procés will end this way.
It was not until 14 October 2019 that the Spanish Supreme Court published the sentence for the Catalan leaders that had been judged because of the call to independence in September 2017, disobeying the Spanish law in the Catalan Parliament, and the call to a referendum on independence in October 2017. They were condemned for sedition and embezzlement to more than 10 years of prison each.
From 14th to 20th October Barcelona lived in an alienated state: the city became a battlefield flooded with songs, flags, bodies, and emotions. Everyday life was kind of ‹suspended›. There were protests everywhere, ranging from mass mobilisations to violent confrontations in the city center. Life was concentrated in protest: the rhythm of the city and of all the people in it, was altered. Emotions and movements intensified and resonated in and through every-body, was it supportive or unsupportive. As most protests took place in the center, people were constantly moving to and from other parts of the city. A sense of companionship, mutual support and collectivity spread not only among those supporters of independence but also among many others who did not agree with the Spanish government methods to tackle this claim nor with the published judicial sentence. Mass mobilizations have followed with lesser intensities to the day.
Some Tips on Actors and Data
As previously said, in October 2019, the Institute for Social and Political Sciences carried out an official survey on the political context in Catalonia. Age and gender do not seem to affect support to independence despite the common ideas that connect young people with the EI. In the last Spanish elections (November 2019) in three of the four Catalan provinces, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya won (this is a pro-independence party). In Barcelona city, the socialist party won (this is an anti-independence party). Apart from having its own Parliament, Catalonia holds 48 seats out of the 350 seats of the Spanish Parliament. Nowadays 23 seats are for pro-independence parties (ERC, Junts x Si Cup), 7 for Podem, and 18 for constitutionalist parties (12 for the socialist party).
Who are the protagonists of this? First, we have pro-independence political parties and coalitions. From right-wing positions to left-wing positions, we find:
Partid dels democrates de Catalunya (PdeCAT) participating in Junts x SI (governing coalition in Catalonia) Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) (governing coalition in Catalonia) Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP, member of the EI, and a coalition itself)
All these groups hold seats both in the Catalan and in the Spanish Parliament. The pro-independence left (Esquerra Independentista, EI) holds the most leftist position: it claims to fight for a socialist, a feminist and an independent republic of Països Catalans from an anticapitalist perspective. Its members are a Students Trade Union (Sindicat d’Estudiants dels Països Catalans, SEPC), a trade union (Coordinadora Obrera Sindical, COS), an anti-repressive organisation (Alerta Solidària), a political organisation (Endavant), CUP and a youth organisation (Arran). CUP Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, was created in 1986 and is a coalition of pro-independence and republican groups (mainly Endavant, Poble Lliure, Moviment de Defensa de la terra). In 2008 it became a political party, in 2012 it participated in the autonomous elections for the first time (before it had only participated in municipal elections) and in November 2019 it participated for the first time in the Spanish elections with the slogan «we will not be governed» and the objective to block the institutions. They have 335 councilors in municipalities, 4 deputies in the Catalan Parliament (they had 12 before) and 2 deputies in the Spanish Parliament. ARRAN is a youth organization created in 2012. They claim to defend independence, socialism and feminism and consider that an independent Catalan State is the means for a feminist and a socialist republic. Their public actions (attacks with paint and confetti to touristic buses, attacks to shops against sizes) are in the fringe of legality, what places them in a vulnerable position. In fact, the far right in Spain accuses them of terrorism and wants to illegalize all nationalist parties and associations. Apart from them there are in the political scenario some pro-independence groups promoted by civil society. Assemblea Nacional de Catalunya (ANC) (whose president, Carme Forcadell, became the president of the Catalan Parliament and is now in prison) and Omnium Cultural are the most important. They occupy a center position in political terms and have spread the use of the yellow colour and of yellow ribbons as a symbol against the imprisonment of political leaders. Other civil society organisations are Tsunami Democràtic, which assembles all political positions and Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR), situated more in the left.
Rhythms, Emotions and Protest
Protests are supposed to interrupt the usual rhythm of cities. However, considering rhythm in a Lefebvrian sense as a philosophical category based on articulations of the everyday life that have a fundamental political character, we must consider protest not as an interruption but as a change, a modulation, intensification or modification of the usual routines. This change of the everyday routines has a strong political explicit accent. It intensifies some traits and erases other traits of our everyday life. Protest intensifies our consciousness of having a body and stresses the limits between our bodies and other bodies, particularly when there are confrontations. It intensifies our feelings of vulnerability.
