Improvisational Practices in the Production of the Precarious Common Spaces on the Periphery of Europe

Gigi Argyropoulou


This article discusses improvisational cultural practices in relation to sedimented processes and other modes of production. During the economic crisis on Europe’s south edge, extreme neoliberal policies experimented with new modes of social engineering. Yet, even in the face of such coercive systems, emergent cultural practices were improvising, testing their own radical alternatives, and producing nomadic, ephemeral, and impromptu practices inside and outside of social orders. Focusing on a seemingly grey period in the history of a theatre occupation in Athens during the years of the economic crisis, this article examines a series of improvisational practices that emerged in a constant fragile negotiation between agents, structures, social orders, and impossibilities.

Through this specific reading of an emergent cultural operation, this article seeks to explore how practices of improvisation can help us rethink and actively produce alternative structures and forms of organization, and further, how practices of improvisation can function as a form of social production in relation to other productions of the same moment.

The discussion of these precarious improvisational structures may uncover a modus operandi for rethinking the cultural constellation as a continuously ever-changing system. Improvisational tactics emerge as moments of self-institution that produce ephemerally alternative social imaginaries that might allow us to rethink improvisation’s potential in the current landscape.

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Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation is generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (through both its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives and Aid to Scholarly Journals programs) and by the University of Guelph Library.
ISSN: 1712-0624