Alternative Futures & Popular Protest, 2019
Full Programme

Please see the final version of the programme below; click titles to see abstracts and keywords. Alternatively, download the .pdf abstract book.
Jump: Monday, Tuesday AM, Tuesday PM, Wednesday

Monday 15th April

12 - 2pm
Registration and buffet lunch in The Hub
2 - 3.30pm
Simultaneous Session 1
Session 1A in Room 4/5
Chair: Kate Alexander
Jane McAlevey
The Power to Win Requires the Interaction of Leadership and Skill
Abstract: Power holders in the United States are experiencing actual defeats, representing the first serious challenge to decades of their society-crushing austerity. Teachers and educators are revitalizing their unions by manifesting super majority strikes demanding more tax dollars for public, community schools, and in so doing, directly challenging corporations and the super-rich to pay more taxes in the name of democracy. Because teachers are educators, they are schooling parents and the broader community in exactly what’s at stake when the wealthy withdraw from their obligation to pay their fair share of the institutions which sustain participation by ordinary people in the electoral and civic arena. My paper will examine what I call the “interaction effect” between rank and file teachers, and the fulltime professional staff organizers who together are producing the power required to challenge capital: nothing less than 100% out mass strikes involving the whole of the community. I will connect my original research from the West Virginia strike one year ago this month, to the successful open-ended January strike by the second largest teacher’s union in America, the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA). The lessons have equal bearing for the UK in the throes of Brexit, and all of Europe, if not the “west” where similar dynamics require similar strategies. I first began collaborating with the progressive teacher’s caucus inside the UTLA in 2012, when I delivered the keynote speech to the union’s annual leadership conference. By 2013, three different factions of progressive teachers within the union came together to run a slate of officers in the next union election. This slate, called Union Power (UP), won every top union officer position (seven) in the union’s spring 2014 election, setting the stage for the all-out 32,000 teacher strike by January of 2019. The Union Power slate campaigned explicitly to “build an organizing union by creating an organizing department.” Within months of winning control of their union, the teacher leaders followed through, hiring their first organizing director (October 2014), an organizer who comes from the tradition of the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) era unions. The CIO tradition understands being strike-ready as the foundation of power for all workers and their unions. My paper will dissect the “interaction” between skilled, experienced organizers who work fulltime, can work across unions, sectors, and, types of workers, bringing the skill of effective struggle to the commitment of rank and file unionists so that all-out, open-ended strikes become real, not merely wishful thinking. Super majority strikes require the hunger and leadership of progressive rank and file trade unionists, and the skill of experienced organizers; it’s the interaction of the two that can lead to challenging and reversing the dangers of a rising populist right.
Keywords: Trade unions, democracy, bottom-up, interaction, participation, social movements
Jeff Goodwin (New York University)
Colin Barker's Marxist Perspective on Social Movements
Abstract: Colin Barker (1939-2019) is one of the few Marxist scholars who explicitly engaged mainstream academic social movement theory in an effort to construct an alternative Marxist theory of social movements. As part of this effort, for nearly a quarter century (1995-2018) Barker and Mike Tyldesley organized an annual conference on “Alternative Futures and Popular Protest” (AFPP) at Manchester Metropolitan University. During this time, Barker published more than a dozen scholarly papers on social movements—many of which were first presented at the AFPP conference—and also wrote many book reviews, short essays, and unpublished manuscripts on this topic. Among the most notable of Barker’s publications during this time is the volume Marxism and Social Movements (2013), which he coedited with Laurence Cox, John Krinsky, and Alf Gunvald Nilsen, and which includes Barker’s important essay, “Class Struggle and Social Movements.” In this paper, I review the main ideas and claims in Barker’s most important writings on social movements. I examine both the Marxist ideas that Barker found most useful in his work as well as the ideas from mainstream social movement theory which he believed Marxists should incorporate into their own thinking about movements. I argue that Barker was successful in showing the relevance and indeed necessity of Marxist ideas for social movement studies. For this reason, his work deserves to be read widely by social movement scholars and by all those interested in social movements and political protest.
Keywords: Marxism, class struggle, social movements, social movement theory
John Krinsky (City College of New York)
Keeping up the Conversation with Colin: Urban Commoning and Theories of Politics
Abstract: This paper draws on two strands of Colin Barker’s work—on state theory and on learning and the formation of consciousness—to argue that to understand the politics of urban “commoning,” we have, at once, to focus on the implications, if realized, of actual attempts at commoning for capitalism, and on the ways in which those involved in such struggles come to be conscious of their own potential to challenge the capitalist state. Reflecting on my own involvement in a coalition to spread community land trusts (CLTs—organizations for the collective ownership and disposition of land) in New York City, I make both a critical assessment of our own practice and of critics of similar practices. In the first instance, I examine our current deficits in preparing a broader and deeper challenge to the financial and real-estate speculation that drives not just the conditions that make commoning important but also the very resources upon which the capitalist state depends at multiple scales of governance. In the second, I examine the implicit ideas of consciousness and will in critical assessments of current CLT efforts and in other efforts of urban commoning, and argue that they tend to depend on judgments removed from the actual struggle itself, however sympathetic with it, in theory, it is.
Gareth Dale (Brunel University)
An introduction to ‘Struggling to be born? Revolutions in the Neoliberal Era.’
Abstract: In 1987 Colin Barker edited a collection of essays under the title Revolutionary Rehearsals. It examined a series of upheavals: France 1968, Chile 1972-3, Portugal 1974-5, Iran 1978-9 and Poland 1980-81 and tried to make some general sense of them. In 2012 Colin began, with Gareth Dale and Neil Davidson, to assemble a new volume. It looks at popular upheavals since 1987 (Eastern Europe, South Africa, Indonesia, Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, sub-Saharan Africa and Egypt), tries to make some general sense of them, and assesses the prospect of socialist revolution. It is scheduled for publication later this year. In this paper I will introduce the volume. I’ll begin by referring to Mark Beissinger’s data on ‘revolutionary episodes.’ He notes that whereas new revolutionary episodes occurred at a pace of 2.44 per year in 1900‐49, in 1985‐2014 they occurred at a rate of 4.10 per year. In particular, what he terms ‘urban civic revolts’ have become more prevalent and more potent. But this was also the era of neoliberalism, an era that saw the marginalisation of anti-systemic movements and, to echo Jeff Goodwin and Gabriel Hetland, “the strange disappearance of capitalism from revolutionary studies.” I shall next attempt some generalisations concerning revolutions in the neoliberal era, before concluding with a summary of the theoretical findings that are developed in the volume.
Session 1B in Room 8
Chair: Antje Daniel
Anne de Jong (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
Violence in Nonviolence: Structural violence and power in joint Palestinian-Israeli direct actions
Abstract: This paper critically engages with structural violence and reproduction of unequal power relations within nonviolent direct action. It will do so through a detailed ethnographic description of a particular joint Israeli-Palestinian protest near the Erez crossing into Gaza. While this protest didn’t entail any violent intervention from the Israeli army or military police, a seeming innocent incident among the activist draws out how so called joint actions can, in instances, reproduce unequal power relations and can mirrors the injustices they initially seek to oppose. Based on 19 months of in-depth fieldwork research this paper will combine direct action theory with the insights from ‘thinking Palestine’ and the ‘continuum of violence. By doing so, the empirics will be connected to the broader theoretical debate on the relation between violence and nonviolent resistance beyond Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I hereby commit to submit a full article on the first of April which elaborates on methodology, theoretical grounding in order to flesh out the ethnographic description of violence in nonviolent protest. This paper could be presented as part of a panel on social movements and everyday politics as well as a panel with a focus on either violence or nonviolence.
Keywords: Violence, nonviolent resistance, power relations, Palestine-Israel
Arun Frey (University of Oxford)
The Heterogeneous Impact of Threatening Events on Violence during the German Refugee Crisis
Abstract: While social movement literature on intergroup conflict has frequently examined the role of structural determinants to establish which local conditions lead to ethnic violence, less attention has been placed on the temporal dimension of such violence. A narrow focus on where, not when, violence occurs neglects substantial fluctuations in hostility over time and depicts conflict as overly static. This paper investigates anti-immigrant violence in Germany between 2014 and 2016, a period of heightened immigration to the country, and focuses on the role of events in inciting violence. The study reports three findings: Firstly, there is considerable heterogeneity in events’ effects on violence: after controlling for structural determinants, contagion dynamics, seasonal fluctuations and media salience, the 2015 New Year’s Eve sexual assaults (NYE) stands out among all threatening events in Germany, dramatically increasing subsequent attacks. Comparing this increase to the more moderate impact of domestic terrorist attacks indicates that discrepancies in events’ effects seem not to be related to straightforward measures of severity, but to more complex mobilisation dynamics. Secondly, events are able to not only influence the amount, but also the very distribution of violence. Following the NYE event, attacks increased disproportionately in previously less hostile regions, suggesting that nationwide hostility temporarily trumped the importance of pre-existing local conditions in predicting anti-immigrant violence. Finally, the increase in attacks consisted largely of minor crimes, while more extreme forms of violence were less affected. Extreme crimes and their offenders may be less susceptible to situational influences than minor delinquencies.
Keywords: Anti-immigrant violence, Germany, threatening events, refugee crisis
Ashjan Ajour (Goldsmiths)
Employing Human Body in Political Protest: The Hunger Strike in Occupied Palestine (2012-2018)
Abstract: In the context of occupied Palestine, this paper looks at the phenomenon of the prison hunger strike, in which political protesters starve themselves, risking their lives to challenge the prison authority’s power and to reconfigure the relationship between the colonial power and the resistant subject. I will investigate modes of self-sacrifice protest that employ human bodies as weapons. I explore the subjectivity of the hunger striker and asks how and why human bodies are used in anti-colonial resistance and what determines these radical resistance tactics, which a logic of self-sacrifice. I start by exploring this question: can the hunger strike be considered a violent or non–violent act? Hunger strikes highlight the self-sacrificing nature of some forms of political violence and lie in a contested space between violence and non-violence. We might consider the hunger strike as an act of non-violent resistance due to the fact that it is self-directed violence and does not harm other people, in contrast to martyrdom operations. Often, it is associated with symbolic power and is perceived as a weapon for the powerless. However, Allen Feldman, in his anthropological work Formation of Violence: The Narrative of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland (1991) frames hunger strike as violent action. The paper investigates how the body is employed in anti-colonial resistance and how the body works as a site of subjectivity-production in hunger strikes. This mode of resistance reflects the relationship between Palestinian political prisoners and the Israel Prison Authorities (IPA) and illustrates the complexity of settler-colonialism and the dynamics of anti-colonial resistance. The paper traces how power and resistance operate during the hunger strike by identifying the tactics of resistance deployed by Palestinian political prisoners in their relation to the techniques of colonial power employed by (IPA).
Keywords: Political Protest, Human Body, Subjectivity, Violence, Power, Resistance
Noémi Shirin Unkel (Maastricht University)
Narratives of violence: the Hamburg G20-summit 2017 in the mass media. A Critical Discourse Analysis of militancy and police violence in the Bild, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Welt
Abstract: How do the mass media portray instances of violent protest and repression? This paper explores the complex dynamics underlying the media representations of violence on behalf of police and protestors respectively. For this purpose the study conducts a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of three German newspapers - the Bild, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Welt. A case study of the 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg yields three main findings: 1) the media portray militant protestors as agents of violence, by means of employing specific naming strategies and a one-sided portrayal of their transitivity; 2) the police is prioritized as a source in general, and their Twitter page, in specific, is predominantly referenced explicitly and implicitly by all newspapers; 3) there is a striking absence of police violence and a corresponding criticism thereof, as well as, the demands of the anti-globalization movement. These mechanisms fall under the broader discourse practice of legitimation processes. In this case, state agents such as the police received the majority of public support, while dissident citizens are further delegitimized. Finally, it is argued that this primarily serves the power interests and self-preservation of the government, along with the media’s own interest in producing scandalous and hence widely read news. While certainly giving the movement widespread visibility in the news, the media discourse was far more effective in highlighting established police-media relations which serve to legitimize the police and its actions per se, while structurally delegitimizing protestors.
Keywords: G20-summit Hamburg, media discourse, violence, militant protest, police violence, legitimacy
Session 1C in Room 9
Chair: Matteo Tiratelli
Barbara Wejnert (University of Buffalo)
Populism in Transitional Democracies: the Case of Ukraine in 2004, and 2014
Abstract: This paper discusses the differences and similarities between democracy and populism with regards to their definitions, main goals, types of actors, and leadership. Special focus is devoted to the functions democracy and populism play in the politics of sovereign countries. As the chapter argues, democracy calls for political inclusiveness, equal rights, freedom and representative politics. In contrast, the spontaneous actions of populism appeal to popular agendas and often use disfranchised populations to achieve political goals. The unsettled interconnection between democracy and populism is used to analyze the Ukrainian events of the 2004 and the winter of 2013-14 in Maidan that was followed by the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the invasion by the Russian military force into the towns and cities of East Ukraine. These events, as the paper argues, attest not so much to the pro-Russian nationalistic sentiments and tendencies of disfranchised groups of Ukrainian populations, which desired to retreat to Russian dominance and authoritarian rule, but rather to the weakness of the Ukrainian democracy, the country’s economic problems including rising poverty, corruption and societal distrust of the elected government. The elements of populism present in the upraising of Euro-Maidan could be an early indicator of awaking of the sleeping giant that could pull down the fragile democratic regime. The election of Petro O. Poroshenko, a pro-European billionaire, as the President on May 25, 2014 after six months of turmoil lends credence to this conclusion.
Keywords: Populism, Democracy, Ukrainian Euromaidan, Orange Revolution, Political Elite, Populism-Democracy Interconnectedness
Joe White
“Get Him Out of Here” Or Wait Until 2020?
Abstract: Trump’s victory was unsettling and frightening. Caught by surprise, the “mainstream” pundits had far more questions than answers and prognostications. Who had voted for him? What was he—fascist, prefascist, or what? Was he bonkers, aside from his obvious narcissism? By late 20l7 these questions had given way to the following rough and ready consensus checklist: 1. Trump’s re-election was thinkable despite his continued low ratings. 2. Premature attempts to remove him would trigger a powerful backlash. 3. If Trump were to be driven out, vice president Pence would be even worse. 4. Therefore the safest course was to let special prosecutor Mueller do his thing and hope that the Democrats would win back at least one house of Congress. In November 20l8 the Democrats did indeed win back the house of representatives. The administration continued to be mired in scandals. Mueller was still on the job. Although a few Democratic members of congress openly call for Trump’s impeachment, the party leadership says, wait until 2020. But a significant new development is the emergence of the Democratic Socialists of America, which claims 55,000 members and is clearly hegemonic on the American Left. What exactly is DSA’s understanding of Trump? How urgently do they reckon the need to get rid of Trump? Do they agree with the historian Christopher Browning that “one thing we can learn from the demise of Weimar and the ascent of Hitler is how important it is to do it early?” Do they favor massive non-violent civil disobedience, perhaps along the line of Occupy a few years ago? As the good Gramscians that they claim to be, is DSA committed to playing a truly counterhegemonic role? These are the main questions I propose to address.
Lewis Bassett (University of Manchester)
Corbynism: between ideology and practice
Abstract: Neoliberalism in the UK has meant a radical break with some of the major pillars of British post-War social democracy. Yet it wasn’t until the 2008 bank bailout and the subsequent turn to austerity economics that the consequences of this “hollowing out” erupted into the political arena, much to the torment and surprise of the majority of London’s political class. Putting Brexit to one side – still an ongoing saga at the time of writing – the election of former back-bencher Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party – the party of class and imperialist compromise par excellence – can be seen in terms of a response to this crisis. Despite the opening for the left in Labour being the result of efforts to constitutionally curtail the influence of the party’s affiliated trade unions, Corbyn’s leadership campaigns were frequently authored in the language of a “mass movement”; and while drawing crowds of support both online and at campaign rallies such a rhetoric appeared to make sense. For many involved, Corbyn’s “new kind of politics” proposed to reach out directly to the subjects of crisis in order to empower an independent political force or “social movement” beyond Parliament. Such a strategy resonates with the ideological tenants of “Bennism”, British Trotskyism, post-Anarchism and the erudite preoccupations of the New Left, in which the former to some degree all conjoin. With these ideological frameworks in mind, but not in use, this paper lays out the development, strategies and objectives of Corbynism in practice. I make the case that there is a large gulf between these shades of far-left idealism and what the contemporary Labour Party is actually up to. However, more than this, by offering a sociologically realist account of Corbynism, I intend to use the case study to critically reflect upon the idealism and historical specificity of some New Left prejudices. The paper draws upon original qualitative research within and around Corbyn’s Labour, including in-depth field work and interviews with many of the Corbyn project’s key participants
Keywords: Jeremy Corbyn; the Labour Party; movement parties; new left; populism
Moskvina Yuliya (Charles University, Prague )
Social movements, transnationalism and left-wing populism
Abstract: The paper investigates the question of interconnection between critique of social movements studies (proposed by Cox, Fominaya and Gagyi), left wing populism (proposed by Mouffe) and discourses produced by the intellectuals of transnational pan-European movement (DiEM25). Critique of classic canon of SMS is based on presupposition that European (or other local/regional) knowledge brings more essential categories of thinking for the movements then the “universal” epistemological apparat of SMS. Moreover, knowledge is historically embedded and does not simply reproduce itself according to a given canon. The questions of the paper are: how is this local knowledge articulated in the transnational movement? How is the local knowledge, transnationalism and left-wing populism relate to each other? The paper analyses DiEM25 as a transnational movement and Srecko Horvat, Yanis Varoufakis and Slavoj Žižek as the knowledge-producers for this movement. In a first step, it explores the relation of the locally produced knowledge (all authors focus their attention on injustices defined towards the states they have been born in) and transnational aspiration of the movement. In a second step, the paper investigates the (possible) category of the “people” in this thought and in such a manner relates analysed knowledge to the project of left-wing populism proposed by Mouffe. The paper is a part of a project Transnational Populism and European Democracy financed by the Czech Science Foundation.
