Occupation as refrain: territory and beyond in Occupy London

Matthews, Jamie. 2018. Occupation as refrain: territory and beyond in Occupy London. Social Movement Studies, 17(2), pp. 127-143. ISSN 1474-2837 [Article]

No full text available
[img] Text
Occupation as refrain territory and beyond in Occupy London-3.pdf - Published Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only

Download (1MB)

Abstract or Description

Emerging with the wider ‘movements of the squares’ of 2011, Occupy London was de ned by occupation, and by participants’negotiation of what occupation meant. Its forms and meanings changed as London’s Occupiers moved between occupied sites, through uprootings by eviction, and into post-eviction attempts to extend Occupy’s territorial politics without the camps. This paper builds on three years of ethnography to consider occupation as an unfolding process, using Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the ‘refrain’. This describes territory in three ‘moments’: the marking of a fragile centre; the stabilization of a bounded ‘home’; and the breaching of boundaries, extending in progressive directions. This rubric is used to analyze London’s occupations, and their de ning tension, between an expansive desire to ‘Occupy Everywhere’ – connecting to the wider ‘99 percent’ – and the tendency to become embedded in the protest camp ‘home’. The features of ‘home’ are analyzed using Foucault’s concept of ‘heterotopia’, highlighting an alterity with ambivalent consequences for Occupy’s project. The paper argues that despite a desire to ‘deterritorialize’ occupation, Occupy London stalled in the moment of ‘home’, a consequence of the camp’s status as the ‘common ground’ of an often disparate movement, and the reduction of productive capacities characterizing Occupy’s terminal downswing.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


9 January 2018Accepted
23 January 2018Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 Jul 2018 15:54

Last Modified:

04 Aug 2022 14:00

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)