Alternative Futures & Popular Protest, 2021
Final Programme

Please see the final version of the programme below; click titles to see abstracts and keywords. All sessions will run via Zoom. Zoom details are available in a delegates-only version of the programme. Registered delegates will have received details of this by email - if you haven't, please contact us on

Note: all times are in British Summer Time (= GMT/UTC+1).

Jump to: Monday PM, Tuesday AM, Tuesday PM, Wednesday AM, Wednesday PM

Monday 7th June

11.15 – 11.30
Conference Opening
Chair: Kevin Gillan; Zoom host: Simin Fadaee
A brief welcome from the AFPP Organising Committee. Feel free to bring questions about how the conference will run. The organising committee are: Simin Fadaee, Kevin Gillan, Meghan Tinsley, Cedomir Vuckovic and Luke Yates.
11.30 – 13.00
Simultaneous Session 1
Session 1A
Chair: Aidan McGarry
Zoom host: Kevin Gillan
Geoffrey Pleyers (UCLouvain)
A global wave of movements to confront the pandemic?
Abstract: This article will point to similarities among popular and social justice movements that confront the pandemic on different continents and raise the question of their global dimensions. In a recent article, I have maintained that social movements have adapted to unexpected circumstances of the pandemic and have undertaken a similar range of initiatives and roles during the pandemic. Do these decentralized reactions to a multidimensional crisis draw the outlines of a “global wave of movements” (or a “global movement”)? Activists and citizens often experience local and national movements initiatives as isolated bottom-up projects. Four arguments plea to complement the local and national lenses by a global outlook. (1) The pandemic confronts social movements to similar challenges, although with different resources. (2) Movements for social justice have faced the pandemic by adopting similar repertoires of action (with an increasing emphasis on mutual aid) and (3) similar framings/interpretations of the multidimensional crisis. Moreover, (4) a series of online encounters gave fostered continental and global dialogues among movements. Bringing together initiatives on different continents should not hide the specificities of local and national contexts in the pandemic. However, previous “global waves of movements” such as the 1968 protests or the post-2010 ‘square movements’ were not different in these matters. However, this time the spark did not come from a popular revolt. It was a decentralized reaction to a global event that affected all regions of the world. Its primary expression was not demonstrations or square occupations but less visible forms of activism.
Keywords: pandemic, global movements, mutual aid, World Social Forum
Michael Briguglio (University Malta)
Protests in the year of COVID19 – The case of Malta
Abstract: This research presents and discusses physical protests that took place in Malta during 2020 – the year of Covid19 - and which gained media coverage in Malta’s main independent newspapers. The paper will analyse the issues, organisations, coalitions, venues and type of protests in question. This will provide comparative analysis during the year through discourse/frame analysis, which in turn can be compared to upcoming research of protests in subsequent years. The study will look at the groups and organisations that make up the collective actions in question; the events that form the action repertoire; and the ideas that guide the protests. In turn, the study will look into the networks and the broader context in which movements are protesting, which in this case concerns the specific characteristics of movement and political activism in Malta as a small EU member state.
Keywords: Protest, New Social Movements, Malta, Civil Society, Activism
Palak Dhiman and Akhaya Kumar Nayak (at Indian Institute of Management Indore)
Minimalist Movement: An alternative approach to living in a post-pandemic world
Abstract: Human being probably is the only animal who tries to accumulate more than they need. The extent of hoarding and consumerism along with exploitation of limited resources is increasing day by day. Consequently, there is increasing disparity among the people in terms of access to essential resources/commodities. Recently, the COVID-19 crisis forced us to explore alternate lifestyles, possibly a minimalist one. The minimalist movement emerged in the 1950’s, initially in the sphere of art, and then slowly spreading to the music, fashion, food, furniture, and fuel industries. The prevalent hippie culture which revolved around the mottos like ‘living in the present, for the present’ and ‘less is more’ etc. provided an added impetus to this movement. However, the system of minimalist living is not new. Certain religions like Hinduism and Buddhism since long prescribe to be happy by renouncing the materialistic possessions and leading a simple, humble, and spiritual life. Minimalist approach does not only prescribe reducing the existing possession but also practicing a lifestyle with minimum needs. The recent pandemic led us on a path where we could believe in the dire need and urgency to ponder on sustainable lifestyle via a minimalist approach as an alternative living practice. The COVID-19 crisis forced us to re-define and redesign our cultural practices. The generally grandeur and extravagant Indian marriages during the COVID-19 crisis are solemnized sustainably and minimally. The same can be extended to education, infrastructure, furniture, clothes, appliances, pantry etc. in the post pandemic world. This paper aims to analyze the minimalist movement as a New Social Movement and evaluate the usefulness of ‘recasting culture’ as a tactic in spreading the minimalist movement in post COVID19 pandemic era.