Keywords: transnational movements, SMS, left-wing populism, DiEm25
3.30 - 4pm
Refreshments in The Hub
Colin Barker: a celebration of his work
Roundtable with Ian Allinson, Tithi Bhattacharya, Laurence Cox, Gareth Dale, John Krinsky, Jane McAlevey, Trevor Ngwane and Mike Tyldesley
Abstract: Colin Barker co-founded and co-organised these Alternative Futures and Popular Protest conferences for their first 23 years, before handing over to the University of Manchester team. He contributed greatly to the study of social movements, revolution and the state, particularly to Marxist approaches in these areas and most recently to the use of cultural-historical activity theory for social movement studies. From the 1960s to the present he engaged with popular struggles as activist and theorist: his collected papers include many public talks, pieces in socialist publications and academic writing of all kinds. Colin published several books, including Festival of the Oppressed: Solidarity, Reform and Revolution in Poland 1980-81; Revolutionary Rehearsals and Marxism and Social Movements. A follow-up to Revolutionary Rehearsals and a Collected Works are in process. Colin was an incisive critic, a supportive colleague and an encouraging mentor to generations of scholars and activists. In this roundtable, friends, comrades and colleagues will talk about different aspects of his contribution to movements and the study of movements.

Tuesday 16th April

9 - 9.30am
Refreshments in The Hub
9.30 - 11am
Simultaneous Session 3
Session 3A in Room 4/5
Chair: Gareth Dale
Luke Yates (University of Manchester)
Struggles in the Platform Economy: Fields, futures and astroturfing
Abstract: Diverse visions of society and the economy compete in the struggles around businesses like Uber and Airbnb. The ‘Sharing Economy’ is a deeply contested term which rhetorically links such businesses with prefigurative projects such as community energy cooperatives, Freecycle and alternative currencies. Controversy over businesses’ reliance on precarious employment, exacerbating of urban tensions around housing and congestion, non-regulated and untaxed consumption, and the advance of private interests at the expense of the common have led to protests, occupations, petitions, blockades, strikes and boycotts. This paper explores the dynamics around these struggles, paying particular attention to innovative modes of legitimation employed by some of the key businesses, and how they make use of yet also compete with movement 'alternatives'. It also discusses the theoretical tools from social movement studies and other sub-disciplines that help make sense of the different forms of contention taking place. These range from ‘field’-type conflicts, forms of everyday politics similar to ‘critical consumption’, and what some commentators have called ‘ideological warfare’ in debates around how platform type businesses should be resisted, regulated and governed.
Keywords: sharing economy; alternative futures; platforms; astroturfing; fields; Airbnb
Madelaine Moore (Kassel University)
Re/productive Unrest? The Emergence of Public Protest in Ireland
Abstract: The proposed introduction of water charges and subsequent protests in Ireland (the largest since independence) capture the contestation and contradictions between the productive and reproductive aspects of capitalist accumulation. The water charges movement, that peaked in activity between 2014-5, marks the largest per capita protest movement in Europe since the financial crisis. This is despite commentators, media, and government claiming that the Irish had accepted the necessity of austerity and the country had “successfully” exited the bail-out program the year before. Although water is clearly an issue that mobilises people in novel ways, the question remains why water, why then? Why did the biggest social movement in Ireland erupt over €200 and in a period of claimed economic recovery? This paper argues that the water movement marks a possible turning point in a growing period of re/productive unrest in Ireland, with protests around reproductive rights (Repeal the 8th), housing, health, and marriage equality all emerging after the “successful” exit from the bailout. This highlights the internal relation between the economic, political and the social, and how the resolution of one crisis, has quickly manifested as a crisis in another related sphere. Institutional cleavages are being created and also harnessed by movements, opening spaces for protest and alternatives where blockages previously existed (this relationality draws on the recent work by Kevin Gillan (2018). This is a dynamic and productive process. I propose, that when the shifting institutional formations - structuring conditions - during this period are explored in dialectical relation with the social struggles that developed (Bieler and Morton 2018), the eruption of public protest and subsequent waves of unrest are not a surprise, but actually sharpen the contradictions inherent to the Irish state and pursued capitalist accumulation strategy.
Keywords: Social movement, social reproduction, water, Ireland, capitalist accumulation
Paul Lewis, David Bailey, & Saori Shibata (University of Birmingham, Leiden University)
Political Economy, Social Strain, and Alternatives to Austerity and Neoliberalism
Abstract: The post-2008 period has been marked by austerity, stagnation, but yet the stubborn persistence of a neoliberal consensus. During the same period, the prominent prospective alternatives to neoliberalism have also changed, passing through: a brief period of Keynesian hope during 2009; the prospect of radical horizontalism during the public square movements of 2011; efforts to 'occupy' the institutions of democracy, as witnessed by the movement parties of Podemos and Syriza; and now what appears to be a populism of both the left and the right, committed to some kind of re-nationalised alternative to neoliberalism. This paper argues that attempts to explain these developments require a political economy of dissent: a framework through which to understand contemporary capitalism, the contested social relations which constitute it, and the forms of resistance and reaction that have emerged from it and which have subsequently congealed into a variety of (unstable) political settlements. This requires a combination of critical political economy, institutional analysis, and social movement studies. In developing a political economy of dissent, therefore, the present paper sets out to describe, understand and explain the different trajectories of capitalism and its contestation, and the unstable institutional outcomes in which these have resulted, during the so-called 'age of austerity'. This enables the identification of different sources of social strain as they have developed since 2008, and therefore highlights the potentials for change to the state-market-society configuration in the present. Empirically, it focuses on concrete developments in the UK, US, Spain, Germany and Japan.
Pavlos Papadopoulos (University of Liege)
Solidarity Economy: Social Movements Beyond Politics of Recognition?
Abstract: New Social Movements (NSMs) and Contentious Politics (CP) dominate the research and analysis of social movements. NSMs display collective action as a battle for state’s recognition. CP depicts social movements as attempts to advance collective interests through the state. These approaches place emphasis on state concessions transforming collective subjects into claimants of either identity recognition or interests. In addition, structures, institutions, political process, demonstration, demands and reforms become pivotal in the analysis. During the financial crisis, activism and collective action questioned these approaches by highlighting their limitations. Scholars encountered difficulties in categorizing and analyzing newly emerging Solidarity Economy (SE) movement. This paper discusses the relation of SE to social movements and traces what is new with this movement. It questions the relation of SE initiatives with CP and NSMs and reinforces the hypothesis that these initiatives constitute the quintessential paradigm in order to understand a shift of collective action from CP and NSM to new forms of social movements. It argues that the movement of SE and the radical alternatives it constructs offer a different view on social movements. As a paradigm of contemporary social movements, SE includes a set of practices deviant to NSMs and CP, and in many cases draws upon elements, such as direct action, self-management and prefiguration, from anarchist and libertarian socialist tradition. Recognition in this context becomes a matter of legal protection and not an identity concern. SE initiatives go beyond state-centeredness, politics of demand and polity model and challenge the dominant frameworks for the analysis of social movements. A need to re-think social movements emerges. To prove the above argument, the paper follows two alternative projects based in Greece: the self-managed factory of Viomichaniki Metalleutiki and a local network called Proplasma.
Keywords: Social Movements, Recognition, Solidarity Economy, Social Change
Session 3B in Room 8
Chair: Ibalu Alba Dwan
Eugene Nulman (Birmingham City University)
Will the Radical Imaginary Be Televised? An Examination of Popular Film and Television
Abstract: Jameson has famously noted that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. Although others have postulated various reasons for this, is it not possible that this is the case because we have not infrequently ‘viewed’ the end of the world through its representations in popular cultural texts, particularly within post-apocalyptic and science fiction genres. On the other hand, alternatives to capitalism have rarely been portrayed. Nevertheless, fiction in popular culture provides us with opportunities to explore alternatives when they do manifest and these alternatives, even at small levels may produce ideological rupture that transcends the hegemony that persistently repeats the words “There Is No Alternative”. This exploration of popular film and television examines the representations of alternative lifestyles in order to understand the possible space in which such representations can help foster radical political thought beyond the field of individualised lifestyle choices.
Keywords: Radical Imaginary, Ideology, Popular Culture, Alternative Lifestyles
Mike Tyldesley (MMU)
Nicole Mitchell, Jazz and the Dialectics of the Afro-Futurist Imaginary.
Abstract: This presentation will consider three CDs by the African American Jazz flautist Nicole Mitchell, and use them as a way of considering Afrofuturism. It will suggest that Afrofuturism be seen as an Imaginary, using terminology derived from French social theorists, rather than simply as a “genre” (or genres) of artistic production. (Thus, whilst not a Social Movement in itself, it can be seen as potentially having an embodiment – or embodiments - in social movements and society more generally). It will show the impact of Afrofuturist writer Octavia Butler on Mitchell, and then draw out the different ways that Butler and Mitchell have expressed the Afrofuturist Imaginary. (Some, though less, reference will also be made to Sun Ra). In very simplistic terms it will suggest that we can find two apparently radically different orientations in Afrofuturist artistic productions: some are apparently examples of “Space Fantasy” on the one hand, while others appear to be very close to being “Realist” social criticism. Indeed, it will be shown with reference to both Butler and Mitchell that the same artist can produce work in both these orientations. The paper will end by arguing that this shows that the Afrofuturist Imaginary is best considered dialectically, and that these contradictory orientations can be seen as vital parts of a complex whole. It will suggest that strength and continued vitally and impact of the Afrofuturist Imaginary lies in its dialectical formation
Suryamayi Clarence-Smith (University of Sussex)
Auroville: A (r)evolutionary Experiment in Prefiguring a Spiritualized Society
Abstract: 1968 is a year that marks a powerful era of radically progressive social transformation throughout Europe and North America, in which young people insisted “Another world is possible,” and sought to claim and enact it. The spirit and culture of this revolution were in part informed by the concurrent popular discovery of Indian spirituality, which offered tools for the individual emancipation that was seen as necessary to accompany and realize the transformation sought for society at large. In the years leading up to ’68, in India, two “spiritual activists” – Sri Aurobindo, a revolutionary in India’s independence movement who had turned to spirituality to further the work of realizing an emancipated society, and The Mother, his partner in this socio-spiritual undertaking – had begun (r)evolutionizing the yogic tradition. Rather than individual enlightenment achieved through ascetic withdrawal, the premise of Integral Yoga was the spiritualization of all aspects not only of self, but of society – economics, governance, art, education. Auroville was founded in 1968 by The Mother as an experimental township dedicated to this endeavour, which drew both young Indians who came of age in the wake of India’s independence, and young Westerners radicalized by the revolutionary period of ’68, each wanting to participate in shaping alternative futures through new ways of living. 50 years on, Auroville is the largest, most diverse, and amongst the longest-standing intentional communities in the world, with approximately 3000 people of over 50 nationalities, half of which are Indian citizens – and in which I was born and raised, and am a current member. Unlike previous attempts at utopian communes, which sought to enact predetermined, theoretically perfect, societies – and invariably failed to do so – Auroville was conceived as a “laboratory for evolution,” one which would seek to prefigure a spiritualized society that could not be anticipated but instead, progressively elaborated through experimentation and applied spiritualism. I argue that the Auroville experiment is an example of and helps us to define a prefigurative practice of utopianism, and is revelatory of the influence of spiritual activism in shaping such practice.
Keywords: utopian practice, alternative society, societal experiment, intentional community, prefiguration, spiritual activism
Ayse Sargin (University of Essex)
Whose Memory and Resistance to What? Collective Memories and Political Imaginaries of Social Movements
Abstract: There is a burgeoning interest on how collective memories influence social movements. Previous studies have considered the role of memories of both past grievances, and mobilizations on future activism. Building on this knowledge, this paper examines the nexus between collective memories of past grievances, and contemporary movement identities, narratives and political imaginaries, based on the study of the Munzur Valley anti-dam movement in Dersim, Turkey. Since the mid-2000s, there has been a surge of hydropower generation projects in Turkey, as part of the neoliberal restructuring of the energy market. These projects pose threats of dispossession and displacement for the local communities, as well as dramatically changing the physical and socio-economic landscapes of the rural areas. Various local communities have resisted these projects on their land. The Munzur Valley anti-dam movement, is one of many such resistances and it is led by Kurdish Alevis - a historically oppressed ethno-religious and political minority inhabiting Dersim. Based on ethnographic data, semi-structured interviews with movement participants and analysis of movement publications, this paper has two aims. Firstly, it puts forward how strategic rememberance of past oppression enables a predominant narrative that reinforces ethno-religious identity as a boundary marker vis-à-vis outsiders, and unifies people of Dersim across classes in calling for cancellation of dams in Dersim. Secondly, it illustrates how a different reconstruction of the past based on differential class positionalities and political identities yields a competing resistance narrative that contextualizes current dam projects within neoliberal capitalism, emphasizes commonalities between various communities resisting dams, and opposes all extractive projects, as well as further penetration of capital into rural areas across Turkey. The paper argues that how the past is remembered and reconstructed, and by whom, not only shapes movement identities and narratives of resistance, but also forms the scope of the political imaginaries of movements.
Keywords: collective memory, political imaginary, movement identity, movement narrative, community-based resistance, anti-dam movements
Session 3C in Room 9
Chair: Christian Scholl
Arianne Giorgi (University of Murcia)
Fashion as an element of domination from the 18th century to the present day
Abstract: The project wants to explain fashion as an element of domination from the 18th century to the present day. It will demonstrate how and why ctlothing transformed man into a social being, at the same time that he "castrated" him, modifying his identity and behavior. Through the use of comparative analysis - of art works, notarial protocols, written correspondences, press, inventions of goods in national archives and digital platforms - we will demonstrate that not only was it a male prerogative but that it was used as a form of power and control . Specifically: gender, class and political domination. In this way, we propose to use this new methodology in order to expand knowledge of cultural, social and political studies.
Keywords: Clothing, Masculinity, Dominance, Social and Political Studies, Sociology
Claire Jin Deschner (University of Leicester)
Care for your autonomous free zone: movement image and reproductive labour in the autonomous commons
Abstract: Since the 1970s the autonomous movement in Europe has built alternative social infrastructures (Steen, Katzeff, & Hoogenhuijze, 2014). In anarchist or autonomous theory, self-organising social structures of reproduction and production aim to develop a more autonomous life, another way of being together (Vieta, 2014). This is known as the ‘politics of everyday life’ or ‘commoning’ (Ruivenkamp & Hilton, 2017). These infrastructures are little pockets of anti-capitalist organising (Holloway, 2010), visible in autonomous centres, but existing in the social relations of a community. However, these theories of commoning tend to miss a reproductive labour perspective (Thorburn, 2017).This PhD project explores the visibility of different forms of participation in autonomous movement infrastructures. The movement’s ideal might have been reduced to the image of a militant 1980s barricade building street fighter (Kadir, 2014), side-lining other practises which built and maintain the commons of everyday life and placing physical fighting over reproductive labour (Lagalisse, 2010). Based on this I ask: How is belonging to the autonomous politics performed today (Butler, 1999)? By which standards are actions valued and the bodies who perform them? I explore these questions through my experiences in the autonomous movement in Hamburg, where have conducted an activist ethnography supplemented with theatre workshops on questions of ‘performance’ and ‘reproductive labour’.Exploration so far indicates, that participation in the commons follows a strong gendered, educated and abled-body ideal. Although this ideal is often criticised, individual actors feel a need conform to it, rather than challenge it. Through this, social identities and their connected exploitations are reproduced. These forms of self-organising risk mirroring neo-liberal work identities, as the entrepreneur of the self, who does things himself for himself using all available resources. Finding solidary alternatives to the exploitation of each other is a crucial question to offer emancipatory forms of organising and living.
