When the Common Ground Seems Shattered: From Self-Precarisation to Partial Relationality in kleines postfordistisches Drama and Precarias a la Deriva

Charalambides, Sarah. 2020. When the Common Ground Seems Shattered: From Self-Precarisation to Partial Relationality in kleines postfordistisches Drama and Precarias a la Deriva. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

It is argued that in Western post-industrial economies struggles over common labour conditions are pre-empted by the internalisation of a highly individualised logic. Problematising strong desires for freedom, autonomy and self-determination in the context of cultural production, my PhD proposes possibilities for critical agency and collective resistance under the current dynamics of governmental precarisation in Western Europe. First, I examine how the notion of self-precarisation is debated and negotiated through the artistic practice of the Berlin-based group kleinespostfordistisches Drama. While narrating the everyday lived experiences of cultural producers who “freely” choose insecure living and working conditions, their videoproject Kamera Läuft! (2004) explores the potential for a critical reformation of precarious subjectivity. Secondly, I extend the scope of issues around exploitative labour in the early 2000s by taking a more intersectional approach to the critique of precarity. In doing so I turn to the activist research of the Madrid-based feminist collective Precarias a la Deriva. While bringing together antagonisms against shared yet distinct forms of feminisation among women working in the Spanish reproductive labour market, they develop a self-consciously enacted strategy for creating new socio-political alliances between stratified precarious subjectivities. Drawing upon the theoretical works of Isabell Lorey, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and Donna Haraway, I reflect on the ways in which my two case studies challenge identitarian understandings of the individual “I” and the collective “we”. Through methods of militant research and consciousness-raising, both practices refresh the epistemologically, ethically and politically necessary critical encounter between the self and other(s). Ultimately my research demonstrates that it is through the articulation of partial relationality that self-precarisation can be transformed into an instrument of resistance to dominant and internalised discourses and practices of governance, enabling the imagination and production of different politics, lives and subjectivities in 21st century capitalism.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



self-precarisation, partial relationality, cultural production, care work, Western European precarity discourse, militant research, consciousness-raising, commonality across difference

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


31 December 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

17 Jun 2021 12:20

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 15:52



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