About Anders Westerström
Since the beginning of my academic journey, I have been interested in the social and economic politics of urban spaces, as seen in the dynamics of gentrification, filtering and eco-activism. Throughout my work I have been exploring various critical approaches. In my current project, for example, I have looked at post-Fordist capitalism as a phenomenon characterized by globalization, increasing division of labour, and a rise of speculative capitalist investment patterns; entrepreneurial urbanism, as the process where cities compete with each other to attract streams of investments, tourists, mega-events and labour-power of the right quality; as well as new social movements that emerged in the crisis of Fordism, and came to reshape the landscape of activism and social change. I have also been applying Stuart Hall’s notion of conjuncture, reading it as being related to the periodic movements of capitalism and its superstructures, but also adopting Gramsci’s view of it as a window of political opportunity and social change.
Yet the present conjuncture of hegemonic coercive neoliberalism has a lot of contradictory forces. The political project of the worker-controlled Fordist welfare state is not what is once was, and social movements constantly find their agendas subsumed by neoliberal capitalism. What are the alternatives to this horizon of capitalist crisis and repressive political forces? If there are alternatives, I believe that these must be studied critically: their role in reproducing ideology must be inquired as well as their emancipatory potentials. In my project I therefore intend to add new critical perspectives to these processes. I partly focus on the so-called Transition movement, a movement associated with prefigurative ideas and practices about transition from fossil dependence here and now. The prefigurative concept is about trying to create the alternative the movement imagines, e.g. through lifestyle change or direct-democratic practices. In Gothenburg, “the sharing capital of Sweden”, these movements have had quite a lot of influence and several activists have been employed to facilitate and coordinate sharing initiatives in the city. While initiatives like makerspaces and urban farms risk becoming pioneer “green gentrifiers” to brand re-development areas as cool, creative and sustainable, they might also make the city more inclusive; encouraging citizens to collaborate, repair, or share all thinkable resources and can create new solidarities and enable resources for disadvantaged groups.