Keywords: everyday politics, commoning, reproductive labour, care, self-organisation, infrastructure
Sabrina Zajak (Ruhr-University Bochum )
Social movements and everyday politics. Exploring prefiguration through a transformative self-experiment
Abstract: Today we can observe a broad range of prefigurative practices (from degrowth and zero waste practices to various experiments with alternative economic living, eatable cities and sustainability practices). There is a great hope that these practices will change politics, societies, and the global order from the bottom up. In theory, the key mechanism of change is the diffusion of novel every day practices of life. But while there is an increasing amount of studies on prefigurative politics, it is difficult to explore micro dynamics of diffusion in every day interactions amongst friends, family members, online groups, or situational encounters with strangers. One of the difficulties is that the researchers can’t be present in all those moments of interactions, leaving him unable to explore the real power of diffusion. Yet only deeper insights of these micro dynamics in various encounters can help us to better understand the specific chances, but also limits of diffusing new practices. This paper suggests a novel approach for studying prefigurative practices and their diffusion: the transformative self-experiment. It is novel in two ways: it helps to gain novel insights about the production and diffusion of knowledge about alternative economic lifestyles. But it is also an act of prefiguring sciences itself by blurring the boundaries between academic and activist practices. Drawing on Garfinkel’s crisis experiments (Garfinkel 1973), Alain Touraine’s sociological interventions (Sociologie de l'action 1965) and insights from participatory and transformative action research, the paper develops a self-experiment, where the academic turns into an activist in an issue area distant to his or her existing life. The experiments explores new practices of zero waste, zero plastic and zero social media consumption. They reveal various limits of diffusing alternative sustainable ways of lives, suggesting that transformation based on prefiguration is wishful thinking or maybe even an economic ideology itself. Still the experiment suggests that transformation is possible through self-reconstitution of its own political subjectivity
Cristiana Olcese (University of Manchester)
Social Movements beyond Mobilisation? An Exploration of Non-Contentious Everyday Practices and Approaches with a Political Dimension and Potential
Abstract: In this paper I suggest that one of the reasons street protest and social movement organisations are so prominently the focus of social movement research is their visibility and how easy is identifying them as targets for research. I also contend that social movement scholars have a soft spot for ‘street politics’ given their historical significance and non-elitist aesthetics. However, I argue that identifying more latent or submerged aspects of social movements is equally important for at least two reasons: (1) the acknowledgment of a much broader range of ‘politics from below’ and, linked to this, how contentious politics and non-contentious politics inform each other; and (2) through the analysis of alternative approaches to social change is possible to identify potential obstacles (i.e. to achieve their goals) affecting contentious politics (rarely discussed given the celebratory stand of most current scholarship). Using ethnographic data and qualitative interviews gathered from a wide range of social movements (women, LGBT, environmental and Occupy), this paper explores the narratives and practices of several intermittent and/or sceptical participants in collective actions, who carry out most of their political activism outside protests and social movement organisations. Their political and/or morally motivated work tends to take place in art organisations, mental health organisations, non-profit and for-profit organisations which they claim have allowed them to promote change in ways more in tune with their political sensibilities and ‘real’ identities (who they think they are in relation to others). As a result they have been able to engage with ‘politics from below’ in a more meaningful and sustained way.
Session 3D in Room 3
Chair: Hector Rios
Mike O'Donnell
Community Participation as Institutional Power
Abstract: The argument of this paper is that a more effective integration of the concept of community, both theoretically and in terms of policy, into socialist/social democratic practice is necessary to achieve a durable new social settlement based on an expansion of democracy and an increase in equality. To achieve this requires marrying the concept of community to that of participation. Historically the dominant form of socialism has tended to oppose class to community and state power with national and local 'communal' hierarchy: the state being seen as the necessary means for achieving greater material equality and equality of cultural opportunity. In general, it is the Right that appeals to the notion of community, particularly, national community. Teresa May's ploy that Conservatism is the 'party of everyone', not 'just the many and the few' articulates this sentiment. 'Community' in these terms simply glides over fundamental inequalities. On the left, the largely distinct socialist and anarchist traditions, have tended to leave the later with the more active focus on building non-hierarchical structures. And yet it is inherent to socialism that it seeks to establish a democratic society more far reaching than liberal democracy. Ironically, the populist surge offers an opportunity radically to advance this cause. 'Left' populism has a strong 'grass-roots' base and is characterized by community activism and an anti-hierarchical ethic as, arguably, the ‘movement of the squares’ demonstrated. But can this preferred social movement model be adapted more durably to transform institutional power? Several works, including my own, have argued that local institutions and local branches of national institutions - economic, social/environmental and cultural - could be reformed to increase democratic participation in a way that would create more materially and culturally equal communities and societies.
Feyzi Ismail (SOAS)
The main enemy is at home: humanitarian intervention and the anti-war movement in Britain
Abstract: Foreign military intervention in countries of strategic importance to Western imperialist powers – ostensibly on humanitarian grounds, for democracy, human rights etc. – has become standard practice in the post-Cold War era and particularly after 9/11 and the War on Terror. Proponents of war call it humanitarian intervention, and it has undermined the principle of sovereignty, killed and displaced millions of people, and made the world a more dangerous place. In response, there have been three major principles underlying the approach of the British anti-war movement. First, that all foreign military intervention should be opposed at all times, even when accompanied by humanitarian or democratic rhetoric because rights, liberation or democratic progress can never be achieved through foreign military intervention. Second, it has concentrated its campaigning against the British state and its allies, partly because Britain has been participating in wars fought by the US – by far the largest military power in the world – and partly because it is only against home governments that anti-war movements can have real impact. And third, it has not taken a position on the various governments of the countries under attack by Western powers but simply limited itself to opposing intervention. This has allowed it to build the widest possible movement and avoid co-option by humanitarian interventionists. The aim of these principles has been to weaken the ability of imperialist powers to prosecute war, provide solidarity to populations at the brunt of imperialist war and build international coalitions against war and imperialist aggression. These principles have generated controversy and criticism, but in the process, the anti-war movement has been successful in shaping public opinion against war, most notably during the Iraq War, but also against other interventions.
Keywords: humanitarian intervention, imperialism, anti-war movement, solidarity, united front, the state
Mark Youngman (Birmingham University)
Replacing the Standard Bearer: Leadership Transition in Insurgent Social Movements
Abstract: This article examines leadership succession in insurgent social movements. A Social Movement Theory (SMT) approach, we argue, encourages us to conceive of leadership as a negotiated relationship between leaders and followers, which requires the performance of certain tasks. Leadership transition in insurgent movements is of interest because standard-bearers, as opposed to followers, are often targeted in counterinsurgency operations, while leaders are intrinsically linked to movement survival. Despite this, little scholarly attention has been paid to the complex problem of leadership transition. In the first part of the article we illustrate the multifaceted nature of leadership, and argue that leadership has suffered from an empirical and theoretical neglect across disciplines. In the second part of the article, we examine some of the difficulties violent and clandestine movements may have, when navigating leadership succession. The third section explains how the insurgency in the North Caucasus can be used to better understand leadership transition, offering a methodological and theoretical framework to assess succession. The fourth part develops an empirically informed assessment of succession, focusing on five key tasks performed by leaders, before turning to analyse the main challenges which may impact on successful transitions. The paper concludes with comments on the future directions for research on leadership transitions.
11 - 11.30am
Refreshments in The Hub
11.30 - 1pm
Simultaneous Session 4
Session 4A in Room 4/5
Chair: Luke Yates
Antje Daniel (University of Vienna)
Reclaim the City – Between Hope and Anger
Abstract: Cities became more and more key points of transformation and are places for dealing with social conflicts. This is also the case in South Africa: The Capetonian social movement Reclaim the City emerged in 2017 and struggles for citizens’ rights – particularly the right for housing. Processes of gentrification challenge this right for adequate housing. Citizens can’t afford the rising cost of living and have to move. Once again, in history the most vulnerable groups of the society black and coloured people are affected by evictions. Relcaim the City calls for affordable housing in the inner circle of Cape Town and occupied two houses for the people who were evicted. Based on an ethnographic field research in 2017 and 2018 the presentation investigates the role and social dimensions of occupations and new intrapersonal relations. The occupation creates a new social space for living, interaction and even a place for learning and dreaming. Therefore, the study analyses, on the basis of biographical narratives, the everyday practices and emotions of occupants. The occupations offers a new home for the evicted people which goes along with complex feelings such as relief, hope and anger or frustration due to ongoing conflicts within the occupied houses. Likewise, all occupants are engaged in protest, which requires a shared sense of belonging for organising collective action. Therefore, the paper analyses the complex interplay of emotions between the occupants, which shape the movement, and their collective action.
Keywords: South Africa, reclaim the city, every day politics, emotions, alternative practices
Basak Tanulku (Independent researcher)
Urban Space and Protests: The Transformation of Gezi Park from a Public Square into an Urban Commons
Abstract: Since the 2010s, the world has been shaken by new social movements, from the USA to the Middle East, from Europe to Latin America. Turkey experienced the same during the summer of 2013, when a group of protesters camped inside Gezi Park in Istanbul, to protect it from being transformed into a commercial complex. This paper explores the occupation of Gezi Park and aims at advancing knowledge on the relationship between urban space and protests. For this purpose, the paper primarily uses the data collected through the desk search such as the interviews conducted with the protesters published in the media, information on the demographic profile of protesters and the visuals of the occupation and protests. The paper argues that first; the occupation of Gezi Park reflects variegated “rights to, of and in the city” created through the practice of “commoning”. The park becomes a “socio-spatial bricolage”, i.e. socio-spatial hybrid which contains past and present, traditional and contemporary and global and local subjects, practices and images and different realms such as urban space and politics, urban space and protesters and the physical and the virtual. Last, the paper argues that the park reflects a new political and collective subjectivity using play and humour against the authorities.
Keywords: protests and urban spaces; the rights to, of and in the city, urban commoning, socio-spatial bricolage, Istanbul
Chanhyo Jeong (University of Leicester)
Cat Union and Other Joke Flags of the South Korean Candlelight Revolution 2016- 2017
Abstract: This paper is a qualitative study of the Korean Candle Light Revolution where joke flags impacted the collective emotion in a protest and became an essential element for public mobilisation. In 2016, the media started to report the political scandal around The creators of the flags used multiple rhetorical strategies — For instance, some used satire and parody that are related to political and social issues. More than half of the flags in the sample used a floating signifier as a rhetorical strategy. There were other flags such as “Citizen's Coalition for Plant Pot Salvation”, which had no reference to an existing organisation or cultural icons, removing an identity marker altogether. The other six joke flags such as “Korean Confederation of Cat Unions” and “Hamnesty International”, deployed some familiar vocabulary and visual markers of well-known NGOs, and labour unions. The gap between the expectation and the final representation makes the flags subversive and critical, yet it does not claim any specific values. The spatial-temporal occupation of joke flags in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square, the beloved public space for many other historic social movements, initiated an enduring emotional appeal for those who remembered Korea’s tragic past, stemming from violent ideology conflicts (Cumings, 2005). In this sense, the joke flags have created a greater community identity beyond ideology and class. Evoked by the materiality of the protest, the collective emotional experience helped to transform Gwanghwamun Square into a space for festivities (Lefebvre, 1991), where eventually people celebrated the well-deserving civic victory while being completely free of violence.president Park and her strange relationship with her long-time friend Ms Choi, who actively engaged in various state affairs without any authorisation (Lee, 2018). When people got the full picture of the scale of corruption, the protesters were more than ready, after having learned lessons from the past, fully capable to self-organise in a disciplined manner in public spaces (Katsiaficas, 2013: 63). Although the protesters were peaceful, the conservatives still framed them as “anti-government, anti-American, pro-North Korea, or leftist” (Kim, 2017: 204). To counter the framing, the civil society needed to re-organise their identities. By using a floating signifier as a main rhetorical strategy, joke flaggers successfully avoided the burden of identity categorisation, hiding their socio-political identities. Also, humour invited more bystanders into the movement, and the spontaneity and randomness of the flags added the feeling of playfulness. The peaceful and festive nature of the protest explains the noticeable presence of children on the site.
Keywords: Inclusivity, Social Movement, De-categorisation, Materiality, Spatiality
Paul Routledge (University of Leeds)
Climate Games: the spatial strategies of protest at the COP21, Paris
Abstract: Dominant neoliberal economic doctrine during the past thirty years has wrought profound damage to democratic practices, cultures, institutions and imaginaries. As Wendy Brown argues, political participation and the right to equality have been reduced to market freedom and the right to compete, while individual activity in the market has replaced shared political deliberation and rule. This has resulted in a 'post-political consensus' that has circumscribed what is deemed as 'legitimate' behaviour in institutions, the media and decision-making in society as well as attempting to circumscribe what can be seen and heard in political debate and protest. Reflecting on this, Jacques Rancière argues that the social world and the people in it are constructed in particular ways that allow participation to some, while excluding and separating others. This occurs through a set of formal and informal rules and procedures that determine what is visible and what can be said and heard in political discourse as well as the spaces in which this occurs, and obscures and renders unrecognisable substantial portions of the population. However, Rancière argues that such rules and procedures are always incomplete and unstable and thus open to challenge, when those excluded by such orders make themselves seen and heard, by enacting political interventions. For Rancière, politics is characterised by dissensus: the appearance of subjects (women, workers, farmers, indigenous people) in a re-figured space so as to be seen and heard in it. The practice of dissensus places one world into another, if only momentarily, and makes visible the partiality of the political order. Politics in this sense "confronts the blindness of those who 'do not see' with that which has no place to be seen". However, what is missing from the analysis of political practice by Rancière is a fully rendered account of the spatial politics of protest. This paper provides fully rendered strategic spatial coordinates and interpretive frames with which to analyse and understand social movement action, mobilisation, identity and politics. I suggest six different yet interrelated 'spatial strategies', that consider the importance of place, scale, mobility, creativity, emotion and discourse to the practice of protest while also examining the power relations involved in its prosecution. I will also interweave this analysis with a consideration of the deployment of different yet interrelated 'sites of intervention': material or conceptual spaces within a system where activists apply pressure in order to disrupt its’ functioning or argue for change as part of broader strategic goals of campaigns.
Session 4B in Room 8
Chair: Peter Funke
Bartosz Ślosarski (University of Warsaw)
Players and Tools. The Role of Artifacts in Street Protest Arenas
Abstract: The aim of the paper is to examine the role of materiality and material culture in the interactive dynamics of street protest arenas (Jasper 2014; McGarry et al. 2016). The hypothesis is that specific types of players are participating in the arena of street protest event and materiality expresses the relations between them (Johnston 2009). In this sense artifacts mediate the relationships between players in the protest situation (Gell 1998) – so they are not only symbolical signifiers but also tools for strategic actions and interactions in the protest arena. The theoretical investigation is based on the partial results of the in-depth interviews with the specific types of players participating in the street protest arenas (Della Porta 2014) – predominantly with activists who are taking care of material resources, but also media-activists, bystanders, participants, opponents, photo-journalists, policemen, and socially engaged performers. The purpose of interviews was to define the stake of the game in the street protest arenas. Questions for the organizers/activists concerned the production of artifacts, assumed symbolic or instrumental goals, results obtained or unexpected consequences of the specific use. Other players were contextual and their strategic actions towards the materiality of the protesters discussed. This relational approach to protest events allows us to extend our cognitive spectrum to non-human actors (Latour 1988) in the situation of street protest, but also broadens methodological capabilities – the examination of artifacts as tools for strategic action helps us to investigate specific players and mutual relations between them. In my paper, I want to discuss the above-mentioned aspects and also to relate this specific issues to the broader spectrum of social movement theories and concepts – visual cultures (Doerr, Mattoni, Teune 2015), repertoires of knowledge production (Della Porta, Pavan 2017), policing protest theories (Della Porta, Reiter 1998), media-coverage of protest events (Batziou 2015) and so on.
Keywords: artifacts, players, social movements, materiality, street protests, protest arenas.
Özge Derman (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris)
Performativity in authoritarian context: the case of Turkey
Abstract: Nowadays, authoritarian developments, the right-wing tendencies and neoliberal politics seem to interpenetrate and alternate more and more the society as a whole, despite the effervescence of dignity and liberty claiming gatherings all around the world in the last decade. While the post-2010 movements revealed a great amount of creative and performative repertoire of action among activists along with the rise of hope for a more democratic society, in Turkey, two major events occur: Gezi Movement in 2013 and Anti-coup Movement in 2016 The post-2010 vague of movements revealed that taking the streets fosters a bodily presence and performative activism, therefore a flourishing creative and artistic formation throughout the movements. Gezi Movement represents a solid example of how artistic moments and creative occurrences engendered new repertoires of action such as the case of Standing Man (Derman 2017). Just like the Standing Man, a performance artist and activist, who offered an alternative performative action through his stand-in, numerous artists proposed various forms of creative actions both as artists and activists. While Turkey is going through authoritarianism and erosion of democratic principles for some time past, my first question arises regarding those artists: how are they confronting authoritarian state? This question matters and it is pertinent to the ongoing exile of scholars, journalists, intellectuals, business people, artists etc. Subsequently, what are the new strategies that they put into practice and spaces of action (if there is any) through which they are politically engaged? The investigation requires data collection through semi-structured interviews with several artist/activists who were engaged in Gezi Movement
Keywords: performativity, Turkey, creativity, autoritarianism
Pete Lampard (University of Manchester)
Cultural artefacts in movements
Abstract:
Session 4C in Room 9
Chair: Jane Duncan
James Simmons (California Institute of Integral Studies)
Rethinking Resistance: Strategies from the Outside
Abstract: This paper discusses possibilities for social change while analyzing resistance. It more specifically talks about rebellious spatial strategies inspired by folks in autonomous communities of struggle on the fringes of capitalism and the nation state. Tactics that are productive in bettering the circumstances of oppressed communities and go beyond traditional conceptions of resistance while pointing to new ways of efficiently creating meaningful change as well as adequately challenging power structures. It advocates new forms and conceptions of resistance that go beyond academic approaches of merely deconstructing or analyzing the concept itself, instead also illustrating ways of building a new tomorrow today that can also become a space for challenging capitalism and the state.
