Landscapes of Emergency

Posted on 15 July 2013 by


Landscapes of Emergency is the title of a new short documentary film by Ross Domoney, produced by a Sussex Anthropology project on Public Order in Athens that has just been released. It provides a look at securitization, the imposition of a state of emergency on Greece in the wake of various efforts to control dissent and impose order on marginalized classes, which has gained steam with the imposition of severe austerity measures under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. The city itself becomes one of these landscapes of emergency.

In the film we are informed of the production of special legislation aimed at combating public unrest, with one speaker attesting to the  end of liberal democracy, or as she puts it, the “authoritarian mutation of bourgeois democracy” which shows that “this system is reaching its historical limits”. Part of that process involves the reconfiguration of state repression,  and the production of new concepts and new structures: law-breaking becomes “anomy,” and the state claims to be engaging in a “war against criminality”. Criminality itself is deployed as a term that masks the fact of multiple forms of resistance and disobedience.

“Athens seems like a militarized city,” says one of the speakers in the film. Indeed, in Greece as in most Western states, and especially the U.S., the police have become militarized in uniform, equipment, tactics, and in their violence against civilians.

We are also informed in this film about legal amendments as an adaptation to a financial crisis framework. Not willing to pay for the “carrot,” especially under pressure from international financial institutions, the Greek state is not playing any more “carrot and stick” games. It is just stick.

To further justify and perpetuate itself as a (re)new(ed) form of militarized power, the state has been “fabricating problems in order for them to be solved”–and for every “problem” there must be a “solution,” which can be produced by “intervention”. Another speaker explains that “the message” of every state “solution” is one that “bears more meaning than the procedure itself”–thus the campaign against squatters is a message of disciplining and control.

For more, visit the website of The City at a Time of Crisis: Tracing and researching crisis-ridden urban public spaces in Athens, Greece.