The Limits of “Radical Democracy”: A Gender Analysis of “Anarchist” Activist Collectives in Montreal

Erica Lagalisse (McGill University)


Drawing on ethnographic research among activist collectives in Montreal, Quebec, this paper illustrates how two contemporary “anarchist” movements are characterized by gendered divisions of labour, voice, and priorities despite a nominal commitment to “radical democracy” and egalitarian values. Contemporary anarchist activism synthesizes critiques of the State drawn from late 19th and early 20th century anarchist movements, with anti-authoritarian organizational forms developed by feminist movements in the 1970s and 1980s (i.e. consensus decision-making, a focus on “means matching ends”). However, the feminist call for a “politics of everyday life” appears to have been fetishized in systems of formal procedures that govern meetings within the public sphere; process-oriented aspects of feminism have been institutionalized in these new movements, while gender relations remain private and un-interrogated.

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