Keywords: Resistance, Autonomous Resistance, Social Change, Social Movements, Zapatismo.
Kenneth (Andy) Andrews (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill )
Cultural, Disruptive, and Organizational Sources of Movement Power
Abstract: The question of whether and how movements matter remains the most urgent and challenging for scholars and activists alike. Over the past two decades scholars have published numerous articles and books on the consequences of social movements. Most attention has been paid to policy consequences and to major movements in the U.S. and Europe, although there has been increasing focus on the economic, social, and cultural consequences of protest and movements. Despite this outpouring of work, we lack an overarching framework to synthesize and guide future scholarship and debate. I propose focusing on the sources of movement power and differentiating among cultural, disruptive, and organizational forms. Movements exercise cultural power when they shift or transform opinion, beliefs, values/moral categories, language and everyday behavior (practices). Disruptive power entails imposing constraints that make it more costly to support the status quo or ignore movement demands. Finally, organizational power is leveraged through the creation of durable forms and relationships that generate participation and leadership, facilitate interaction with external groups, and/or create counter-institutions. Each form of power has significant capacities but faces distinct vulnerabilities. I delineate these features by drawing on my own and others research to illustrate the insights that can emerge from this framework. While scholars and movement actors sometime focus narrowly on one source (or even one tactic), I argue that movements generate the most far-reaching changes through the complementary of cultural, disruptive, and organizational power.
Keywords: social change, consequences, success, strategy
Olga Zelinska (Polish Academy of Sciences)
How the Social Movement Actors Assess Social Change: An Exploration of the Consequences of Ukraine’s Local Maidan Protests
Abstract: Social movements aim to change specific aspects of society and researchers have long considered the question of how to assess contention’s immediate outcomes and broader social consequences. In this paper, I contribute to arguments that, to assess the potential change created by social movements, we need qualitative studies of the social movement actors who attempted to change their society. I explore the outcomes of the Maidan social movement in Ukraine, 2013-2014. The movement in Kyiv grew into a nation-wide contention, led to the resignation of the president and new parliamentary elections, and was followed by a military conflict in the east of the country. Relatively understudied are the dozens of local Maidans in Ukraine’s cities, towns and villages that, during those three winter months, issued own demands to local and national authorities. I present the results of a pilot study that aimed to understand, from the participants' point of view, what the outcomes of local Maidans were. In order to capture the impact of protest at the local level I analyzed a) the primary documents issued by protest assemblies in four Ukrainian localities during November 2013-February 2014, and b) held 24 face-to-face interviews with 33 Maidan activists, representatives of local authorities and observers in these four communities during September-November 2018. I compare four case studies on local Maidan’s impact, including both immediate outcomes and long-term social changes, as seen by activists and observers. I pay specific attention to the local-level political opportunity structures (POS) and social movements organizations’ (SMO) strength, which conditioned protest dynamics and outcomes. I found that the key outcomes of local Maidans concerned changes in the local political elites. Broader outcomes of protests included a move towards greater transparency and accountability in policy-making.
Keywords: social movements, protest, Maidan, Euromaidan, Ukraine, social movement outcomes.
Session 4D in Room 3
Chair: Natalia Miranda
Hector Rios (UCL)
Neoliberalism and its discontent. Finance policy and student protests in English Higher Education 2012-18.
Abstract: From the perspective of the political economy, the paper analyses the relationships between changes in university student funding policy and contentious student activity in England between 2012 and 2018. The text argues that after the wave of student protests 2010-11, student organisations have been highly fragmented and ineffective coordinating significant oppositions to the major changes implemented by the Higher Education and Research Act in 2017. This political path is analysed from the consequences that 2012' reforms had over the positionalities of students in the HE system. Under the policy regimen pre-2012, universal fees and public grants provide a common political economy position to the student body, which facilitates its political articulation and shared moral economy. The transition to a system of variable fees, with selective grants and a fragmented loan system, split the common position of the students, facilitating its division and the enaction of new agencies and axis of identification which dilute the architecture of student commonality. Those change facilitated the articulation of a highly diversified and competitive student body, with reduced political opportunities for organisation, engagement and intervention in the policy-making processes. Those factors help to explain how despite the radicalisation of neoliberal policies in the HE not major waves of protests have performed after the 2010-11's wave. The intervention finishes reflecting on the limitations that the explanatory theories of 2010 student protests in England have to understand the developing links between neoliberalism and contentious activity in the higher education field, and the new dilemmas that face the development of a critical political economy approach to social movements in Higher Education.
Keywords: Neoliberalism, higher education, student movements, political economy
Josh Bunting (University of Manchester)
Identity in the 2010-11 UK Student Movement: Formation, Abeyance and Evolution
Abstract: I am currently half-way through the first year of my PhD research, and this paper will discuss my ideas and plans going forward. Doug McAdam (1988) described the transformational effect that the Freedom Summer campaign had on its participants. McAdam suggested that the intense experience of high-risk activism had a profound effect on participants, and set them on a path of life-long dedication to activism. My research will explore whether McAdam’s observations are replicated among activists who participated in the 2010-11 student movement in the UK. It will also explore this experience in more detail, investigating the construction of activist identity, and the maintenance and evolution of this identity over time. The limited existing literature on the movement alludes to its impact on a wider anti-austerity movement in the UK, and many activists describe the experience as deeply meaningful. The movement also presents a challenge to dominant strands of social movement theory. Participants’ motivations appear more altruistic than rational actor approaches allow for; there is little evidence for a change in the political opportunity structure and there was a dual commitment to explicitly political issues and lifeworld issues. This study will represent a significant intervention in the field of social movement theory, investigating the 2010-11 UK student movement as an event, the collective identity emerging from it as a developing activist culture, and the cohort involved as a vector in the political landscape of the UK.I am developing an innovative collaborative methodology for this study, involving an interactive session with a large group of activists, and follow up life history interviews with individuals. This will create a dynamic view of the relational nature of identity and, by engaging in a dialogue on the meaning of the movement to its members, it will create a powerful account of activists’ agency.
Keywords: Student movement, identity, agency, life history
Zheng Zhou (University of Manchester)
Obstacles of Recruitment in an Authoritarian State: Student Participation in Shenzhen Jasic Incident
Abstract: China, an authoritarian state, indicates different political opportunities in social movements. The number of protests keeps increasing in China these years, while local protests are regarded as disruptive power, and the interactions between claimants and targets are interpreted as a labour-capital contradiction. Meanwhile, the recruitment in social movements is a critical process, numerous social movements research focus on the explanation of successful recruitment, while the obstacles of participation are somewhat ignored. The case study of Jasic Incident in Shenzhen, China shows that the cross-boundary intervention of university student activists precipitates the incident becomes a significant movement. In this incident, students are considered as prospective participants, especially in those universities where their alumni went to Shenzhen to protest. However, only a small number of students were recruited to protest, and most of them joined the group at the beginning of the incident. Based on the interviews with college students in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong and archived documents, the paper explores the obstacles of recruitment participation among college students. The findings suggest that the censorship imposed by targets deters the diffusion of information to the public, and the actions of students are significantly constrained by relational repression. Concerning the interaction between challengers and public, the manipulation of Marxism prevents more students participating in the protest due to ideological exclusion, and the short-surviving information of repression generates a deterrent force in the cost-effect evaluation. The arguments show common features produced by the interaction among the three parties result in obstacles of recruitment which reduce the possibility of participation. Since the problems are not unique in the Jasic Incident, the findings are expected to shed light upon obstacles of recruitment student movements confront in China
Keywords: Student Participation, China, Recruitment and Commitment
1 - 2pm
Hot lunch in The Mumford Restaurant
2 - 3.30pm
Simultaneous Session 5
Session 5A in Room 4/5
Chair: Noémi Shirin Unkel
John Charlton (North East Labour History Society)
The Wind from Peterloo
Abstract: The Peterloo Massacre of August 1819 has long been in the pantheon of radical history. It has received deserved attention in Mike Leigh’s exciting movie. What is less well known is the scale of popular protest across Britain which immediately followed the event. One of the largest protests was the Reform Demonstration of October 1819 in Newcastle upon Tyne when The Timesreported a gathering of 100,000 people. Strangely it has never merited more than a line or two in even regional histories. This paper, The Wind from Peterloo, seeks to trace the debate which preceded it, its assembly, the numbers claimed, its participants and their ideas, the response of the local and national state and its fate in historical accounts
Laurence Cox (National Univ. Ireland Maynooth)
Facing down the empire: a 1911 sedition trial in Rangoon
Abstract: On Friday, January 13th, 1911, the bazaars of colonial Rangoon closed down and “men women and children” pulled a gaily decorated cart containing Buddhist monk U Dhammaloka to the Chief Court for his appeal against his conviction for sedition. In the face of extensive popular mobilisation, the trial date was postponed and the eventual sentence restricted to binding over to keep the peace. Dhammaloka – an Irish-born sailor, hobo and “poor white” – was a thorn in the side of the colonial establishment across Asia. By 1911 he was a celebrity preacher who drew mass audiences across Burma and confronted empire, Christianity and western culture; a skilful organiser active in today’s Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and present from Japan to Sri Lanka; had initiated a tradition of confrontation which became central to Burmese anti-colonialism; had successfully challenged official corruption and abuses; and distributed vast numbers of anti-missionary pamphlets drawing on western free thought. Using material from a ten-year research project, this paper explores the context of Dhammaloka’s sedition trials to understand the “uneven and combined” politics of resistance and repression in late colonial South and Southeast Asia, drawing on elements of the “new subaltern studies” approach. In particular it discusses his 1909 tour of Ceylon, in which police, government agents, legislators and the colonial press mobilised against his collaboration with local radicals; the support he received from the direct action wing of the Indian National Congress in a period of repression; alliances between Muslim dockworkers, the Chinese diaspora, Burmese peasants and the urban middle class; a forgotten radical newspaper; a 1911 proto-extradition attempt, a faked death and Dhammaloka’s final disappearance. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
Keywords: social movements, subaltern studies, colonialism, Burma, Buddhism, Asian Studies
Neil Ketchley (KCL)
Telegraphing Revolt: Protest Diffusion During the 1919 Egyptian Revolution
Abstract: It is fashionable to emphasize how the internet has enabled the rapid diffusion of protest. This paper explores to what extent telegraph, postal, railway, and road networks shaped protest diffusion in the early twentieth century. The argument is illustrated with the case of Egypt during the 1919 Revolution, when anti-British protests broke out across the country in just a few days. Matching event data derived from Arabic-language newspapers and colonial security reports with geo-referenced maps, the paper shows how the country's communications infrastructure facilitated the rapid spread of protest in a semi-agrarian context characterized by political disorganization. Protest also diffused faster to areas with more students and professionals. These findings point to the enduring role of communications infrastructure in processes of protest diffusion -- and highlight the potential uses of historic GIS in the study of revolutionary mobilization
Keywords: Diffusion, infrastructure, revolution, Egypt, 1919 Revolution, MENA
Thomas Brodahl (University of Oslo)
Understanding Youth Revolts, Oslo 1978–1984
Abstract: Between the years of 1978 and 1984 on the evening before May 1, violent confrontations took place between youth and police in the city of Oslo. These events, as well as similar events in other Norwegian cities, led to a public discussion in Norway on urban youth problems and how they should be handled. The immediate government reaction was to let the police handle such situations when they arose. However, in 1981, after the fourth consecutive year of confrontations that steadily grew in size, the government funded a sociological research project aimed at better understanding the protesting youth and later budgeted 220 million kroner in total to fund various measures aimed at alleviating youth problems. This paper give an overview of the riots. Furthermore, it looks at the perceptions and definitions put forward by politicians and researchers, and in what ways they shaped the policy-making that followed. Through the study of research reports, newspapers, government reports and a cabinet white paper on youth, I examine how the definition and framing of the youth riots influenced the perceived urgency of the situation, as well as the relevancy of different explanations and solutions. I argue that the perception of the riots changed from them being described as instances of “mass psychosis”, to being described as resulting from the social and economic difficulties of the youths and being seen as being part of a broader European youth revolt. This change in perception was in a large part based on the findings of the state funded research project and a state Ministers engagement in the case. It also had a significant impact on the policy-making that followed. Leading to the increase in youth policy spending, which sought to provide housing and work for youths in the hope of alleviating youth problems in Oslo and in the country at large.
Keywords: Youth Riots, Social Science, Youth Politics, 1980’s, Oslo, Norway.
Session 5B in Room 8
Chair: Claire Jin Deschner
Clark Randall & Mihir Sharma (University of Bayreuth)
In Search of Lost Futures of “Ferguson" and “Stockley": Narrativization of Collective Memory of Protest in St. Louis
Abstract: Three years after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown incited the uprising in Ferguson in 2014, protests erupted again in 2017 in the region as SLMPD officer Jason Stockley was acquitted in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith in the winter of 2011. Similar to “Ferguson”, a new series of protests were articulated as “Stockley”; led in part by diverse groups of activists, elected officials, and clergy - many of whom were on the streets of St. Louis County in 2014. Since then, both “Ferguson” and “Stockley” have become commonplace signifiers as well as symbols for a range of actors - activists, non-profit organizations, politicians, potential candidates for office, police and law enforcement, as well as residents of the region. This paper examines how the contested memorialisation of “Ferguson” and “Stockley” - as events, as virtual index (e.g.hashtags), as place-making for a politics of the “local”, and as symbols for long-term, insidious processes of structural inequality were mobilized in contemporary political discourse leading up to city council elections in 2019. We seek to investigate the question: How does the reference to and instrumentalization of particular narratives of “Ferguson” and “Stockley” mediate, preclude, and make possible collective political visions for the future? Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the St. Louis metropolitan area, as well as archival and media research, we examine the highly contested attempts at collectivizing the narrative of “Ferguson” by activists, elected officials, and clergy. The creation, contestation, and subsequent narrativization of “Ferguson” is interpreted through relational topological analyses and a material semiotic framework.
Keywords: Ferguson, memory, inequality, discourse, protest, narrative
David Ralph (Trinity College Dublin)
Overcoming Stigma: The Success of the Repeal Campaign
Abstract: On 25 May 2018 the Irish electorate voted by a landslide to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. This amendment, dating back to 1983, enforced a near-total ban on abortion in Ireland. In what was seen as a remarkable reversal of this anti-reproductive rights legislation, Ireland’s longstanding ban on abortion was overturned, and with it the threat of a fourteen-year prison sentence for carrying out the procedure. The Irish pro-choice movement has been in existence for decades. But what kick-started the remarkable successful of the recent Repeal campaign was the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar of septicaemia in an Irish hospital in October 2012. Ms Halappanavar, carrying an unviable foetus, was refused a termination because the foetus still had a heartbeat. Public outrage at the details of Ms Halappanavar’s tragic, gruesome and unnecessary death was palpable. In this paper I argue that, following Ms Halappanavar’s death, a wide array of pro-choice social movements unprecedentedly harnessed the power of women’s personal testimonies to soften public attitudes towards abortion. Rather than appealing to obtuse legal or medical argument in favour of the gynaecological procedure, or making abstract political claims for individual rights to privacy, it was women’s storytelling around why they sought abortions that served to shift the public mood decisively on the abortion issue. Foregrounding the multitude of motivations for why women in all social locations want or need to terminate wanted or unwanted pregnancies, the interpretative repertoire available to discuss abortion expanded enormously in this short time period. From an experience that was long shrouded in silence and stigma to one which women now openly discussed in public, in the media and online, this transformation in public discourse was remarkable. This paper traces this discursive transformation “from a whisper to a shout” in the period 2012-2018.
Keywords: abortion; reproductive rights; stigma; discourse analysis
Elizabeth Whelehan (University of Liverpool)
How did performances of gender reflect and produce power relations within the British Black Power Movement between 1965-1974?
Abstract: This paper contributes to the scholarly discourse surrounding the British Black Power Movement (BBPM). The BBPM was an integral part of a transnational struggle for Black liberation. However, studies concerning British racism and the resistance to it consistently omit a detailed discussion of the BBPM. I argue that Black Power also presented activists with a platform through which notions of Black masculinity and femininity could be reconstructed. Through the examination of methods utilised by both male and female activists to reimagine and reconstruct gender identities, new light can be shed upon power relations within social movements that mobilize around ethnic minority identities. This study reveals how gendered performances were crucial in attempts by male activists to restore patriarchal authority. Moreover, representing an almost forgotten aspect of Black British activism, this paper highlights how female activists fought back against patriarchal attitudes designed to curtail their activities. Black Power women adopted a militant identity which, in its rejection of European beauty ideals and traditional feminine stereotypes, legitimised them as the revolutionary equal to their male counterparts.
