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"This is their resistance"—Natalie Hanman reviews Springtime for the Guardian

Kaitlin Staudt17 May 2011

Natalie Hanman reviews Springtime for the Guardian. Suggesting that the narrative of the November 2010  student protests was overtaken by voices of the establishment, she points to Springtime and openDemocracy's Fight Back! as books that focus on what the actual "lived reality of what was happening." Hanman notes that both books reveal "the protests to be not mindless, but mindful; a considered rebellion against the global neoliberal financial deal that has been struck.a considered rebellion against the global neoliberal financial deal that has been struck."

Echoing Springtime's declaration that the book is "a chronicle, but not just a chronicle. It is the formulation of an experience ... to develop alternatives that challenge the priorities of capitalist society," Hanman focuses on the links of solidarity among the voices presented.

One of the ways in which Springtime does this is through the inclusion of "flashbacks" - texts from the past, interspersed with accounts from the present - which give crucial political and theoretical context to events that are usually presented as devoid of history, and remind readers of the systemic nature of the inequalities being resisted ...

It's the new voices (such as Leila Basmoudi, Elisa Albanesi) who really impress. The range and diversity in many of these pages, the fresh perspectives on recurring themes (the occupation of space, Book Blocs, police brutality, why knowledge for knowledge's sake matters, why EMA students need EMA, why the violence of state power is more shocking than a smashed TopShop window) are compelling. Springtime is stronger on this because it is both regional and global, revealing in fascinating account after account the existence and causes of (mainly) student rebellions from Pisa to Puerto Rico, about which most people know little. For the power of these largely leaderless and organic protests lies in the fact that there are so many of them in different locations but they have been formed for related reasons ...

No doubt these interventions will be dismissed by many as breathless, not grown-up enough, out of touch with reality. But what a reality, forged while we looked the other way. And what a time to be opening your eyes to it, what a time to be young, in spirit if not in years. Despite the constrained choices facing young people today, of unemployment or precarious employment, of crippling fees for the freedom to be educated—this is their resistance, and a compelling alternative.

Visit the Guardian to read the review in full.

Visit openDemocracy to download Fight Back! 

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