Keywords: minimalist movement, COVID-19, sustainable living, recasting culture
Shaeera Kalla (University of Johanessburg)
Assessing the Role of Trade Unions during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa
Abstract: All over the world the working class is paying the worst cost of this once in a century global pandemic. With South Africa cited as the most unequal country in the world, the labour movement has been slow to act but there are signs of unity and mobilisation as austerity and government ineptitude grows worse. While this awakening unfolds, this paper provides an analysis of union responses to the pandemic and lockdown detailing, through the benefit of hindsight, what they, employers, the government and society in general could have done better to support people through this crisis. The government response to losses in income due to the pandemic has been viewed in vastly different ways. The National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) has been constantly lauded as a partner by the government but despite union representation in NEDLAC, there are serious limitations and concerning absences and it is less obvious how unions themselves have shaped, come to terms with and responded to the implementation and scale of interventions which is what this paper is primarily interested in laying out. The government disaster relief package put in place to offset the initial contractionary impact of the COVID-19 shock was made up of three main interventions, to shield workers and the unemployed which are each assessed from the perspective of unions primarily. These interventions set at approximately 40% of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s R500 billion relief scheme. However by February 2021, only a third of the promised R500 billion had actually been spent while unemployment and hunger in a country already in crisis, increased significantly especially for black women.The paper adopts a qualitative research method and gathers data through in-depth interviews with union leaders, members, employers, civil servants, civil society and worker organisations specifically informal worker organisations. The paper also provides analysis of relevant legislation, media and policy reports, protest messaging and websites.
Keywords: Trade Unions, Grants, Social Relief, Informality,
Session 1B
Chair: Alice Swift
Zoom host: Luke Yates
Eve Olney
The Living Commons: Reconfiguring the Social
Abstract: The paper outlines the development of a social political project called, The Living Commons, in Cork, Ireland. The purpose of the Living Commons is to build a holistic, social ecological living, working, learning scheme with a focus on the socially and culturally disadvantaged. The objective of the scheme is to bring those currently working in activism under different objectives (asylum seekers’ rights, Right to Housing, Travellers Housing Rights, etc) together within a joint programme of social change that is based upon common needs. Its intent is to bring existing grassroots activism beyond categories of opposition to different ‘crisis’ and towards a common goal of concrete social change through a direct democratic, self-organised, common assembly scheme of ‘re-instituting’ projects of social production. The long-term goal is to create a self-sustaining holistic scheme that stretches across Ireland, and serves as a model beyond, rendering the ongoing crisis in State and municipal governance irrelevant. The main political philosophy is drawn from social ecologist Murray Bookchin’s concept of Communalism/ Libertarian Municipalism, Cornelius Castoriadis’ ‘project of autonomy’ as an alternative ‘social imaginary’, and Silvia Federici’s work on commoning schemes challenging patriarchal normative behaviour. To date this project has been critically framed and funded through the art participatory sector of the Irish Arts Council. We employ creative practice as a tool of equal participation within social projects. The paper details the progress of the latest funded scheme, called The Living Commons: Reconfiguring the Social which involves the development of a social commoning space in Cork city centre and the self-organised instituting of five inter-related social commoning programmes that demonstrate how the notion of ‘holistic, social ecological’ are put into play within a commoning-based model of social organisation.
