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Infrastructures of Caring Citizenship 

Citizen-led welfare initiatives in crisis-ridden Athens, Greece

PhD Thesis

The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL


This thesis presents an ethnographic and practice-based investigation on Infrastructures of Caring Citizenship (ICCs). The term is coined in this same research work and elaborated through a situated study of four specific instances located in Athens, Greece, during the austerity regime imposed in the country (2010-2018) in the wake of the international banking crash of 2008. Broadly, it refers to self-organised initiatives of provision of welfare and social protection, as well as of deliberative struggle against processes of dispossession of the means of subsistence and of rights in urban contexts in crisis. Crisis in this thesis defines the context but also constitutes a conceptual site for interrogation in itself. For this endeavour, four dimensions are distinguished, namely the imaginary, the empirical-experiential, the subjective and the critical-insurgent. The concepts of care, citizenship and infrastructure, which I interrelate, are used as a particular lens to look at contemporary crises, as well for the examination of the four ICCs that comprise the field of this thesis. This two-level theoretical framework articulates my construction – and de-construction – of “Athens-in-crisis”, which is treated as a backdrop as much as a medium of many of the transformations that take place in the city during this period, including the emergence of the ICCs.

By means of an “Expanded Ethnography” approach, which combines ethnographic fieldwork with creative collaborative-based exercises, I describe how ICCs enact a citizen-led response to The Crisis and the way it has been managed by established institutions – state and non-governmental alike –, by which they reconfigure and reimagine the sectors of social reproduction in which they operate. I argue that there are aspects concerning the forms of organising, of doing politics, of articulating collective bonds and representations, and of producing space, that would be contributing to a radical imagination of care linked to the enactment of citizenship with potential implications for urban change beyond crisis. 

This research comprises the following projects:
Frontida: Towards a radical imagination of collective care
Nobody´s Place / Nowhere´s Map
Generative Device of Contemporary Futures
The ICCs Video Archive
The ICCs Map


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