Keywords: British Black Power, patriarchal masculinity, gender identities, Black manhood, Feminism.
Meghan Tinsley (University of Manchester)
Constructing and Contesting the Post-Apartheid State: Political Discourse and the Marikana Strike
Abstract: In August 2012, the police massacre of thirty-four workers during a strike in Marikana, South Africa highlighted the interconnectedness of political power, state violence, and capitalism. The episode evoked the memory of Sharpeville, leading many to question whether the plight of the most marginalised had improved in the post-apartheid era. In the immediate aftermath of the massacre, the National Union of Miners denied any association with the striking workers, the ANC government labeled them as 'criminals', and police arrested survivors for the 'murder' of their comrades. Media outlets repeated police accounts of the massacre uncritically. Yet despite the absence of institutional support, public sympathy coalesced around the striking miners, and in the ensuing months, a wave of cross-sectoral militant strikes spread across South Africa. Taking as its starting point the unlikely success of the Marikana strike, this paper asks how the state attempted to restore its moral authority amidst a leaderless, grassroots social movement. I conduct a critical political discourse analysis of President Jacob Zuma's references to Marikana between 16 August 2012, when the massacre took place, and 25 June 2015, when he released the Farlam Commission's final report. I argue, drawing from critical realism, that the power of Zuma's discourse lies not in the text itself, but in the speaker’s intentions, the audiences’ interpretations, and the public’s responses. This framing reveals the systems of domination underlying all discourse, such that varied, malleable concepts produce visible, violent social structures. I find that Zuma, faced with comparisons to the apartheid regime, sought to represent the ANC government as both the voice of the oppressed and an impartial mediator between competing narratives. Ultimately, his conciliatory approach failed to address the strikers' grievances; this created a vacuum in political discourse that was filled anti-capitalist, anti-state violence voices from below.
Keywords: South Africa, protest, political discourse, critical realism
Session 5C in Room 9
Chair: Simin Fadaee
Maria Langa (Uppsala University)
Seasons and the speed-up: Cyclical temporality as resistance in Sweidsh urban gardening
Abstract: In a world marked by an accelerated, productivity-oriented pace, the sun, the seasons and the cycles of life in plant growth are a mere background in urban dwellers’ everyday lives. The “speed-up” has even hit agriculture, where these cycles have been artificially enhanced for the sake of production. Urban gardeners, however, bring traditional growing methods back into the city and with them, nature’s tempo. In this article, I draw on a three year study of Swedish urban gardening to analyze the framing of the practice’s temporality as a form of resistance. In their narratives, gardening practice introduces a cyclical temporality that slows the pace of urban dwelling. Growing plants and vegetables is a return to a more “natural” rhythm for food, but also for human life and experience. The practice of gardening, then, emerges as a form of resistance through the assertion of control over an increasingly alienated aspect of experience: time.
Niccolò Bertuzzi (Scuola Normale Superiore)
The challenges of the Italian environmental movement(s) within the European market democracy
Abstract: During recent years, Italian social movements have been experiencing a period of crisis, also because of diffuse anti-political feelings and latency of social conflict. However, environmental issues remained relevant phenomena due to the appearance of new contentious actors, the permanence of long-standing organizations and the development of grass-roots local mobilizations. (Some of) these collective actors have been able to bridge local issues with global perspectives in anti-capitalist way; some others preferred classical lobby activities and the institutional action at different government levels (local, national, transnational). Basing on 19 semi-structured interviews with key-activists and on the analysis of web documents produced by groups and organizations, in this paper the focus will be on the different visions of Europe among the variegated sectors of the Italian environmental archipelago, following Diani’s definition. The possible distinctions within the environmental arena are numerous. I here limit to dichotomize the field in a classic way between the traditional perspectives of the formal NGOs and those of environmental justice, focusing in particular on the Locally Unwanted Land Use (LULU) mobilizations and some other political ecology groups. I argue that these two very different movement sectors not only differ according to single claims, strategies and visions of Europe, but also propose two radically different democratic paradigms that I propose to call, respectively, democratic ecology and ecological democracy. With the first label (democratic ecology) I mean a conception of ecology as subordinated to, or at least unthinkable outside, the (Western) representative democracy; with the second one (ecological democracy) a conception of democracy as effective only if based on ecological premises and perspectives. In the article I look at these two visions of Europe and democracy, considering in particular two dimensions, frames and actions, in order to analyse how different ideas and perspectives on Europe are translated in practice.
Keywords: environmental activism, Europeanization, democracy, political ecology.
Peter Somerville (University of Lincoln)
Climate justice and Extinction Rebellion
Abstract: As global temperatures rise and the need for mitigative action becomes increasingly urgent, the world’s governments continue to prevaricate and procrastinate. While most people either maintain an attitude of naïve optimism or fall into a hopeless pessimism or fatalism, others grow increasingly impatient. Driven by rage against the social system that has brought us to this state, and by grief for both the human and non-human life that has already been lost and will be lost, a rich variety of forms of collective action has arisen and is beginning to make a difference across the planet. This paper makes a modest attempt to document some of these forms of action and to assess their potential for future growth. In particular, it focuses on Extinction Rebellion (XR), because of the latter’s emphasis on a new kind of politics, involving forms of non-violent direct action and civil disobedience. It will place XR within a tradition of ‘non-violent revolt’ (Engler and Engler, 2016) and show how XR is a concrete example of a politics that ‘leads toward the Earth and not toward the global or the national’ (Latour, 2017).
Keywords: climate, non-violent, rebellion
Will Jackson (Liverpool John Moores)
Securing Extraction: Policing anti-fracking protests in England.
Abstract: This paper considers the policing of protests against hydraulic fracturing – better known as ‘fracking’ – in England between 2013 and 2019. Drawing upon ethnographic research with anti-fracking protest groups, the paper aims to understand the ways in which the state and the nascent onshore oil and gas industry have sought to counter opposition to the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels. Considering the legal strategies employed by both the state and corporations to curtail protest, as well as the exercise of police violence, the paper reflects on the ways in which movements are responding to the exploitation of natural resources and the security measures employed to counter opposition. The paper also considers how definitions of legitimate protest have been (re)defined through recent changes to police policy and practice. Through a critical analysis of police definitions of acceptable protest, the paper reflects on the impact this has for the development of opposition to fracking and the wider implications for popular protest in the UK. In doing so, the paper seeks to explore the historical continuities in strategies used to pacify those movements who seek to challenge state power and the violence of capital.
Keywords: protest, fracking, police, law.
Session 5D in Room 3
Chair: Aylwyn Walsh
Ben Trott (Leuphana University)
Rethinking “Identity Politics” and Social Movements
Abstract: In recent years, numerous social movement scholars and others have debated the relationship between the current rise of the right, on the one hand, and, on the other, the greater attention that has supposedly been paid by social movements on the left, since the 1980s, to issues of “culture” and “identity” relative to those of class and (economic) inequality. Albeit advancing very distinct arguments, and drawing differing conclusions, this question is addressed in: Nancy Fraser’s indictment of “progressive neoliberalism”; Arlie Russel Hochschild’s study of “the fear of cultural eclipse” (as well as economic decline) by those on the American right; Mark Lilla’s claim that a post-1968 rise in “identity consciousness” has corresponded to a decline in “political consciousness”; and Didier Eribon’s discussion of the abandonment of the working class in France by parties, movements and theorists on the left. This paper critically contributes to these debates. It refutes the frequent framing of “identity politics” as pre-occupied with particular rather than (purportedly) universal concerns, and argues that social movements invested in a progressive path out of the current political economic, social and ecological crises must develop a new form of identity politics, understood in two discreet senses that must nevertheless become urgently combined. The first must be geared towards producing a collective identity – through common practices and discourses – that allows all those whose (waged and unwaged) labour is exploited by capital, directly or indirectly, to recognize one another as such, and to affirm their shared interests. The second must challenge the ways that various axes of social difference produce particular forms of marginalisation and domination for some subjects, and in ways that are at once functional to capital accumulation while, nevertheless, not being reducible to this function. This paper addresses how this might be done.
Ibalu Alba Dwan
Anarchism as Desire: Anti-Authoritarian Networks in Northern California's Bay Area.
Abstract: Since the beginning of the twenty-first century there has been a strong proliferation of struggles globally which have displaced the State and other dominant institutions as the main sites for social transformation. Instead of attempting to take power and impose a counter-hegemony, these struggles seek to organize themselves towards new social forms without the relations of domination and processes of exploitation inherent in the patriarchal-capitalist system. In much of the global North, these currents have an explicitly anarchist ethos rooted in direct action as a framework for a life reorientation, which occurs within a set of values that are antagonistic to the current social order. At the same time, as Subjects of the neoliberal project, activists tend to reproduce capitalist ways of relating based on neoliberal logics such as hyperindividualism and self-entrepreneurship which often undermine their efforts. Activists are actively engaged in the production of a (counter)culture whose tenets erode current structures of power and their practices also reflect the neoliberal order in which this production takes place. This paper is an exploration of how anarchist forms of resistance and neoliberalism as the culture of capitalism shape one another. Drawing mainly from ethnographic research that was carried out with anti-authoritarian networks in the United States' Bay Area between the spring of 2016 and winter of 2017, I offer a micro-political analysis of how these contradictions manifest-- particularly how individual forms of activism preclude the construction of social infrastructures which can meaningfully support people's participation. By tracing these struggles' discontinuities and continuities with neoliberal ideology, I not only seek to contribute to the growing body of literature about these movements, but also hope to open up a space to critically think with them in an act of deep solidarity.
Keywords: anarchism, social movements, neoliberalism, micro-politics, social transformation, culture of capitalism, United States
Lea Rzadtki (Leuphana University)
"We are all activists“ - a constructivist grounded theory exploration of activism by, with and for migrants in Hamburg
Abstract: ‘We are all activists’ is a dream, a promise and an illusion at the same time. While immigrant rights activism is not a new phenomenon and has long been studied, most attention has been paid to migration challenging democratic nation-states and formal citizenship debates. More recently, there has also been increasing interest in linking critical citizenship and social movement studies (cf. e.g. Ataç, Rygiel, & Stierl, 2016; Fadaee, 2015; Johnson, 2015; Marciniak & Tyler, 2014; Nicholls & Uitermark, 2017; Nyers & Rygiel, 2012). This working paper is part of my dissertation project, which is exploring the (self-)perceptions of activists in Hamburg through a constructivist grounded theory approach, and focuses on one analytical category. ‘We are all activists’ claims an overcoming of structural categorizations of people within the movement – it is what most activist groups in this context are aiming for. Even though structural differences and inequalities among activists exist, the idea is that they should not matter. However, even in progressive movements there are mechanisms that reproduce them. Immigrant rights groups are particularly heterogeneous. Next to having different legal statuses, socio-economic, cultural and political backgrounds, people also have other aims, interests and necessities. Dividing lines here intersect among others gender, race, resources, language skills, education or experience. This makes it much harder for these groups to come and work together on equal terms. Nevertheless, my research shows that there is also a lot of reflection about acknowledging power and privilege while working on inclusion and empowerment. This working paper brings together the first empirical and theoretical insights from my research in Hamburg with existing scholarship on social movements and immigrant rights activism which has so far paid relatively little attention to internal dynamics of domination and empowerment within activist groups
Keywords: immigrant rights activism, citizenship, political agency, solidarity, empowerment
Samuel Udogbo (National Univ. Ireland Maynooth)
Participatory Action Research: A Reflective Essay on my Fieldwork Experience in Ogoni, Nigeria.
Abstract: This essay is a reflection of my six months fieldwork experience amongst the marginalised Ogoni people, especially with the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). The phenomenon of marginalisation created by Shell and the Nigerian Government is characterised by the prevailing socio-economic and political inequalities in Ogoni. As with other marginalised societies, the Ogonis, through MOSOP, are is in search for justice. Thus, the essay briefly gives an account of the relationship between Shell/Nigeria and the Ogoni social movement-MOSOP. Based on the on the context established, Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology was adopted since the idea of linking research and action is crucial as regards personal and social change; it gives space and voice to marginalised groups. Thus, the essay presents my experience with PAR methodology on the field; the value of its participative, qualitative and cyclical features. It looks at my basic assumptions that were reflect upon before, during and after the research: my role as a researcher; participants’ perceptions and ability to tell their stories; and benefits for both participants. Despite the methodological limitations, the empirical evidence shows how it is necessary to build a social movement that is constructive and grounded in respectful relationships between individuals, groups and society.
3.30 - 4pm
Refreshments in The Hub
4 - 6pm
Simultaneous Session 6
Session 6A in Room 4/5
Chair: Laurence Cox
Aylwyn Walsh (University of Leeds)
Performing at the crossroads: Justice, rights and Tshisimani’s tactical vision of alternative futures
Abstract: Global social justice movements, including those focused on land rights, people organising against systemic racism and in decolonisation movements, and those working on labour rights draw on long histories and trans-cultural protest movements. Activism’s geographic grammars have included mapping alliances across contexts and organising skills sharing beyond local conditions (Bogad, 2016). Performance, on the other hand, enables crucial use of aesthetics, play and innovation in the field and in scholarly dissemination. Drawing on an emerging dialogue with Tshisimani (activist educators in South Africa), this presentation concerns popular protest movements in South Africa and the role of performance in such protests. Grassroots activism in South Africa remains focused on conscientisation and rights education. RhodesMustFall and other related protest movements in South Africa moved beyond student activist circles. At this historical moment, land rights/ decolonisation is the background that frames and forms the optics for the issues to be explored. Scholarly work about activism is often predicated on historicising European practices, despite many significant movements emerging from the Global South, as explored in Paul Routledge’s latest work Space Invaders: Radical Geographies of Protest (2017). This work envisions an alternative future in which marginalised voices and experiences are staged as central to the concerns of popular protest movements in South Africa. Cape Town- based organisation Tshisimani highlights the value and the values of the arts that enables a particular way of learning about and through activism. Human geography and performance studies come together in dialogue. Both disciplines engage in processes of thinking through spatial, embodied practices that firstly constitute understanding of worlds, and secondly represent experiences of worlds. Together, they enable rigorous consideration of the tactics of activism.
Keywords: Activist education; performance; land rights; tactics
Geoffrey Pleyers (Université Catholique de Louvain)
Social movements and the war of Gods in Brazil. From liberation theology to a neo-Pentecostal president.
Abstract: The sudden move from a Brazil dominated by the Workers Party to a country led by an extreme-right, racist and misogynous President is in part the outcome of another shift that took place in the 1980s: the attacks on liberation Christanity and concomitant arrival of neo-Pentecostal churches. Liberation Christianity, and in particular its ecclesiastic base communities, have acted as popular and political education groups from which a new militant culture and thousands of activists have emerged, contributing to the deep transformation political, social and cultural of Brazil between 1980 and 2016. In the 1980s, the conservative turn in the Vatican led to a series of attacks against liberation theology and their grassroots communities who were concentrated in the favelas and working class areas. The impact of this turn was little visible in Brazilian political arena in the following decades, as formed activists kept their progressive commitments in laid organizations, parties and movements. On the long run however, its impact has been devastating. The conservative actors in the Vatican simultaneously blocked the source of progressive culture and the formation of actors from working class areas who had transformed Brazil, and left a vast space for the conservative evangelists in the working class areas which have now become one of the main sources of recruitment of militants and voters for Jair Bolsonaro. This article makes a plea for a better articulation of the sociology of religions and the sociology of social movements by paying more attention to religious movements, whether progressive or conservative, and to their interactions with social movements. Brazil reminds us of the whole importance of the “War of the Gods”. It also demonstrates that one should not confuse the front lines of this war with those of religions and religious organisations. Religions are both participants in the battle and are themselves divided by it. An essential part of the struggle has played out within the Catholic Church. Its 1980s conservative shift succeeded in weakening Liberationist Christianity and led to the desertion of numerous working-class areas, leaving the field to the evangelical churches, to the stifling of progressive actors, the legitimating of conservative ideas and the rise in power of moral themes mainly associated with sexuality, rather than social justice.
Kai Heidemann (Maastricht University)
Pedagogies of Positioning: Social Movements, Popular Education and Strategic Solidarities in the Belgian Rust-Belt
Abstract: In this paper I elaborate on the concepts of stance-taking and solidarity in order to scrutinize the strategic place of popular education in social movements. In particular, I consider how formalized spaces of popular education can act as important mobilizing structures for progressive social movements working to transcend the multiplicity of crises generated by neoliberal capitalism. Attention is placed on how sites of popular education can channel people’s grievances toward the cultivation of solidaristic stances and how these stances help social movement agendas and campaigns attain an agentive presence in society. Drawing on preliminary findings from a new ongoing project, I focus on the case of a popular education initiative operating across nine sites in the post-industrial landscape of francophone Belgium or ‘Wallonia’. Working from a praxeological perspective, I look at how the actors affiliated with this popular education initiative have worked with diverse sectors of the Belgian populace (e.g. blue- and white-collar workers, school-teachers, the un[der]emplyed, youth, pensioners, undocumented migrants) to craft counter-hegemonic processes of collective learning and knowledge production. While this organization was originally founded within a context of radical labor unionism during the 1970s, in more recent years it has sought to expand its base so as to include a broader range of agendas linked to unemployment, migrant rights, feminism, and environmental justice. Ultimately, my paper draws on the nuances of the Belgian case in order to elaborate more broadly on how the intersubjective stances and solidarities produced through sites of popular education can contribute to the strategic capacities of progressive social movements in times of entrenched crisis.