Keywords: Commoning; Alternative Social Imaginaries; Communalism; Libertarian Municipalism; Participatory Art Praxis; Direct-democracy
Julia Tschersich (Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg)
Creative spaces for Seed Commons through alternative social practices: Maintaining, resisting or changing institutions
Abstract: Research on social movements and political change tends to overlook forms of everyday resistance or quiet activism. Seed Commons initiatives counter dynamics of seed enclosures and commercialization, by pursuing alternative practices related to community-based plant conservation and breeding. This paper applies the approach of ‘institutional work’ to assess how such everyday social practices of Commoning in seed initiatives maintain, reject, change or create institutions, and thereby contribute to institutional change or persistence. A comparative case study of six initiatives in Europe and the Philippines reveals the high degree of agency of Seed Commons initiatives and their capacity to reinterpret, chose from or resist external institutions. The use of gray areas and informal spaces through everyday practices is essential for preserving and widening the initiatives’ scope of action and preventing the extension of regulations that could further restrict their legal space. Yet acting within the existing set of rules means contributing to their maintenance and strengthening them implicitly. Hence seed initiatives should be conscious about their actions and potential political effects. At the same time, by demonstrating the viability, desirability and achievability of alternatives, Seed Commons initiatives especially in the Philippines have succeeded in pushing for the recognition of some of their social practices as alternatives in national policies, for instance, the Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) as an alternative to expensive third-party certification for organic agriculture. Not adopting policies and developing alternative practices on the ground can be a strong form of everyday resistance, especially when initiatives promote alternative values and norms that challenge the logics of the existing system.
Keywords: Seed Commons; institutional change; social practices; everyday resistance; seed activism; real utopias
Martin Greenwood (University of Manchester)
Utopia on the High Street: Tracing the possibilities for a marvellous Post Office
Abstract: In An American Utopia, Frederic Jameson considers and rejects the possibility of the post office (‘European’) being conceived as a vehicle for a revolutionary dual-power strategy with utopian potential. Stating that ‘Information technology now stands as an absolute historical break with whatever utopias might have been imagined on the basis of this uniquely relational system’ Jameson searches elsewhere, ultimately settling on the army as a more plausible vehicle of utopian dual-power. Viewing this dismissal of the utopian potentials of the post office as somewhat hasty, this paper suggests retaining hope in ‘this uniquely relational system’ and offers ideas as to what changes it might need to undergo in order to become more fully utopian. Focusing on the UK’s Post Office, the paper traces the institution’s development from early modernity, notes its crucial role in the consolidation of state and imperial power, its contribution to the formation of liberal subjectivity and its role in defining what would come to be known as ‘public services’. The paper reviews the struggles which the institution and its workers have undergone as the UK’s neoliberal turn has redefined how public services are conceived, and how this is represented in public experience, with many of its counters being withdrawn from relatively prominent and prestigious public locations, into chain-convenience shops, and beleaguered high-street retailers like W.H. Smiths. The paper presents an imagined revitalisation of the institution as a vehicle through which connected communities build power and develop the means to organise their mutual sustenance and flourishing, with the state’s role conceived as, initially, a reluctant facilitator, and then ultimately as a doomed competitor in this process. Using this fanciful speculation as an orienting image, the paper identifies and evaluates extant potential resources and routes from the institution’s current parlous position, to becoming something more marvellous.
Keywords: Jameson; Utopia; Dual-Power; Post Office; Public Services; Neoliberalism
Session 1C
Chair: Angela Chukunzira
Zoom host: Steven Speed
Bernd Bonfert (Cardiff)
Community-supported agriculture during the pandemic: An alternative to our capitalist food system?
Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of global supply chains and underlined which economic sectors are ‘essential’ for societal reproduction. In this context, the demand for more local, sustainable and solidarity-based forms of food provision has rapidly increased across Europe, as more people rely on food aid and engage in alternative food networks. The practice of ‘community-supported agriculture’ (CSA) represents a particularly transformative type of food network that subverts traditional market relations between food producers and consumers in favour of collective planning. In CSA local farmers and households enter into a mutual partnership to share both the financial burden and products of agriculture, which allows them to plan their food production and consumption collectively and in relative independence of market circulation. Due to its prefigurative nature, scholars and activists often regard CSA as part of a wider social movement for a decommodified, sustainable and democratic food system. However, there are various challenges CSA has yet to overcome. It still relies on the market to acquire resources (including property, machinery and members’ income), is difficult to scale up and often relatively inaccessible for people outside of educated middle-class milieus. Given its enhanced prominence during the pandemic, the question arises whether and how CSA can find ways to address these shortcomings, such as through trans-local or -sectoral cooperation, to more effectively offer an emancipatory alternative to the capitalist food system. This paper therefore aims to discuss the transformative potential of CSA in the context of the pandemic. It draws on theories of the solidarity economy and social movements to analyse the findings of qualitative case studies in the UK, Germany and Italy, based on document analyses and interviews, to capture the context-specific strategies and cooperative networks of CSA and assess their contribution to wider social struggles and transformations.
