The prefigurative politics of social movements and their processual production of space: The case of the indignados movement

Viviana Asara*, Giorgos Kallis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper investigates how the prefiguration of an alternative future by social movements produces new space through a processual dynamic. A case study of the Indignados movement in Barcelona shows how mobilizations evolved from symbolizing an alternative future in the square to constructing alternatives in the city in the post-encampment period. In the alternative projects forged during the post-square period, activists re-appropriated urban spaces and transformed them, wanting to live differently and to produce a radically different city, now. We conceptualize these new spaces as ‘prefigurative territories’, integrating the seemingly divergent anarchist-inspired theory of prefiguration with Lefebvre’s Marxist theory of space production. This integration helps to capture how participants strategized the type of evolution of the movement after the square as well as the type of space being produced. While the square’s encampment was a détournement of a capitalist space with limited spatial creativeness, in post-square counter-spaces the prefiguration of a different society takes an offensive stance, setting concrete objectives to counter-plan the state’s organization of space. Counter-spaces arise through a dialectical movement that preserves the first two dimensions of prefiguration, a consistency between means and ends and a proleptic foretaste of the future society, that realize and become the third dimension of created alternatives. This dialectical movement unfolds through three processes: experimentation, demonstration, and proliferation through ‘open prefiguration’. Prefigurative territories, we argue, signal strategic horizons, but members struggle with conflicts when opening up.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2022


  • 15-M
  • garden
  • Indignados
  • Lefebvre
  • movement of the squares
  • prefiguration
  • prefigurative politics
  • social centre
  • Social movement
  • space production
  • territory


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