Keywords: Popular Education, Solidarity, Strategy, Belgium, Social Movement Theory
Paul-Francois Tremlett (The Open University)
Sovereignties and Disruptions: Assemblages and Religious and Socio-Political Change
Abstract: In this paper I approach religious and socio-political change with Deleuze and Guattari’s conception of the assemblage. Rejecting the dialectic of town and countryside in accounts of religion and rebellions in the Philippines, I propose a non-linear account of Filipino history. As such, I identify instead three Filipino assemblages which I call the (i) church-plaza assemblage, (ii) the Banahaw assemblage and (iii) the media-church assemblage. Each assemblage routes spatial flows of ideas, bodies and objects in specific ways, from the tightly regulated, gendered and racial flows of the Spanish walled town to the counter-flows of religion in mountain groves and on to contemporary flows of mass-mediated worship in new physical and virtual spaces. The suggestion is that each assemblage is a kaleidoscopic transformation of the other. This move enables us to envision social and political change in new ways, in particular by allowing an account of religious and socio-political change to emerge that dispenses with the human subject, a move with significant consequences for understanding religions and social movements, rebellions and revolutions.
Session 6B in Room 8
Chair: Neil Ketchly
Ahmed Saleh (Freie Universitat Berlin)
Midans as Political Actors: The Mohammed Mahmoud Battle and the Post-Mubarak Egyptian Revolution
Abstract: The Egyptian revolution of 2011 is one in which squares/mayadin, as a politicized space and process, play a central role. The revolution was founded in a midan, the famous “18-day” Tahrir sit-in, and ended in one, Rabaa. I argue that the mayadeen in the Egyptian revolution are not only temporal registers of events; they are constitutive of political identities, coalitions, agendas and practices, and they mark the important milestones in the political history of the revolution. I argue further that, among all the practices in the mayadeen (including protesting, sitting-in, etc.) clashing was the most intense practice, during which these political functions were most operational, visible and amenable to study. In this paper, I argue that the Mohammed Mahmoud midan of November 2011, and especially its clashes, is of comparable significance to the 18-days and Rabaa mayadeen. I study the affective arrangements of Mohammed Mahmoud by analyze the imagery, artistic representations, collective and individual performances, discourses around sensory perceptions of the frontline fight, as well as the battle’s changing representation and political function in its two subsequent anniversaries. I rely on hours of video footage, a dozen interviews with individuals with significant experiences in the clash (including ultras fighters, lawyers, therapists, ex-Member of Parliament, street artists, and videographers, among others). I conclude that Mohammed Mahmoud constituted the post-Mubarak “revolutionary” identity that contrasted in important ways with that of the 18-days. This revolutionary identity was disenchanted with institutional and electoral politics, and rather romanticized street action, especially clashes, and equated the latter with revolution. The midan of Mohammed Mahmoud influenced complicated and distinctive interactions with Islamists, national institutions, and eventually with the anti-revolution.
Keywords: space, time, squares movements, occupations, Arab spring
Dina El-Sharnouby (American University in Cairo)
The 2011 Egyptian Uprising and the Quest for Citizenship rights and Dignity: the political Imaginaries of Egyptian Revolutionary Activists
Abstract: What constitutes the political imaginary of revolutionary youth in Egypt? and how are those imaginaries reflected in chosen forms of organizations from political movements to political parties? are some of the questions this paper will discuss. Almost eight years after the Egyptian uprising in 2011, and the inability of revolutionary youth to propose an alternative socio-political system during the first two years of the political opening after toppling Mubarak in 2011, led many scholars to conclude that those revolts were merely a reformist quest for more meaningful forms of governance. Yet, the reformist trajectories of the 2011 event suggest a deeper probing of important questions in relation to social justice and human dignity that have ushered the socio-political imaginaries of revolutionary youth. This paper, based on fieldwork done in Egypt in 2015 with the leftist Bread and Freedom party and further substantiated with interviews in 2018 with revolutionary activists, asks what those sociopolitical imaginaries for change are among revolutionary youth? It puts to question what the hopes for reforms meant and how those have changed. Analyzing the most important political debates juxtaposed to the form of organization chosen by revolutionary activists, this paper argues that the political imaginary is not simply about democratization and reforms as such, but more so, a desire for human dignity and citizenship rights. Those imaginaries suggest a yearning to end with the colonial and postcolonial legacies and a wish for self-rule and direct political actions that ordinary Egyptians have been deprived of since national independence.
Keywords: Horizontal movements, Alain Badiou, event and subject, political imaginaries, Arab uprisings, Egyptian revolution
Jann Boeddeling (LSE)
From subaltern politics to revolutionary mass mobilization during the 2010/11 Tunisian Uprising
Abstract: Can larger episodes of contentious mobilization be co-created by, or even largely based on, subaltern groups acting according to their own political logics? The paper argues that this was indeed the case in the 2010/11 Tunisian Uprising. It presents original ethnographic material from the city of Kasserine in the interior of the country where a qualitative shift from sectorized and class-divided to mass mobilization occurred for the first time during the uprising. It shows that this transformation was brought about after protesters were killed in clashes between the police and youth from the city’s popular quarters who mobilized based on local solidarities as well as logics of defence and autonomy and without involvement of organized political groups. The activation of solidarities based on kinship and the shared experience of indiscriminate police attacks on funeral marches then resulted in cross-class mobilization, creating a new collectivity that united groups which had only mobilized separately before. Yet, neither mainstream social movement studies (SMS) nor much theory on everyday politics can help us understand these developments that would have significant consequences for the emergence of a revolutionary situation in Tunisia. SMS is too focussed on explaining mobilization through the development of more formally constituted and organized collectivities that mount challenges in the political field. For most of subaltern studies, forms of resistance and politics by these groups remain on the level of “quiet transgression” that avoids direct confrontation with the state. The paper argues that a methodological approach inspired by Strategic Interactionism’s focus on studying situated interactions combined with a broadly Marxist understanding of collective subject formation through Praxis and articulation is more fruitful. Through this, the paper seeks to contribute to understanding the potential role of subaltern politics in contentious mobilization while pointing to their limitations regarding questions of transformative social change.
Keywords: Subaltern politics; revolutionary situation; Praxis; Gramsci; Strategic Interactionism; Tunisia
John Chalcraft (LSE)
Revolutionary Agency in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011
Abstract: It is increasingly conventional to study the many failures and weaknesses of the revolutionary uprisings of 2011. To ‘think beyond’ (Cox and Nilsen) the present moment of ‘morbid symptoms’ (Achcar), however, and to learn a variety of activist lessons from 2011, it is still very much worth attempting to make sense of what it was that gave these uprisings their transformative force, insofar as it existed. We are now witnessing the first fruits of major research projects into the revolutionary process in 2011: detailed empirical work capable of greatly expanding and deepening our understanding (Abdelrahman, Alexander and Bassiouni, Allal, de Lellis, de Smet, Feltrin, Hmed, Ismail, Laveille, Pinilla, Pratt, Tripp, Yousfi inter alia). This paper draws on this work, and on postcolonial Gramscian theory, to explore how a diverse, inclusionary, articulation of subaltern struggles was effected in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011. It poses the question of how a revolutionary bloc was stitched together during the most transformative moments of the popular uprisings. The paper argues that the revolutionary bloc achieved unity in diversity through culture, understood as a ‘practical-critical activity’, including intellectual labour, the development and dissemination of conceptions of the world, and the related development of new forms of commitment, purpose, and collective will. The transformative capacity of the uprisings, their (truncated) ability to make history, stemmed fundamentally from an organic, culturally instantiated articulation of struggles. The paper underlines the importance of cultural leadership in the 2011 revolutionary process in the Middle East and North Africa. The wider ambition is to contribute to critical debates about revolutionary agency and the meaning of the ‘postcolonial Prince(ss)’ in the contemporary world. In drawing attention to cultural leadership, the paper suggests that in thinking revolutionary agency we look beyond proletariat, precarity, multitude, party, and horizontalist procedure alike.
Keywords: Gramsci, counterhegemony, Arab Spring; revolution; leadership; culture
Rima Majed & Mona Khneisser (American University of Beirut, Lebanon)
Popular Discontent and the Building of Alternatives in the Arab Region: An Analysis of Lebanon & Iraq
Abstract: The Arab uprisings resulted in the unexpected toppling of autocratic rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya and spread like wild fire to other Arab countries, such as Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. Yet, while the uprisings succeeded in unleashing social dynamics and claims that challenged entrenched interests and socio-economic inequalities, they fell short of fundamentally altering state power and guiding in meaningful socio-economic transformations (Bayat, 2017: 169). Building on extensive fieldwork in Iraq and Lebanon, this research seeks to understand the effect of rapid “post-war” neo-liberalization and sectarian political regimes on contemporary movements that attempt to challenge the system and envisage ‘alternatives’. These two countries represent important insights to the long plight of actors and organizations, yet have received very little scholarly attention, particularly given the complexity of the ‘power-sharing’ sectarian regimes people have been calling against in each of the two countries. The two countries witnessed parallel cycles of contention, erupting alongside the Arab uprisings in 2011, then re-emerging in 2015 and 2018. These movements brought to the fore people’s growing disdain of sectarian politics, rampant corruption and deteriorating social services and socio-economic conditions. Iraq and Lebanon share the dimensions of foreign invasion and influence, economic structural adjustment and neoliberalization, heightened NGO-ization of civil society, sectarian power-sharing systems promoted by Western powers, and mass political disaffection and distrust driven by environmental and socio-economic grievances. Building on extensive fieldwork in the two countries, this research is interested in studying the challenges facing political actors and movements since 2011 in their attempts to envisage or advance new repertoires of contention that identify with the people’s plight for ‘alternative’ lives in the Arab region. We seek to analyze these challenges in the context of the uncontested hegemony of neoliberalism and its impacts on preconfiguring actors’ fields of action and perception of contentious politics and social change. The analysis is situated within cross-cutting bodies of literature on sectarianism, social movements studies, political theory and political economy.
Keywords: Social movements, sectarianism, neoliberalism, post-politics, techno-moralism
Session 6C in Room 9
Chair: Will Jackson
Emily Westwell (Keele University)
Who is Hungry for Change? Conceptualising radical food activism in the global ‘North’ and its engagement with principles of social and environmental justice.
Abstract: With its origins in the International Peasant Movement La Via Campesina, the concept of ‘Food Sovereignty’ is increasingly being used by food activists in the Global North as a means to achieve ecologically sustainable and socially just system change. Yet, the implications, limitations and potential contradictions of applying the frame of food sovereignty to the developed urban environment remains largely understudied within critical geography. This is especially evident in looking at the emergence of grass-roots food sovereignty activism in the UK (an exception is Tornaghi, 2014). As such this paper will explore how food sovereignty activists are framing and shaping a narrative of social change within the UK, with particular emphasis on the treatment of social and environmental justice. Emphasizing the relationship between food sovereignty and justice principles feeds into a re-politicisation debate, which is interested in how food activism can potentially reproduce and fail to challenge the underlying causes of such inequality. In this sense, this paper asks if a food sovereignty frame is an effective means through which a socially just food system can be realized in developed, urban environments (see Fairbairn, 2012; Brent et al 2015). In exploring these issues, this paper will draw on conceptual understandings of food sovereignty and social justice whilst applying it to the UK context. In doing so, this paper will contribute to an understanding of the spatially diffuse nature of food sovereignty and inform debate on how it can promote social and environmental justice in the Global North.
Keywords: Radical Food Activism, Food sovereignty, Food justice.
John Haworth
Towards a coherent ecological alternative to neo-liberalism
Abstract: “In recent times, I’ve attended three meetings at my university, all of which recognised a crisis in neo-liberalism and arrived at a conclusion that the world faced a choice between a hard-line nationalistic neo-liberalism and some sort of unspecified alternative based on ideas such as universal basic income. In this presentation, I’d like to take this opportunity to develop this alternative as the beginnings of a coherent ecological alternative to neo-liberalism. This also addresses my concerns that social movements have long been associated with relatively small numbers of people confronting political authorities in short-term political struggles over such questions of fracking, austerity or military intervention, rather than a long-tern ideological struggle over the economic arrangements leading to these questions. This ecological alternative is based on four core categories. First, in steady-state economies, economic growth, global warming and climate change, are ended. Second, use values limit production to goods useful to whole communities and societies and economic indicators alternative to GDP set out to measure their benefits to these whole societies. Third, qualities of production are concerned with qualities, rather than quantities, of goods produced, and lead to debates over the lengths of working weeks and over systems of distribution such as universal basic income. Finally, ecological international relations seek to apply all this at a global level by developing ideas of optimal sizes of world regional economies such as the European Union, and contracting threshold hypotheses, where economic indicators alternative to GDP are used by specific industrial economies to limit their growth to goods useful to whole societies while less industrialised economies catch up”.
Keywords: utopias and experiments, ecological economics, steady-state economies, GDP, Universal Basic Income, international relations
Sara Fromm (Independent researcher)
Degrowth: a movement or a vision? Identifying barriers and potentials for a powerful agent of change for the socio-ecological transformation in Barcelona
Abstract: Our current economic system is inherently unsustainable. The ‘growth fetishism’ not only is the dominant paradigm of our economies, but goes way deeper into our understanding of how well-being is defined and can be improved. The concept of ‘degrowth’ tries to question this hegemony. However, so far, degrowth has not entered the public debate in a sufficient way. I argue that degrowth needs more insights in how to steer the transformation, besides the extensive research that has already been done on the question of “why degrowth?”. Drawing on the example of Barcelona, I identify social movements as the agent of change towards a socio-ecological transformation. I follow Erik Olin Wright’s concept of emancipatory social science and his call for ‘real utopias’, diagnosing that in the present day, there is no real degrowth movement in Barcelona, but rather a so-called ‘critical community’. I identify a strong degrowth movement in Barcelona as a desirable alternative to steer the socio-ecological transformation. Using mainly Felix Kolb’s ‘Partial theory of social movements’, I show its viability. Based on interviews with different scholars barriers to a degrowth movement are uncovered. I further analyze the potentials for the emergence of a degrowth movement in the political sphere. To overcome the existing challenges, I propose several leverage points including the formation of alliances to a broader movement which incorporates claims of redistribution to acknowledge the material needs of the people struggling in Barcelona in the present day.
Keywords: degrowth, social movements, real utopias, socio-ecological transformation, Barcelona
Simin Fadaee (University of Manchester)
The permaculture movement in India and its transformative potential
Abstract: In the context of ever-growing concerns about global warming, food and water shortage, and widening global inequalities, today more than ever it has become important to stress the legacy of solution-oriented social movements such as permaculture. Permaculture is an attempt to develop sustainable communities in harmony with natural ecosystems. Originating in Australia, it was initially considered a design system, but it has become a global social movement and it is practiced in different countries in various forms and at multiple scales. It is manifested in numerous networks of local practitioners, teachers, promoters, demonstration sites, organisations and magazines where various ideas and practices converge. In this paper I present original research and I show how the permaculture movement has manifested in India, a predominantly agrarian nation with a deepening agrarian crisis and a high level of poverty and environmental degradation. Moreover, this paper demonstrates that the diverse Indian actors and their strategies have clear linkages to the independence movement; they are influenced by the incomplete project of Indian liberal democracy; they operate on the sphere of civil and political society; and they engage middle and lower classes in a formal and informal political nexus.
Session 6D in Room 3
Chair: Madelaine Moore
Bruno Frère (University of Liege)
How to understand the capitalist contradiction within the solidarity economy social movement in France ?
Abstract: In this presentation, I will focus on the analysis of Boltanski’s pragmatic sociology who aims, as he says, “to take people’s argumentations seriously”. This pragmatic sociology allows us to find the “grammar” of the justifications used by activists to critique capitalism and to try to build an other kind of economy. But in a second time I will see that pragmatic sociology does not solve a last paradox: sometimes actors’ justifications are in contradiction with their practices. That’s why I completed French boltanskian pragmatism with phenomenology: actors can have contradictory behaviours, regarding justification. This does not mean that they are in the “illusio” (Bourdieu) of what they really do. This just means that they have to adapt their activities to the reality of the economy that is still a market economy with capitalist rules. Adapting their actions, they also know how much they look as “traitors”, betraying some crucial values of solidarity economy. As a conclusion I show why we still have to consider Bourdieu as one of the most important sociologists of the 20th century. We indeed need him in this time of “managerial domination” that works as if there were no social classes anymore. We must be aware of how we are dominated by all social structures, including structures of capitalism. But we also have to still aware to these paradigms, as French pragmatic sociology or phenomenology, which aim to find cleverness within the discourse of social actors themselves to help them to rationalise and galvanize their critics.