Keywords: community-supported agriculture, food solidarity, alternative food networks, prefiguration, solidarity economy
Leonie Guerrero Lara (Utrecht)
CSA as a social movement: a comparative case study of the national networks in Germany and Italy
Abstract: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a grassroots-led alternative model of food production and consumption, has been spreading in Europe (2,783 initiatives in 2015) – and concomitantly, the research on this subject is increasing. However, most research has focused on the practices performed by single CSA initiatives, while the political dimension of CSA networks as social movement organizations has been overlooked. To address this gap, we analyse the national CSA networks in Germany and Italy from a social movement perspective, comparing their framing, action repertoires, political opportunities and resources, in particular with regards to their position towards capitalism and capitalist agri-food systems. It is relevant to compare these two networks due to their different timing and context of emergence, degree of formalisation, and cross-fertilisation between the movements. We draw on archival documents and participant observation of the CSA networks and semi-structured interviews with representatives of each CSA network and of CSA initiatives in the respective countries. Our findings show that the two CSA networks have developed different frames: the German network envisions a paradigm change within agriculture to strengthen peasant farming, while the Italian network targets the market paradigm more broadly by imagining and practicing an alternative economic model. Yet, neither network has significantly engaged with critiques of capitalism. We found marked differences between the two CSA networks regarding the capacity to mobilise resources and to leverage political opportunities – both are much higher in the older and more professionalised German network. Furthermore, this study illustrates how political strategies, such as solidarity based payments, have travelled across movements through connections between local initiatives, i.e. the Gartencoop, in Freiburg, Germany and Arvaia, in Bologna, Italy. The social movement perspective adopted in this paper provides new insights into how national CSA networks organise for political impact and their potential to play as a political actor.
Keywords: community supported agriculture networks; agriculture; capitalism; food movements.
Shamsher Singh
Genesis, Development and Impact of the Farmers’ Protest against Three Farm Laws in India
Abstract: Farmers in India have been protesting against the three laws of which two are directly related to farming sector while the third one is an amendment to the existing law concerning essential commodities. These protests started initially in the state of Punjab as early as June 2020 when the new laws were introduced as ordinances by the Union government in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. The more organized and coordinated protests by more than four hundred farmer organisations across India gave a two day protest call under the slogan “Dilli Chalo” (March to Delhi) on November 26-27, 2020 after the bills were passed by the parliament. These protesters faced huge obstacles as the roads leading to the national capital were blocked. Since then the farmers from several states have been camping on various entry points (now popularly known as borders) of Delhi. This movement has been seen as a significant development in the history of peasant movements in India. The protest has garnered enormous solidarity from various sections of society. Khap panchayats (clan councils) which are mainly influential in the northern states of the country and have been in news for their controversial role in cases of “honour killings” of inter-caste marriage couples and other diktats have also come in support of the farmers demands. This paper in addition to understand the overall impact of the protest on agrarian transformation, based on interviews conducted with khap leaders from the state of Haryana, critically examines the role played by these institutions in the movement and potential impact the movement can have on the future of these institutions.
Keywords: Farmers’ movement; agrarian crisis; caste; rural India; khap panchayats; farm laws
Steven Speed
Food Sovereignty, Agroecology, Territoriality and Transformation
Abstract: The Scottish Crofting Federation and The Land Workers Alliance are both member organisations of La Via Campesina an international movement of peasants and small-scale food producers that represents over 200 million people worldwide. This paper looks at the experience of their Scottish members as they have dealt with multiple crises from depopulation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the contradictions of uneven geographical developments and the production of space that these crises have revealed. The strategies employed by small-scale food producers in the face of these crises resists, to some degree, the transformative processes of capitalism by producing an alternative relationship to time and space where space is generated through time and the commodification of social relations and the production of surplus value is reduced. This is not a consistent experience, but it appears to be relative to the proximity of urban centres which poses some interesting questions about social reproduction and their sustainability. The paper will discuss the nature of these crises and the impact they have had on supply chains, the way land is valued and managed and the unintended consequences they have had for small-scale food producers. It will look at how strategies such as food sovereignty, agroecology, and land justice are being employed by exploring the increase in demand for direct sales, the regenerative agricultural being used to transform previously unusable lands into environmentally rich and biodiverse spaces, and how communities have organised to resist and reverse the private appropriation of common lands.