Protests are profoundly embodied and disembodied, as our body merges with other bodies in invisible links that create a multiple body in massive protests and crowds. Protest produces an ‹us› that opposes a ‹them›, but they mainly produce an ‹us›. In creating our ‹us› they show how they are profoundly emotional and visual. Through emotional contagion (Ammaturo, 2015) bodies and public space are intensified, both as political tools and as instruments for social control. Space and bodies become sites for control and resistance; they become emoscapes where disillusion follows hope, fear follows happiness, anxiety merges with anger, and solidarity faces rage. Emotions become the political glue that sticks space and bodies with the particular rhythms of protest.
Through movement we speak, through gestures we claim, through shouting and singing we protest: the limits between matter and discourse disappear, and matter is an already political discourse at the same time that disembodied discourse proves to be a chimera. Through songs, movement and touch, through sharing public space, protest creates solidarity, a sense of collectivity that intensifies the feeling of belonging to an ‹us› that is politically defined and differs from those ‹them› who do not share neither our timespace nor our emoscape, whose political definition and practice is ‹other›. In consequence, protests are not moments of disruption but moments of intensification and resonance. Protests are creative and critical moments of politically effective practice. Indeed, they are ‹polyrhythmic› (Lefebvre, 2013), and combine different motions and tempos formed in a long-lasting process. They also combine individual feelings and social emotions, favour the circulation of affects (Ahmed, 2015), intensify collectivity and group belonging and resonate in and through bodies that in protest also become bodyscapes.
Barcelona, 29th September 2018
Among the most visual and intense protests that have been held in Barcelona we can find the Holi. Even the fantastic HBO series «Years and Years» depicts some images of it. On 29h of September 2018, almost one year after the referendum on Catalonia’s independence held on 1st October 2017, there was a demonstration to support the Spanish police that opposed the referendum and violently repressed it. As commented, that referendum was considered illegal by some – as it was unconstitutional and banned by the Spanish Government – and a legitimate claim and right by others. Arran, a group of pro-independence young activists, organized a Holi Festival to oppose the homage to the police2. After claiming «we neither forget nor forgive October 1st» (a common motto in radical pro-Independence demonstrations to refer to the violent repression of the 2017 referendum), they affirmed: «we cannot allow the demonstration of the police forces to pay homage to police violence on October 1st. Let’s cover them in paint».3
Source: https://www.naciodigital.cat/noticia/162860/arran/tenyira/colors/manifestacio/homenatge/policies/1-o (retrieved 30th October 2018)
Arran activists, other members of the Catalan pro-independence left (EI) and people who were against police repression joined a march whose aim was to stop the police commemorative march. In order to do so, they confronted the Catalan police forces (mossos d’esquadra) who tried to stop them from meeting the Spanish police march. Protesters and mossos d’esquadra ended up covered in a colourful cloud of dust.
(retrieved 8 November 2018)
In the Holi festival, the generative and political capacities of bodies were, as in other demonstrations, both a condition and an outcome. Unable to see, participants became allies and companions: the feeling of not being alone made them strong, according to their own words. During the Holi festival, thousands of bodies became one colourful body made up of human and nonhuman matter. We knew that thousands of human bodies were there confronting each other; we could not see them, but we could feel them. Joy and fear, success and uncertainty, danger, solidarity, vulnerability, strength, and other emotions affected every-body and were also affected by all the participants. Everything was political there: the organisation, the action, the motivation, and the clash between marchers and police; the (lack of) senses, the clothes and the extra clothes that participants had to take with them in order to change their clothes after the action to difficult police identification as a participant. Using a festive event (Holi) as a political strategy (subverting its significance) is a common tactic of these groups. At the Holi festival, their bodies clearly stated that they are «protest bodies» (Enguix 2012a; 2019), «being protest in and with» the protest, merging with one another in a colourful mess that turned the usual methods of demonstrating and confronting police upside down. At Holi, bodies became protest-bodies and not just a support for/of protest. The materiality of our flesh (skin, nails, veins, organs, hair, hands, brain, etc.), opened up possibilities of transformation through complex intersections, articulations and meanings that include space, ritual, feast, emotions, rhythms, intensities, resonances and all kinds of affects. The possibility of multiple gendered bodies becoming through time and context may open the way for a more effective and affective embodied politics because, after all, «we are part of the world we seek to understand» (Barad, 2003: 828). Marchers against the police were students, sons and daughters, own pets, they have friends and partners, they live different and multiple experiences. None of these experiences taken in isolation explains what they are capable of or the polyphonic rhythms they enact.
