Translated by Maribel Casas-Cortés and Sebastian Cobarrubias / Notas Rojas Collective Chapel Hill
Research within and by movements is useful to break the invisible boundaries made by militant groups and exclusionary identities, as well as to question the inertia attached to the voluntarist activism based without a project nor self‑reflection. However, we should go beyond. We should know how to always listen and test the emergent social uneasiness and potentialities, developing the capacity to transform the current atomization process into conjunctions and isolation in collective potency.
It is important to recognize that, currently, many participatory research methodologies tend to incorporate themselves into the institutional matrix with the purpose of facilitating the governability of disaffected societies before a representative democracy. The weakness and benevolence of certain “participatory” dynamics undertaken by institutions are well known. We cannot forget that “participatory interventions” have a recognized niche in the academia already, with the risks that this entails.
From the perspective of an “offensive” reconstruction of antagonist dynamics, we face the challenge of thinking both research and organizing together, in the context of great mobility and instability. We should avoid thinking through these two issues separately. We need to push the experience of militant research and participation beyond that point. For us, the need to link “becoming militant researchers” to different devices of collective aggregation and organization, constitutes a central priority. In many instances, militant and participatory research are able to situate an issue (explore and address a problem in complex ways). They are also able to find things drawing a cartography of the territory, webbing together links between heterogeneous subjects and knowledges. However, in many instances, they are unable to build or insert themselves in plans of political action that are more conscious and ambitious.
We still trust in the ability of political subjectivities in movement to build large and potent collective machines. However, we believe that this will not happen if these research‑participatory dynamics are not combined with organizing devices that “bite into” the real. At the same time, we have confirmed that the potential of the movement cannot be other than the capacity to chain the singular knowledges of the multitude and make them work like a vectoralized war machine. A war machine should work in a “centralized” fashion when the conflict breaks out, tensing itself. Immediately after, the machine is opened and is no longer tensed, in order to remake and propagate itself in a viric and porous fashion. These machines should be able to build processes of empowerment from below, winning concrete battles, transforming the social problems we are facing. If the action‑research processes are not opened to broader communities and are not thought and constructed in concert with political projects of an “accumulative” and strategic dimension, they will not achieve the qualitative jump that we need.
Cartography and war machine are for us two magic–concepts in order to understand the limitations that we have referred to in regards to militant research. These concepts are useful to think and attack these problems at one and the same time. Cartography understood as the capacity by movements to investigate and map the real: craft‑work to detect and make the appearance of interferences in the societies of ‘consensus’ resonate. Cartography understood as an abstract prototype for the analysis of a problem in map form, diagramming blueprints of potential composition/assemblage. They are open maps for orientation, “connectable in all of its dimensions; detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification”
War machine understood as organizing‑or‑assemblage processes capable of transforming points into vectors: “like a lineal disposition constituted by lines of flight. In this sense, the war machine does not have war as its objective, its objective is linked to a very unique space, the smooth space that it itself constitutes, occupies and propagates”, having in mind that “a war machine can be more revolutionary or artistic than military”. Therefore, it is about deciphering those vectors of subjectification that articulate the transformation of the real, many times in odd ways for the classical militant’s gaze. We would like to insist that it is not about interpreting to organize, but about detecting those points able to compose a common plane, a collective flight.
To identify the hot spots of contemporary conflict, its dynamics and actors, its movement and those trajectories that go from temporary uneasiness to the desire of building an alternative to one’s own situation.
To think codes that articulate communication among the subjects implicated in a given issue, to learn from them and to experiment with communicative devices able to generate a new field of feeling and common reference.
To test those statements that would allow naming a given situation, in order to confirm its capacity of influence. Take on, then, the need to prefigure new, mobile and situational statements. The production of new names and concepts is not the task of a militant, but it will always be a collective and choral exercise of enunciation.
To introduce the ephemeral as a variable that accompanies every organizing process. From that point on, doubt and experimentation will become constituent elements of all militant practice.