Keywords: Bourdieu, Boltanski, critical pragmatic sociology, solidarity economy, capitalism, contradiction
Dan Friedman (Castillo Theatre, New York City)
Building a Positive Alternative Amid a Failing World Order: The Strange Bedfellows of Postmodernism and Marxism
Abstract: For over four decades an alternative approach to social change has been growing in the United States—and beyond. Beginning with a base in New York City’s poor communities of color and building support among a broad range of social strata, this social change tendency has built youth programs, schools, a theater, social therapy centers, an international training and research enter, and an electoral reform organizations independent of the state—all funded by individuals and driven by volunteerism. These organizations and activities, which, taken together, describe themselves as a “development community,” provide, through praxis, an alternative to society’s dominant institutions (and ethos), alternatives that are designed to butt up against and directly compete with them. It is well established in six U.S. cities and emerging in hubs as diverse as Juarez/El Paso on the Mexican-U.S. border; Thessaloniki, Greece; London; Tokyo; Taipei, and rural Uganda. This development community is not primarily defined by ideology or determined by what it opposes or resists. It can best be understood by what it has built. Its values of cooperation (as distinct from competition) and collectively (as distinct from alienated individualism) have grown out of the activity of creating and sustaining organizations that address the interests and concerns of the people building them. It is this collective process that helps the individuals and groups involved to grow and develop—and what they develop is identity as change agents, a sense of their own collective power, creativity and connection to each other and the larger world. This talk, written and delivered by an activist involved in building the development community since 1981, will provide a brief overview of its history, unpack its postmodern Marxist methodology, and sketch out an analysis of its significance in a world in which international economies and political structures are failing.
Keywords: community, independence, collectivity, postmodern Marxism
Jacob Boult (University of Manchester)
Flexible work: tracing the ambiguity of a concept
Abstract: Flexible work and labour market flexibility are ambiguous and contested concepts, in themselves and in the relations between them. The first part of the paper seeks to draw out these conceptual ambiguities. First, by discussing a range of contrasting working practices commonly described as flexible, and second by demonstrating how the identification of flexible work with labour market flexibility is a false one. Given that flexible work is used to describe practices more often categorically separated across virtually the full range of working arrangements observed under contemporary capitalism (from any arrangement divergent from the ‘standard employment relationship’ to some practices within it, from flexible-precarious work to flexibility at worker-discretion) the meaningfulness of the concept is called into question. The first part of the paper begs the question, why have flexible work and labour market flexibility come to be ambiguous and contested concepts? Drawing primarily on the work of Nancy Fraser, Luc Boltanksi and Eve Chiapello an explanation is offered by framing the rise of flexibility in work and labour market policy as a response to, resignification and ultimate forsaking of two sets of bottom-up demands emanating from the Fordist era. These are worker’s demands for greater creativity in less hierarchical and bureaucratic organisations, and feminist critiques of the ‘male breadwinner model’. The paper closes with preliminary reflections on definitional approaches to disambiguating the more human working practices associated with flexibility at worker-discretion, from flexibility at firm-discretion. The paper presents work-in-progress toward a section of the theoretical framework of my PhD.
Keywords: flexible work, labour market flexibility, post-Fordism
Peter Funke (University of South Florida)
The Logic of Social Movement Politics: Mapping and Theorizing Social Movement Politics since the “Battle of Seattle”
Abstract: Recognizing the massive transformations in the global economy, this paper examines how the economic restructurings of the last forty years have impacted the “Logic of Social Movement-based Resistance.” At the foundation of this paper is the belief that logics of social movement-based struggles transform over time and in relationship to both the history of social movements as well as the respective material and technological base. In this sense, I argue that in the last 25 years (from the Zapatista to Occupy, and the “Arab Spring”) we have entered a new epoch of social movement organizing. This paper details the emerging characteristics of contemporary protests. As J.P. Diggins argues, “a generation is not simply a people coexisting in the same time period. What identifies a group as belonging to a particular generation are both a shared perspective on common historical problems and a similar strategy of action (1973 p. 18).” With this in mind, this paper develops a broad analysis of contemporary protests to understand the core dynamics that have emerged and see how they relate to transformations in capitalism, the state and new technology. I argue that we have entered a new phase that is deeply imprinted by neoliberal capitalism, new media and communication technologies, and changing role of the nation-state. This new phase, I hypothesis, is characterized by a movement meta-logic that has taken the shape of a globalized, digitized, radically democratic, network formation.

Wednesday 17th April

9 - 9.30am
Refreshments in The Hub
9.30 - 11am
Simultaneous Session 7
Session 7A in Room 4/5
Chair: Dan Friedman
Athanasios Tsakiris & Anna Koumantaraki (EKPA & University of Essex)
Labour unions and strikes in Greece under Syriza government
Abstract: Our aim is to analyze specific characteristics of the trade union movement during the rule of the country by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).What interests us above all is to analyze and explain the "withering" and "passivity" of peak trade unions in contrast to dynamics of many grassroots first degree unions and organizations that engage in strikes and other social movement events. We aim at assessing the new opportunities of overturning the anti-labor and anti-union mood increasingly prevailing for more than a decade. We shall also examine and describe the new union identities and strategies. In this effort, we will use both qualitative and quantitative methods. We will specifically focus on agency workers in banking sector and teachers in public education sector.
Keywords: Strike, labour, left, government, precarity
Kate Alexander (University of Johannesburg)
From 'Rebellion of the Poor’ to a revolution of the people?
Abstract: In 2010 I published an article entitled ‘Rebellion of the poor: South Africa’s service delivery protests - a preliminary analysis’. Somehow, it made a bit of an impact. I recently discovered it has more Scholar citations than any other published in African studies journals going back to 2006, and the notion of ‘rebellion of the poor’ was taken up by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and come community organisations. This paper revisits the original article and considers: ‘What happened next?’ In short, the rebellion continues, with more protests and a higher level of disorder than a decade ago. Moreover, the Marikana Massacre opened the vista of a parallel ‘rebellion of the workers’. Actually, there are probably twice as many labour protests as community protests, and, although an earlier claim that South Africa is the 'protest capital of the world’ requires some nuance, there is a consistently high level of resistance by international standards. In 2015 and 2016 there was an insurgent movement among students, so one can reasonably talk or a ’triple rebellion’. But, so far, there has been nothing approaching a revolution. Indeed, most commentators think the governing ANC will, again, win the national elections to be held in May, and may even win a majority of votes cast. How should we explain this paradox. The paper floats a number of possible factors. These include: partial victories; poverty in protesting communities; different relations to the means of protest; divisions and ideological weaknesses within the labour movement and opposition parties; disjuncture between protesting and politics; and social mobility. The paper has implications for historically high global inequality alongside ‘missing revolutions’, and, in this regard, relates to some work by Colin Barker.
Natalia Miranda (Université Catholique de Louvain)
You are the ones who know, we have the megaphone” Crossfertilization lessons from the movement against the private pension system in Chile
Abstract: This presentation aims to show how two different activist cultures within the movement against the private retirement model in Chile, can build an effective relationship and even start to change themselves, in order to produce a rich, complex and massive movement. On the one hand, I reveal a trade-union based activist culture, which performs as ‘the brain’ in the movement, bringing the knowledge, the experience, and the platform for organization. On the other hand, a citizen-driven activist culture, performing as ‘the megaphone’, which provides the communication channels from the digital world, the massiveness, and the resonance with a larger audience. By using some concrete examples about the organization and execution of the first national massive rally of the movement, also known as 24J (July 24, 2016), I argue that the process of meeting of these two activist cultures is essential, first of all, for a successful rally, and secondly, for the effective production of this social movement. This uncovers various problems, tensions, and finally, some learnings for surpassing them. In the end, both activist cultures become inextricably necessary for the movement, providing different approaches to its claims and the enemy, its tactics, its visions about the social and politics, providing a rich and unique collective critique to the Chilean model of society. This opens an interesting debate about to which extent social movements should -still only- rely in traditional organizations as trade-unions, or, if it is enough -as nowadays movements- to just build a movement from the cybersphere. I finally propose to discuss to go beyond a single-based approach which highlights just one angle, and rather consider an interdependent one.
Keywords: activist culture, trade-unions, internet, cross-mobilization, Chile
Session 7B in Room 8
Chair: Jann Boeddeling
Birgan Gokmenoglu (LSE)
Politics of Anticipation: Temporality and Social Movement Theory
Abstract: This paper engages with the question of coordinating action during transitional and politically volatile times, in high-stakes situations. The overarching argument is that temporality in general and future imaginings in particular have not been systematically mobilized as a necessary explanatory dimension of activism in social movement theory. I take grassroots activism in Istanbul, Turkey between 2017 and 2018 as a case in point, when a constitutional referendum and presidential/general elections took place, under the state of emergency, to institute a dictatorial regime. More specifically, I look at a local assembly that was established to campaign for the “no” vote against regime change in the referendum, and how it disintegrated at a time when coordinated action was perceived as the only viable strategy by the participants. Although social movement theory offers some explanations for this phenomenon such as political opportunities (McAdam, 1999), threats (Goldstone & Tilly, 2001), or strategic dilemmas (Jasper, 2006), it has largely overlooked future imaginings as a necessary temporal dimension that determines movement orientation and trajectories. Based on a total of 19 months of participant-observation supported by 47 in-depth, semi-structured interviews, I find that the disintegration of the assembly is best explained by the activists' competing interpretations and anticipations about the future. Using ethnographic field notes, I show how differences in temporal frameworks eroded the basis on which activists usually coordinated their next steps, leading to an unresolvable mismatch in expectations and hence, in action. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for social movement theory, and by extending the discussion to a potentially broader theorization of what I term “politics of anticipation”. As such, this study contributes both to the study of social movements and the emerging “sociology of the future” (Mische, 2009).
Keywords: Turkey, social movements, temporality, futures, coordinating action
Máté Szabó (Eötvös Loránd University)
Comparing Democratic Transition and Civil Society in Taiwan and Hungary
Abstract: Different starting points, similar processes and differentiated outcomes has to be identified comparing democratic transitions in East Central Europe and East and South Asia. There are under similar global challenges comparable, but different regional patterns of democratization developing. East Central Europe was economically marginalized during Communist times in the world economy, meanwhile some parts of Asia, as Taiwan and South Korea could be well integrated into the global wold economy under authoritarian rule. Europeanization and a general favourable external environment helped former Communist countries to be oriented towards Western type rule of law and democracy during the 90’s. Other external factors helped Third Wave democracies in Asia, especially South Korea and Taiwan by US-American economic, military and cultural partnerships to develop their human rights culture and democracy facing their totalitarian counterparts in PR China and North Korea. The very different positions Taiwan and Hungary have in their region recently are based upon different capacities of the transformation management since 1988-89. Taiwan could preserve its leading role and stable democracy despite of the thread to its sovereignty from the PR China. Hungary never had such an influential conflict partner and received security and welfare partnership from the EU lacking in the case of Taiwan. Security conditions of Taiwan were less, economic and social conditions were more favourable for democratization than in Hungary. Hungary had a forerunner position in democratization processes in the times of post-communist transition which get lost during the crisis and conflicts of the last decade since 2006 and especially since 2010. Despite of the fact that liberalization prepared the peaceful transition in both countries and resulted in similar processes of democratic consolidation in the 90’s, Hungary joined to the looser group of its region, and Taiwan is on the top of the winner countries of his region. Taiwan since the elections of 2016 started comprehensive reform processes toward more democracy, civil rights and rule of law. Hungarian development since 2010 elections is criticized by many external and internal analysis upon trends to illiberalism and hybridization. We may state that Western global concepts of democratization may help to identify similarities and differences , and compare stronger and weaker factors of democratic transitions in Asia and Europe under Third Wave democracies
Yun Tong Tang (University of Manchester)
Putting Political Activism in Time and Space: Understanding the Umbrella Movement through Global, Regional, and Local Time-spaces
Abstract: Recent studies about the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong have shown increasing interest in its temporal development. However, they have yet to consider time-space itself as conflictual and as a source of grievances in socio-political struggles. This paper takes the Umbrella Movement in 2014 as a case study and argues that we need to understand political activism by putting it in time and space at the global, regional, and local levels. By integrating temporal-spatial analysis with strategic interactive analysis, this paper shows that political actors at different scalar levels not only make strategic decisions according to certain temporal-spatial context but also attempt to produce or modify time-space to advance their goal. The emergence and the micro-dynamics (e.g. emotions, action repertoires) of the Umbrella Movement are hence a product of the battle among global, regional and local actors regarding time-spaces. While the rise of the Umbrella Movement was situated within the global wave of pro-democracy mobilization since 2011, the influence of the global on the local was not a direct and linear flow. Rather, it was mediated by, and interacting with, the perceptions and responses of the Beijing government at the regional level. As Beijing tightened its grip on Hong Kong’s democratization, the Umbrella Movement was produced as an unintended consequence. The interaction among global, regional, and local time-spaces also shaped the micro-dynamics of the Umbrella Movement. Democratic struggles around the globe compelled Beijing to make a strategic response to close off the expanding space for democratic mobilization at the regional level. Yet, this induced grievances in both Hong Kong and Taiwan. Tactics and emotions diffused in the region and moulded the pace and spatiality of the Umbrella Movement. This paper concludes by highlighting some strategic dilemmas encountered by activists in dealing with multiple time-spaces.
Keywords: pro-democracy, time-space, diffusion, occupy movement, Hong Kong
Session 7C in Room 9
Chair: Kai Heidemann
Begum Zorlu (City University, London)
Political Opportunities and Democratic Decline in Turkey
Abstract: Political opportunities refer to the elements of political structures that influence paths of action (Eisinger 1973; Kitschelt 1986; McAdam, 1982; Tarrow 1986, 2011). However, in the last 30 years, the literature on social movements has undergone a vast transformation as social movement scholars responded to the criticism of how the structural basis of political opportunity neglected the significance of subjective factors like ideology (Goldstone 2003; Goodwin & Jasper 1999; Kurzman, 1996, Tarrow, 2012). Therefore, the literature on political opportunities has moved on to see that opportunities and threats are relational (Alimi, 2007) By embracing a relational perspective and conceptualizing political opportunities by means of building on influences in processes which aids the opposing groups to strengthen its base and create a room for exhibiting its agency, this paper will identify and compare the relationship of two significant social movements -namely the Flag Demonstrations and the Gezi Movement- and the regime in Turkey. In the contentious period of democratic decline, where an interactive process of framing between the opposition and the incumbent took place, this paper will demonstrate how these movements impacted the process, by tracing the response and counter-response from the regime and the movements.
Bernd Bonfert (Roskilde University)
Allied Against Austerity – a network analysis of transnational cooperation among anti-austerity activists in Europe
Abstract: The imposition of austerity programmes across Europe following the financial and economic crisis of 2008 has sparked a transnational social movement wave whose impact is still palpable. The contestation of European austerity has become widely diversified, from grass-roots activist groups and protest platforms to solidarity infrastructures and leftist governments. The development of these initiatives differs across regional and politico-economic lines, and most of them are squarely focused on their own domestic context. In spite of this fragmentation, there have been a number of efforts to connect anti-austerity activities across Europe, from transnational campaigns, summits and protests, to the establishment of transnational activist organisations. Anti-austerity initiatives are evidently willing and able to create alliances across borders and carry their contestation to the European level. The question we need to ask is: Under what conditions do they do it? This contribution aims to answer that question. Based on a Social Network Analysis of hundreds of activist initiatives and the dozens of transnational projects they engaged in, it identifies which specific groups of actors cooperate with each other, and characterizes the content, form and scope of their cooperation. Triangulating the evidence with qualitative analyses of activist publications and interviews, it then determines the activists' concrete reasons for cooperating, as well as the successes and challenges they encounter. Using a Gramscian theoretical framework, the results are ultimately discussed in regards to how the transnationalisation of social struggles corresponds to the variegation of neoliberal capitalism and the erosion of its hegemony.
Keywords: austerity, social networks
Diego Pessoa Santos and Christian Scholl (Maastricht University)
Towards sustainable urban mobility? The cycling movement in Belo Horizonte and its urban political opportunity structure
Abstract: American cities are facing due to the car-orientation of their urban development approach. Recently, a broad ‘cycling’ movement has emerged promoting the use of the bicycle by creating a distinct and visible cyclist (counter-)culture in the city and pressuring the municipality of Belo Horizonte to take (more) decisive policy steps. In the past few years, the municipality has formulated new urban mobility policies focusing on the promotion of more sustainable urban mobility modes. However, the implantation of these plans does not go without obstacles and so far has delivered little results what concerns the bike-friendliness of Belo Horizonte. This paper elaborates an explanation for this discrepancy between favorable policy arrangements and the lack of positive results by studying the cycling movement in the context of its ‘urban political opportunity structure’ (UPOS). The paper develops a framework for studying the political context of urban social movements building on previous frameworks for political opportunity structures focusing on the national and, sometimes, international level. The framework shows how an interest in urban (sustainability) transitions can be fruitfully combined with an interest in social movements making analytical space for power dynamics, often neglected in transition studies. Our findings show that - while the UPOS for the cycling movement in Belo Horizonte offers leverage points, such as room for potential alliances with relevant political actors – it also creates major barriers, such as weak access points to the institutionalized political system, the lack of accommodation of the cycling theme within society, and inadequate governmental structures to cope with the policy ambitions. We, therefore, argue that Belo Horizonte’s cycling movement was too narrow in its attempt to exploit window of opportunities for advancing cycling as a part of a sustainable urban mobility transition.
