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Fragmentations and boundary-making among bike activists in Belgrade

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Currently, we witness the emergence of new forms of urban activism that increasingly question established political and economic power structures by claiming the citizens’ ‘right to the city’. Taking place in cities around the world, this development can also be found in Serbia’s capital Belgrade where a significant number of urban activist groups have been created during the last five years.

Based on an ethnographic research on the forms of collective action in Belgrade the paper explores how urban space is appropriated, used and contested by activists in order to make their claims for a more livable city. By taking the case-study of activist groups and individuals who direct their engagement towards the promotion of cycling in the capital, the paper sheds light on the significance of space in Belgrade’s bike movement. It investigates the multiple dimensions of space as a ground of interpretation and experience as well as the terrain where the activists’ activities are located. Furthermore, it argues that in Belgrade’s bike activism space becomes a field of empowerment enabling activists to regain agency and resist the pressure of political relations that are embedded spatially.