Barcelona, 14th October 2019
The judicial sentence after the trial held in the Spanish supreme Court to the pro-independence leaders is just about to be public. Tsunami Democràtic, following some previous mobilisations held by Hong Kong protesters against their government, convokes people to occupy Barcelona Airport.
Photo: Albert Garcia
Source: https://elpais.com/ccaa/2019/10/14/catalunya/1571042788_418131.html (retrieved 20th April 2020).
Many people leave Barcelona in different columns, heading on foot towards the airport, about 13 kilometres away from the city. Others take the metro, buses, and cars. Through QR codes and Tsunami’s telegram account, they have provided protesters with boarding passes, in order to have access to the premises. The occupation of the airport lasted all day: flights were cancelled, communications stopped; in some parts of the city, people are still walking. Police charges against protesters. Protesters sing Els Segadors, the Catalan anthem. It is the first time that something like this happens in the country. All previous protests had been public demonstrations, affecting the traffic, and partial or general strikes: this is different because of size, but particularly because of secrecy and immediacy. Nobody, except for the anonymous organisers, knew that this was going to happen. Thousands of angry people assembled for this action. They were also sad about the sentence, proud to be Catalan, and united against a perceived injustice.
There were students, workers, and professionals. There were young people and old people, men and women, teenagers, children. There were people situated on the political left, people more on the right. The sense of belonging, of being Catalan, was intensified through mottos («streets will always be ours»), flags, and the national anthem, and resonated in and through all the bodies. As other protests organised by ANC and Omnium, this action of Tsunami Democràtic assembled civil society: politicians made declarations, some of them were present, but it was a people’s action, with multiple rhythms that occupied different public space and different times through Barcelona city streets, the roads to the airport, buses, metro, the entrance to the airport, and the hall.
Other protests along that week were creative, innovative and surprising. Some of them appeared almost spontaneously: others were carefully prepared. There are two actions that I think are particularly expressive of the spirit of those protests: one was held on 16th October and the other was held on 18th October. Both have in common the use of everyday elements that are resignified and turned into political tools, making explicit their multiple rhythms and a wish to use non-violent strategies for protest.
Barcelona, 16th and 18th October 2019 On 16th October 2019,
CDR used social media to call citizenship to assemble in the city centre; they asked people to bring rolls of toilet paper.
Source: https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20191016/471029776856/manifestantes-barcelona-papel-higienico-protestas.html (retrieved 15 April 2020).
With this protest, organisers and people who attended it wanted to make explicit and visible their wish to clean all ‹dirt› by non-violent means, expressed through a hands-up position, as we can see in the photograph. Anger against the sentence had acted as an activator of protest but during this action anger turned into a festive and celebratory festival of protest. After singing Els Segadors, people threw the paper up, as if they were attending a party. This was celebration of nation through pain (for the sentence) and joy (to be many, to share protest and share belonging). As this post makes clear, in this protest resonated all the previous protests, the 1st October referendum and police violence.
Text: Call. To oppose repression and police violence we make this call for today 16/10: Gran Via-Marina (place) 19 h. There can’t be any aggression without a response. We have a lot of shit to clean. Bring your toilet paper.
Source: https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20191016/471029776856/manifestantes-barcelona-papel-higienico-protestas.html (retrieved 15 April 2020).
This action’s motto was «Que se’n vagin» («We want then out»). They also asked for Buch’s (the internal affairs counsellor in Catalonia) resignation. The hashtag for the protest illustrates its rhythm: #RevoltaPopular (popular revolt). As all demonstrations, this was happening in a particular space at a particular time. In this case, they were previously announced (with hours’ notice). However, the cry «Streets will always be ours» (els carrers seran sempre nostres) had drawn the path and rhythm of protests. During the week between 14th and 20th October there were actions and mobilisations all over the city of Barcelona. Some of them were spontaneous; some of them became violent; some of them took place at a particular timespace; they all proved that the everyday use of public space, understood as a neutral political surface, was over if it had ever existed.