Keywords: cycling movement, urban political opportunity structure, urban sustainability transitions
Cecelia Walsh Russo (University of Copenhagen)
Climate Justice in its second decade: targets, strategies, organizations
Abstract: The most recent international conference on climate change in Katowice, Poland held during early December 2018 was the most recent meeting to generate the interest—and ire—from global climate justice activists and groups. Outcomes from the meeting were relatively uneventful. The meeting kept in place the 2015 climate agreement regarding a global temperature stasis (kept at 1.5C), with little agreed upon regarding climate mitigation efforts to decrease fossil fuel emissions (Guardian, Dec. 17th 2018 “Climate change activists vow to step up protests around world”). However, many climate justice activists and organizations have announced attempts to refocus their efforts with renewed attention paid towards organizing days of actions, protest events and increasing the number of global organizations (Guardian, Dec. 17th 2018). What have been the organizational and tactical contours of the “movement" as it prepares to enter its third decade? What kinds of coalitions have emerged that link climate justice to other struggles for social justice? What have been the targets of climate protest events? Do climate-movement organizations aim to transform values and social norms (“hearts and minds”)? Or merely public policy? Has the traditional national state declined in significance in terms of targeting by climate movement organizations? Has local government, particularly within the US, become the “battleground” for climate politics researchers once predicted (Vasi, 2006)? If so, has policy impact been on a national, international or local level or generated multi-level change? This paper proposes to provide in-depth case studies of three climate movement organizations: 350.org; the People's Climate Coalition; and the Citizen's Climate Lobby, with respect to their targets, strategies and organizational forms. The three case studies will be framed within the context of climate change as a movement and the attendant questions posed here.
11 - 11.30am
Refreshments in The Hub
11.30 - 1pm
Simultaneous Session 8
Session 8A in Room 4/5
Chair: Olga Zelinska
Graeme Hayes (Aston University)
Direct Action, The Courts and #Stansted 15
Abstract: Though political theory has much to say about the conditions of disobedience, it has little interest in the performance of disobedient action, or in what happens to activists when they are arrested and prosecuted, and subjected to law within what Jasper and collaborators define as arenas. Equally, both normative and performative distinctions are mostly ignored in (if not completely irrelevant to) classic repertoire accounts of protest, whose historicising approach to protest form tends to flatten vital questions of how practices carry ideology and identity. This is particularly problematic for disobedient action, as questions of accountability carry great significance for the meanings that activists bring to their protest practices and speak directly to the transformative potential of action. In this paper, I draw on our observation of the recent high profile ‘terrorist trial’ of the Stansted 15 anti-deportation activists. Through the trial, the activists developed a discourse of accountability collapsing the normative bright lines between civil disobedience and direct action. This discourse was both more conservative than civil disobedience (in that it eschewed a political analysis, and was based on a conscious performance of the ‘ideal activist’) and more radical (in that it sought not simply to convince legislators of the need for legal and political change with respect to UK detention and deportation practices, but to bypass state institutions entirely in favour of an ethics of mutual solidarity and care). As a result, I argue that understanding how the meanings and contours of a given action are constructed requires a situational and performative analysis, which is subject to the interplay of materialised relationships of power and constraint. I argue that these meanings are open to transformation through the changing and successive material and symbolic contexts of the 'career', or multiple connected performances, of action.
Kevin Gillan (University of Manchester)
Social Movements, Strategic Practices and Social Change
Abstract: If social movement scholarship has any collective mission, then it is to understand this triumvirate: social movements, protest and social change. Much social movement scholarship takes a relatively narrow approach to these terms, so that movements appear as sets of demands being make on authorities; protest as the various culturally available scripts through which groups can make such demands publically; and social change figuring, therefore, as a change in state policy. Ultimately this is a theory of social movements wedded to the professional political scientist's theory of social change in democracies. This talk is intended to take a broader approach that begins with the recognition that participants in social movements have their own (varied) theories of social change, and that such theories shape patterns of behaviour that become characteristic of different kinds of movements. I will explore four key categories of strategic practice, drawn from the wider literature on social movements and each indicative of a different underlying theory of social change: 1) demonstrations of worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitment (Tilly's version of the classic political scientists' theory); 2) direct action attempting an unmediated impact on an opponent; 3) prefiguration of a better society through creating alternative social forms; 4) lifestyle action embedding alternatives in the routines of everyday life. I will argue that the identification of these ideal types raises the potential to move research on movements and social change in a productive direction, and one that may be more suitable for the study of strategic practices in a wider range of socio-political contexts.
Keywords: protest, repertoires, strategies, practices, prefiguration, reevaluating wunc etc
Matteo Tiratelli (UCL)
Violence and the triumph of social movements
Abstract: In the orthodox interpretation of the history of protest, the 19th century is seen as a move between discrete stages: from local, direct action, to the modern social movement which emerges by about 1830. However, rioting presents a challenge to this interpretation. Using a catalogue of 450 riots from Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow (1800-1939), I will argue that they evolved in different ways across these various historical stages and played a central role in city life right the way through to the end of the 19th century. Riots therefore bridged the gap between the modern and premodern repertoire, while their gradual evolution makes them very difficult to categorise as a part of either period. In fact, the history of rioting as a living, evolving practice undermines this whole periodisation. Moving away from it forces us to focus on the histories of particular forms of protest, like rioting; charting their contingent, convoluted and individual development. This marks a departure from Charles Tilly’s immensely influential account of the evolution of protest and focusses on a different aspect of the ‘repertoire’ metaphor: instead of searching for discrete periods, we should try to trace the lineages of particular routines or practices across time and space
Keywords: repertoires, riots, violence, history, Charles Tilly
Anna Krausova (Oxford University)
What social movements ask for, and how they ask for it: Strategic claiming and framing, and the successes and failures of indigenous movements in Latin America
Abstract: Whether social movements can make a difference remains a perennial question of social movement scholarship. This paper makes a contribution to this debate by examining the contentious collective action of indigenous people(s) in Latin America. As identity-based movements grow globally, indigenous politics in Latin America provide a wealth of examples of social movement ‘success’ inviting further study. This has the potential to enrich both the Latin American scholarship on indigenous politics, which often takes the impact of indigenous movements for granted, and the social movement scholarship on outcomes, which seems to increasingly question whether protest can have any direct impact at all. This research suggests that neither approach is adequate; factors under the control of indigenous movements themselves can lead to positive outcomes. The choice of tactics, the nature of claims and the way in which they are framed, play a role, both directly and in interaction with contextual variables. Taking into account movements’ strategic claiming and framing is thus crucial for understanding social movement outcomes. Few studies have been able to show the effect of framing in particular on movement outcomes; partially at least this is because the claiming (what) and framing (how) of social movements have not been distinguished well within framing theories. To have an impact, movements need to be able impose a material and symbolic cost on their targets that exceeds the cost that meeting their demand would present. Overall, this paper thus suggests that despite the overwhelming empirical support for the thesis that social movements tend to rely on political opportunities for securing desired outcomes, this is not inconsistent with the fact that social movement can at times succeed even in apparently unfavourable political conditions. In the latter situation, if protest can impose a high enough combination of both material and symbolic costs, it can indeed matter.
Keywords: social movement outcomes, mixed method, Latin America, framing, mechanisms
Session 8B in Room 8
Chair: Ayse Sargin
Gokce Tuncel (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris)
New forms of resistance in authoritarian Turkey: the case of autonomous political collectives
Abstract: In the AFPP conference I would like to present my research on the political collectives in Istanbul which seek to challenge the ongoing government repression and social engineering by initiating a grassroots movement through simple everyday practices such as riding a bike. In the absence of a possibility to engage in institutional and traditional politics, such practices are turned into subtle political tools that enable a long-term mobilization. These activities create spaces for socialization where social norms are born and negotiated outside the social and political agenda of the government. I am interested in the internal functioning of these collectives as well as the development and execution of their agenda. My central research questions are : is there a hierarchy among and within the collectives? If so, how does it operate? How the division of labor is established? How do they determine their strategies and how can we evaluate their efficiency? The aim is to demonstrate the ways in which the multiplication of such autonomous zones transform the social fabric and consequently, the politics. This research is part of my PhD dissertation that I have been carrying out in Istanbul since 2016 and which comprises 35 semi-structured interviews and observations. The focus is on five particular groups : Bicycle collective of Don Quixote (Don Kişot Bisiklet Kolektifi), Defense of Northern Forests (Kuzey Ormanları Savunması), Plaza Action Platform (Plaza Eylem Platformu), Kadıköy City Solidarity (Kadıköy Kent Dayanışması), and Solidarty Academies (Dayanışma Akademileri).
Muzaffer Kaya
The Struggle against Authoritarianism in Turkey: The Rise of Peoples' Democratic Party
Abstract: This article discusses the potentials and problems of the struggle against the rising authoritarianism in Turkey. Particularly, it focuses on the rise of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), as a counter-hegemonic democratic bloc against the authoritarian rule of Erdogan. Even though HDP is originated from a minority movement, the Kurdish Liberation Movement, it became a constellation of anti-authoritarian movements after the Gezi Park Protests in 2013. The strategical change of the Kurdish movement from creating an independent Kurdistan to the radical democratization of Turkey resonated with the Gezi Park protests, which changed the axis of political polarization from secularism versus Islamism to democracy versus authoritarianism in the western part of Turkey. The unexpected electoral success of HDP in the June 2015 elections gave the party a key role in the struggle for democracy in Turkey. My aim in this paper is to give a historical account of the rise of HDP as a counter-hegemonic anti-authoritarian political bloc against the rule of Erdoğan, the president of Turkey and to explain how HDP has managed to form alliances with other progressive movements such as the Alevi, feminist and environmental movements and how it has combined the anti-colonial struggle in Kurdistan with the democracy struggle in Turkey, identity politics with class politics, and politics of recognition with politics of redistribution
Keywords: Turkish politics, anti-authoritarian struggle, Peoples’ Democratic Party
Sustarum Thammaboosadee (Thammasat University Thailand)
The social movement of ‘Welfare State’ under military regime dusk in Thailand 2018-2019
Abstract: The paper will illustrate the movement in welfare state demanding from the left wing politics in Thailand during 2018-2019. Since 2014, Thailand is ruled by military regime. The undemocratic constitution is introduced in 2017 which emphasize the power of military government and conservative elite in Thailand. Under military rule , it is not mere undemocratic political atmosphere. There several projects which are introduce for benefit of the big business and conservative elite. The 2017 constitution consider welfare policy in Thailand as mean test-residual welfare policy. The implication is that only poor people that should be granted welfare support. There are several attempts to destroy the spirit of universality welfare in Thailand for many times under the regime. During 2018-2019 , there are many movements from civil society , academics and political party on the necessity of the introduction of welfare state instead of the junta-mean test program. The civil society are constructed by the long-standing movement on separated issue on housing welfare , labour rights , universal pension universal health care and other pro-poor civil groups. It is the first time that the universal alliance from the poor movement is formed under one umbrella of network- ‘We Fair-We need Welfare State’. For academic movement, there are big debates on welfare state necessity in Thailand from the contestant of Nordic-Model , East Asia productivist welfare and private-led welfare. There are several academic researches that confirm inequality and the possibility of welfare state in Thailand. Finally, on the preparation for general election in 2019 , there are several left wing political party who advocate welfare policy as the infrastructure for Thailand. It becomes the big debate among Thai people that which type of welfare policy that is suit for Thai society under the election atmosphere. The article will separate in three parts; the first one is the general perception of Thai society toward welfare-state. The second shows the contesting paradigm from academics –civil society and political party. The third part is concluding remark on the movements of welfare state in Thailand.
Keywords: Welfare State , Social Movement in Thailand , Civil Society under Neoliberalism
Session 8C in Room 9
Chair: Mihir Sharma
Dina Falten (University of Bayreuth)
The slim line between online and offline activism: the intersection of social media, protest and policy change in a university setting
Abstract: This paper considers the threats and opportunities of using social media during political charged moments in a university setting. The historically ‘white’ institution, University of Cape Town, has faced several challenges in the past five years. While student movements, such as #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall, took place in the university setting, social media played an important role for communication among students, resource mobilization as well as expressing identities and narratives. The author critically discusses the use of social network sites, as well as instant messaging apps (e.g. WhatsApp) supporting policy change at a university. It has been argued that physical support determines the successful outcome of protests. It is, however, crucial to connect the ‘offline’ space with an ‘online’ sphere. By looking at how the ‘online’ influences the ‘offline’ (and the other way around), the paper provides a fundamental conceptualization of the interconnectedness between the spaces through which students navigate. The author uses qualitative data, collected during field work at the University of Cape Town, focusing on media identities of students. The paper is divided into four main parts. The first part examines the role of social movements in Africa, while shifting the theoretical focus on Resource Mobilization theory. The second part introduces student activism in South Africa, looking at the #RMF and #FMF movement in particular. After that, section three follows with an excursus to identified ‘social media’, to finally (section four) present the connection between online and offline activism.
Keywords: Social media, political participation, social network sites, students, protest, university policy, online vs offline activism, South Africa
Jane Duncan (University of Witwatersrand)
Activist learning and state dataveillance: lessons from the UK, Mauritius and South Africa
Abstract: This paper is based on a book chapter published in ‘Activists and the Surveillance State: Learning from Repression’, edited by Aziz Choudry, and published by Pluto Books in December 2018. In 2013, Edward Snowden leaked documents that revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) - the United States (US) government agency responsible for signals intelligence - had abused its mass communication surveillance capabilities to spy on millions of people, even if they were not suspected of any crimes. In spite of the global outrage at the Snowden revelations, and the massive privacy invasions they revealed, privacy and anti-surveillance activists have not achieved many gains in limiting the uses of communication surveillance to that which is reasonably necessary. While the US government has been forced to roll back its bulk collection of telephone records to appease public outrage, other mass surveillance programmes continue unabated. Many other governments are also seeking to maintain or even expand their mass surveillance capabilities. In 2016, the government of the United Kingdom (UK) passed an extremely invasive surveillance law, the Investigatory Powers Act, in spite of domestic opposition, and this law is likely to set a negative precedent for surveillance laws elsewhere. Furthermore, other data-intensive forms of surveillance (or ‘dataveillance’), such as biometrically-based identification systems and ‘smart’ CCTV, continue to spread faster than the policies designed to regulate their privacy impacts. Why has the massive outrage at Snowden’s revelations not translated into effective activism that curbs unaccountable, unjustified mass state surveillance? This paper seeks to answer this question. It also seeks to identify the factors that give rise to effective activism, by drawing comparatively on the learning experiences of anti-surveillance activists in the UK, Mauritius and South Africa. Some important struggles to reign in mass surveillance in the UK have not been very successful, with major global consequences. South Africa is a mid-level power that faces no significant national security threats, and consequently its justifications for engaging in surveillance are weaker than those of the UK. Yet its surveillance powers are extensive, although it offers some interesting examples of activist experiences with reigning in state security powers. Mauritius is a tiny island nation with little geostrategic importance for the major global powers and faces no real national security threats; yet, it too engages in mass surveillance of its citizenry. But it also has a rich history of political activism, and at least one struggle against state surveillance has been relatively successful. The paper uses qualitative in-depth interviews with key protagonists in these countries as its main methodology.
Keywords: mass surveillance, anti-surveillance activism, dataveillance, Edward Snowden
Philip K. Creswell (Uppsala University)
Feds Everywhere: Risk-perception and Risk-mitigation Strategies among Hacktivists”
Abstract: Social movement activity online takes a variety of forms, including repertoires of contention which could be characterized as high-risk because they may result in serious consequences for actors. However, digitally enabled activism and online protest are frequently characterized as both low-cost and low-risk. These characterizations are dependent upon understanding the Internet as a medium which affords lowcost action but which selectively overlook possibly risky repertoires of contention. Using an analysis of observations of chat rooms and interviews with hacktivists, I show in this study that participants structure their interactions and organize public discussions in ways which mitigate risks not only from law enforcement, but also external antagonists and internal rivals. Rather than the body being at immediate risk, it is the revelation of one’s statutory identity which poses the greatest threat to ongoing participation. Through codified and openly discussed strategic protection of one’s statutory identity, participants signal their assessment of their involvement as risky. Paradoxically, anonymity and pseudonymity protect users but also create barriers to cooperation that must be navigated by participants. These findings suggest that characterizations of hacktivism as low-risk are outdated and that rather than risk being disabling for participants, activists develop ways to continue participating despite risks. Additionally, these findings suggest that interpersonal ties and small groups may play a larger role in digitally mediated mobilization than is commonly theorized
Keywords: Risk; Hacktivism; ICT; Digitally-enabled movements; Surveillance; Anonymous
1 - 2pm
Hot lunch in The Mumford Restaurant
2 - 3.30pm
AFPP Business Meeting
In Room 4/5
If you would like to have an input into how AFPP develops for the future, please come along and chat with this year's Organising Committee. All welcome.