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Athens as logo, habitat and gym: City branding, makeover politics and Athenians in-deed

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This article focuses on the atenistas, an Athenian citizens’ group formed in the fall of 2010 at the outset of the Greek debt crisis. The atenistas’ anti-political stance soon revealed itself to be an anti-left position, amenable to the emerging neo-liberal ethics of austerity and the collapse of the post-dictatorship ideologically-oriented party system. Based on ethnographic consideration of the group’s programmatic statements and interventions in public spaces, I parse key features of their ‘actions’ (draseis) online and off (ephemerality, theatricality, repetitiveness, didacticism, nomadism) in connection to new media participatory culture (flash mobs, social media visuality, networked affect, makeover reality television) and contemporary urban practices and processes (city rebranding, gentrification, urban gardening, lifestyle sports, occupy social movements). I highlight the salience of the environment, aesthetics and the everyday lifeworld to the group’s bid to remake the image of Athens (as logo, habitat and gym) and, thus, reformulate civic action as an activism without politics, recasting traditionally public functions as matters of individual responsibility.
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Keywords: Athens; aestheticization of politics; citizenship; gentrification; participatory culture; post-politics; social media; urban citizens’ movements

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2019

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  • The Journal of Greek Media & Culture is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that aims to provide a platform for debate and exploration of a wide range of manifestations of media and culture in and about Greece. The journal adopts a broad and inclusive approach to media and culture with reference to film, photography, literature, the visual arts, music, theatre, performance, as well as all forms of electronic media and expressions of popular culture. While providing a forum for the close analysis of cultural formations specific to Greece, JGMC aims to engage with broader methodological and theoretical debates, and situate the Greek case in global, diasporic and transnational contexts.
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