To generate groups able to transform themselves through constant recombination in interactions with “others”, understanding the outside as an asset and a singularity to be desired and appropriated
To transform militancy into a research process that surveys the passions, affects, humors, pathologies, fantasies, stories and becomings of social figures. In this way, the figure of the militant, as both researcher and nomad, looses all exteriority and is criss‑crossed, through and over, by the dynamics of the situation which s/he inhabits, its crises, doubts and recompositions. This same figure then, being able to map excesses, pushing them beyond and composing them; linking statements, desires, and bodies. Transforming militant groups in analyzers and creative intercessors of social desires and statements.
To rethink the liaison with organization, surpassing the asphyxiating dichotomy between verticality and horizontality, understanding the important relationship between micro and macro politics, composing high co‑efficients of transversality.
To assume a non‑traumatic relationship with power, with a vocation for providing the multitude with a level of strength capable of intervening in and altering current social designs. Map opportunities; making diagrams and sustaining a new, productive and rebel institutionality of the movement.
To think organization from a composite perspective that takes both molar and molecular dimensions into consideration. To experiment with a creative combination between tension and distension, between enunciative strength and tacit silence, between intervention in the public sphere and subterranean construction.
To think the combustion of cultural, artistic, analytical, political and desiring practices in complex terms.
To yearn for and put into action experiments full of audacity, testing the hypothesis that are being developed, verifying the doses of strength and intelligence that are able to articulate both networks and the set of competencies or skills with which we act.
To situate the role of militancy beyond research, for example, the articulation of devices able to formulate common experiences between extremely singular realities. This “obsession” for the common puts the relationship between communication and organizing at the center. Communicating potentially allied experiences is not enough to build organization, but it becomes its necessary condition.
What are the new social subjects inhabiting the precarization of existence? How to build organizing mechanisms out of a precarious social composition for the ‘coming together’ of precarious figures? What is the role of knowledge and research in the success of self‑organizing processes by the new figures of precarity?
Departing from a feminist analysis and from the lived transformations of the metropolis, PAD has gone beyond any reductionist approach to precarity. Instead of constituting an exclusively labor‑based phenomenon, it is about rethinking the intersections between different social stratifications (class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and identity, educational background, etc.) and how they constitute the new borders of the precarization of existence. They have been searching for common names and languages, links and strategies to subvert the corporation‑city. Some of the “fundamental tools being used are: the drift, as a device to disconnect the crazed and routinized space‑times, of the totally mobilized corporation‑city and its ‘population’ (trips to work, shopping, daily itineraries in public transport) and as a path to rediscovery, with new eyes, common eyes, of the circuits of precarity; the workshop, as a place for sharing and deepening these visions; and the assemblies, as a space for self‑reflection, identification of problems and formulation of work and action hypotheses”. Their numerous talks and public presentations, which speak to many European realities of [the] movement, have become an important reference for knowledge in first person about the process of producing a precarious existence. After a first phase of research that produced a DVD and a book, they are inaugurating now a new experiment: Todasacien: Agencia de Asuntos Precarios. This is a physical space that allows the “virtuous combination of consultancies, workshops and encounters among women to invent mechanisms of grassroots mutualism and the development of a precarious instinct”, articulating a collective response to the phenomenon of precarity.
Once the incapacity of the classical union model to address temporary and flexible workers had been tested and proven, the next task then was to begin with an initial attempt of getting closer to – analyzing and understanding – the forms of social uneasiness, emotive tonalities and modes of inhabiting that fragmented territory where the construction of a common looks impossible.
Entránsito has promoted spaces of contagious encounter between precarious people – both native‑born and migrants –, in order to rethink the strategy of defining new collective rights that are able to attack the current emptying of the notion of citizenship we live with nowadays. Redefinitions of citizenship for Entránsito include struggling for guarantees to a social salary and freedom of movement for everybody. Together with other social networks they have coordinated the research project Otra Málaga [Another Málaga] (“precarity, immigration and financial speculation in the territory we inhabit”). The results have produced a different map of Málaga’s territory, a book of interviews and a DVD about the reality of social conflicts and movements in the province of Málaga. Another important project of this collective is constructing public spaces for movement in Southern Europe. The collective has also help to put together (together with other realities of the territory) the successful event of EuroMayDaySur (the May 1st celebration/protest for precarious people), and to build the network called Precari@s en Movimiento, connecting collectives in Málaga, Sevilla, Granada, Jerez y Córdoba.