Keywords: Food Sovereignty, Agroecology, Land Justice, Crisis, Social Movements
13.00 – 13.45
Lunch Break
13.45 – 15.15
Simultaneous Session 2
Session 2A
Chair: Michael Briguglio
Zoom host: Chris Waugh
Angela Chukunzira
Communication in Coronavirus Crisis: A Case Study of Communication Practices of Activists in Johannesburg in the Covid-19 Pandemic
Abstract: South African activists became frontline workers when the Covid-19 pandemic struck the country in mid-March 2020. Based on the limitations that the pandemic has imposed on traditional organising methods, digital activism arguably became more prominent. But this has not been an even process. Activists organised online and although online organising is not new in South Africa, the adoption of the newer media in their organising practices changed the dynamics of their communication practices. The more explored online organising in South Africa was the Fees Must Fall student movement that organised using Twitter (Wasserman 2018). These were co-ordinated by ‘digital publics’ in this case, students who had access and affordances to be able to use online platforms. However, this project looks into the communication repertoires of social movements that are constituted by a majority of working-class activists, and how they integrated technology as part of their communication repertoires. While avoiding the ‘one-medium bias’ (Trere 2012), this study specifically investigates how two platforms, WhatsApp and Zoom, have been integrated and have continued the co-evolution of the different technologies that are being employed by a social movement. It points out how activists and social movements relate within a broader media spectrum. Firstly, by looking into how the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted the communicative practices of movements. Secondly, by examining innovative ways through which activists have adopted, navigated and integrated newer media into their communications despite the issues brought about by the digital divide. Fundamentally, this project will look into the relationship of newer media in a more holistic way, that it to say, in relation to other communicative practices. How newer media has been adopted or abandoned and how they shape social movement communication network.
Keywords: Digital Divide, media environment, communication repertoires, pandemic, social movements
Kgothatso Mokgele (University of Johanessburg)
Assessing the role of Community Organising during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa.
Abstract: Community mobilisation and protests are at the core of the South African democratic system. They have gathered widespread civic support in the country, thus creating spaces of power and resistance. Even during the current global pandemic which has created an unprecedented situation, community organisations continue to play a critical role, especially in supporting the vulnerable low-income communities. Many in these communities are facing unemployment, food insecurity, and poor service delivery, the situation is fragile. However, the pandemic did not only affect the community members, but also the usual routines and operations of community organisations and mobilisation. Some community organisations and activists that worked in isolation during other emergencies have collaborated to form coordinated networks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While in other cases, new organisations emerged during the pandemic to bridge the gap between the government and underserved/neglected communities. This situation confronts the popular movement with difficult strategic choices which tests its ability to mobilise and unify. This study explores community organising in response to the pandemic and the South African lockdown regulations. It assesses the extent of this advanced social solidarity to see if it was not merely transitory. In addition, the study aims to describe and analyse the relationship between local-level organisations and co-ordinating and facilitating structures. The study relies on a review of media reports, relevant websites, and protest data analysis to understand some of the activities the community organisations have been involved in. Moreover, it adopts a qualitative method by gathering data through in-depth interviews with community-based leaders, activists, and other relevant stakeholders. The results of this study will help us to understand the evolution of community organising, especially noting challenges, changes, the relationship with the state, and lessons learned.
Keywords: Community mobilisation, Protests, activists, COVID-19 Pandemic, South Africa
Valeria Dessi and Aide Esu (University of Cagliari )
Has mutual aid the potential to convey an imaginative social movement project?