On 18th October 2019, the Sagrada Familia, probably Barcelona’s most famous monument, had to close its doors to tourist visits. Was there an attack by pro-independence crowds? No. Was there a demonstration at its entrance? No. There was a «picnic for the republic». Picnic for the Republic is an organisation that promoted public picnics politically shaped in different parts of the city. Groups of people sat on the road, sometimes with their mantelpiece, their drinks and food, and their lively talk, to stop traffic, enact a different rhythm, and protest. That day they sang and shouted against the sentence while sitting in front of Sagrada Familia, blocking the access to the church.
Source: https://www.elnacional.cat/es/politica/sentada-picnic-republica-sagrada-familia-vaga_431885_102.html (retrieved 20 April 2020).
The protest was festive and peaceful, according to the information published by all media. Some protesters held pictures of the king of Spain upside down; others held banners. Claiming and singing for independence, against the sentence and for a republic, was here achieved through ordinary events (drinking, talking, and eating) and attitudes. All the elements were assembled in a particular way, with a particular rhythm and significance: food and drink were not just food; the air was not just air; the monument had radically changed, now it was not an original cathedral designed by Gaudi, now it was the monument that for one day since it admits tour guides, had to close its doors (this is how media were talking about this event). An everyday action – eating and drinking – became radically political thanks to the peculiar relation established between all its components (human and non human) and the context.
Rhythms, Intensities and Resonances
People at work, people at home, some people stopping trains, other people stopping the traffic between Catalonia and France in the highway, the airport occupied, picnics for the republic, people playing basket as a means of protest in broad avenues in Barcelona, the organisation of walking columns of protest that after 4 or 5 days of walking would reach Barcelona from other places in Catalonia, tractors on country roads, police raids, helicopters overflying the city center 24 hours a day, riots in the city centre in the so-called battle of Urquinaona, burning containers, attacks to police, attacks from police, children singing the anthem, old men and women hand on hand with their yellow ribbons on their flaps… all this was happening without notice, very quickly and sometimes at the same time in different parts of the city or within seconds of difference in the same place. A protest could start as a peaceful and non-violent demonstration and turn into a riot in minutes. What is the rhythm then?
Many of the protests now held in Catalonia are different from previous protests. These are only some examples: three-day festive and protest marches starting in different spots in Catalonia to reach Barcelona at the same time and day; people lodging marchers overnight and town halls turning sports halls into hostels; using liquid soap in Montjuic’s fountains to protest police; throwing toilet paper in front of the Delegation of Spanish Government in Barcelona; organizing sportive meetings for the republic and so on. These are just some of the imaginative and new formulas used. No one knows who CDR are, who Tsunami Democràtic are or who Picnic for the Republic are. They say «we are the people». People, future, and streets are fundamental concepts in structuring current protests in Catalonia.
However, as I stated, according to data from the survey held in October 2019 by the Institute for Social and Political Sciences only 11% of Catalonia’s population really think that Catalonia will become independent. Most actions are vehicled through positive emotions (solidarity, joy, hope) to produce emotional contagion and mobilisation. If we confront the data on mobilisations with the data from the survey, it is not only rational politics what is at stake here. Facts and hopes, present and future, justice and freedom are conceived as both real and ideal. Mobilisations hold together bodies, times (real and virtual, present, past and future) and spaces (geographical, emotional and virtual); they make bodies react and also activate affects, emotions, and ideologies. Past, present and future, facts and hopes resonate through our bodies and are intensified by music and mottos, by flags, yellow ribbons, white hands and other symbols. Apart from spontaneously signing Els Segadors, Catalonia’s national anthem, participants in mass events usually sing l’Estaca, an old Catalan song dated back in 1968 that Lluis Llach composed to confront Franco’s dictatorship and to glorify union and solidarity. Once this song was a metaphorical symbol of anti-Francoist fight: «L’estaca» means «the Stick», a metaphor of a dictatorial State to be destroyed. Now, l’Estaca means a state of affairs, the connection between the place and time we once lived and our current times. Music and cries, riots and picnics, streets and fire, are ‘already political’ elements. All of them are and were part of the multiple rhythms of Barcelona and of the world we live in.
1 Participation: 43,03%. Yes: 90,18%; No 7,83%; Blank vote 1,8% (Source: https://www.ccma.cat/324/els-resultats-del-referendum-de-l-1-o/ retrieved 20 April 2020). 2 A Holi festival is a Hindu festival of religious origin that takes place in springtime and now has become a festival of colours and love. 3 All translations are mine.
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