At the same time, the ODS proposes to research and build a narrative in first person about this subjectivity that is still under construction which we call the precariat. The co‑research project by ODS tries to expand the reflection about current living conditions experienced all of us as precarious people, and to search for forms of grassroots empowerment. Workshops, debates, surveys and video‑analysis experiments are nurturing the rich collective process underway called MayDaySur. In this way, the ODS is building a process of reflection with activists working against precarity and trying to adjust the dual tasks of creating forces of social composition with the services and roles of the consultancy office.
B. Maps of territory, tools of social movement articulation and enunciation
How to transform a map into a process of re‑signifying a territory and re‑articulating social movements? How to name a territory undergoing permanent transformation? How to situate new mechanisms of power, conflicts and emergent social subjects in a fragmented and complex territory?
The map was collectively constructed, and one of the important aspects of this process was it ability to propagate and stimulate a creative and extensive campaign that was able to articulate diverse sensibilities. The goal was to boycott the event and its economic, urbanistic, speculative, as well as symbolic deployment. Its important to mention that a set of actions, mobilizations and communication devices (such as forumatón) sustained and invigorated the cartographic work. The map contributed – in an unmeasurable and invaluable way – to the failure of the Forum’s marketing control team as well as its legitimacy and attendance.
Side B attempted to show the development, in recent years, of social spaces and events that have allowed the diffuse creation of movement networks that never existed before. It also tried to present concepts, images and texts that have somehow helped constitute the network of subjectivities participating, in different ways, in Indymedia Estrecho.
The somewhat chaotic feeling of this cartography is due to the impossibility of showing a territory undergoing permanent transformation in a coherent and consistent fashion. This territory has been convulsed by intense social dynamics and criss‑crossed by flows and networks of high complexity. This cartography has allowed a complete re‑definition of this geographic area. It has also contributed immensely to the development and consolidation of the Indymedia Estrecho project, providing visual images for the main goal of that project: disobeying borders in order to build an “Other‑territory”.
These are some of the experiences that we consider important at the intersections between militancy and research. They are practices that are difficult to classify and characterized by their dynamism. Each one of them continues its path, recomposing/recombining itself with the paths of the movement and generating, luckily, effects and resonances that exceed the initial goals of their authors.
 For further development of this problematic, see the collective publication: Marta Malo de Molina (ed.) Nociones comunes. Experiencias y ensayos entre investigación y militancia, Traficantes de sueños, Madrid, 2004, http://www.sindominio.net/traficantes/editorial/nociones_comunes.htm; for the English translation of the first part of the books’ introduction Common notions, part 1: workers‑inquiry, co‑research, consciousness‑raising see http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/0406/malo/en; furthermore the article by Marisa Pérez Colina, Raúl Sánchez Cedillo, Marta Malo de Molina y Amador Fernández‑Savater, Ingredientes de una onda global, en Desacuerdos, nº 2, Macba/Arteleku/Unia Arte y Pensamiento, Barcelona, 2005, http://www.estrecho.indymedia.org/newswire/display/17603/index.php
 Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Mil mesetas. Capitalismo y esquizofrenia, Pretextos, Valencia, 1994. [Available in English as A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 1987. Quote from page 12 of the English version]
 Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Conversaciones. 1972‑1990, Pretextos, Valencia, 1999.
 Precarias a la Deriva, A la deriva. Por los circuitos de la precariedad femenina, Traficantes de sueños, Madrid, 2004, http://www.sindominio.net/traficantes/editorial/precariasaladerivapdf.htm. [Portions of this book are available in English at Precarias a la Deriva’s website: http://sindominio.net/karakola/precarias.htm]