Abstract: As the current Covid-19 pandemic put severe limitations to political and social organizing, social movements’ practices have turned the global crisis into opportunities (Bringel 2020, Della Porta 2020, Pleyers 2020, Spade 2020) by widening their actions in the direction of social justice and rethinking the meaning of vulnerability and human security. In this paper we explore how social movements during the pandemic have asserted their role as “experimental infrastructures”. The flourishing of mutual aid groups globally (for instance: Cox 2020, Kavada 2020, Wood 2020) traces solidarity and care as essential political practices and dispositions, as anticipated by Tronto (2013), at the very core of the current crisis. In particular, the experience of Mutuo Soccorso (mutual aid) groups we have been observing and participating in Italy, opened the social and political field to an experimental re-definition of solidarity and care, one which brought a renewed wave of activist recruitment, politicized non-militant citizens, re-oriented the movement’s goals and reshaped communities. As we will explore, the cultivation of “subjectivities of solidarity" seem to ground an alternative society shaped precisely around relationships of vulnerability (Butler 2018), “the needs of the powerless, the poor and the culturally despised” (Cox 2020:27). Here, social movements operate as “essential services” (Wood 2020) and “infrastructures of care” (Kavada 2020) by reappropriating and reinventing the meaning, institutions and practices of care beyond patriarchal and capitalist models. Thus, we question if such re-definition of solidarity and vulnerability conveys the potential for an imaginative "social movement project" (Cox 2020: 27).
Keywords: Mutual Aid; COVID 19; Solidarity; Care; Social Movement Project; Alternative Society.
Session 2B
Chair: Bernd Bonfert
Zoom host: Luke Yates
Anita Mangan (University of Bristol)
Legitimising mutuality in public discourse: Exploring parliamentary debates on credit unions in Ireland, 1959-1999
Abstract: How did credit unions in Ireland move from the margins to become a nationally recognised movement? More generally, how do co-operatives promote their economic and organisational models in the public sphere? This paper is from a wider project that studies citizen activism relating to the credit union movement in Ireland. The paper highlights the importance of having a supportive legislative environment to enable co-operative development. It does this by exploring Irish parliamentary debates on credit unions between 1959 and 1999, including the lobbying for and debates about the Credit Union Act, 1966, and the revised Credit Union Act, 1997. The paper traces the shift in public debate from advocacy in the early years of the credit union movement to a more complex mixture of advocacy and critique in later decades. The paper begins by reviewing the literature on lobbying of governments, arguing that while much attention has been given to corporate and environmental lobbying, there has been little focus on community-based efforts. The methods section outlines how the transcripts were sourced and analysed. Data are presented in three main sections: charting the early campaigning for credit unions (1950s – 1960s), recognising the movement’s success (1970s – 1980s) and regulating the movement’s success (1990s). These sections chart the way that credit unions moved from being a marginal, unknown concept in the early years to becoming an established feature of Irish life. The article offers three contributions. First, not only is legislation important for helping the credit unions to grow, the wider debates about legislation play a crucial role in legitimising the credit union model. Second, the paper demonstrates a relatively rare example of successful, longitudinal lobbying by generations of community activists. Finally, it underscores the importance of training and education in order to maintain public awareness of the co-operative economic and organisational model.
Keywords: Community activism, credit unions, legislation, lobbying, parliamentary debates
Eeva Houtbeckers (Aalto Univesrity )
Exploring alternative futures in forest dialogues
Abstract: How do boreal forests adapt to climate crisis, species extinction and the ideology of continuous economic growth? Who decides on the future of forests? How are concerned citizens heard in decision-making? What do experts say about the treatment of forests? How can different actors gather to listen to one another? To answer these questions, Our Forest civic movement has organized 9 forest dialogues (2019-2021). Participants represent different forest related organizations, such as the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, Finnish Forest Industries, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Forest Centre, forest owners, various forestry societies and researchers. Research expertise includes forest ecology, economics, biodiversity, climate, water bodies and energy. The dialogues have covered different themes, for example participants’ own forest relationship, the future of forests, biodiversity, and the forest economy. By participants’ agreement, the contents of the dialogues can be discussed when one does not mention who has expressed the view (Chatham House rule). This presentation analyses arguments, counter-arguments and syntheses achieved in 5 dialogues, which I have participated as an activist-researcher. In addition to forests, participants have discussed dialogues as a method. To explore alternative futures, I examine: Based on these dialogues, what should forest policy be like in Finland? What do participants think about forest dialogues as a method for exploring alternative futures? In addition to the dialogues, I draw from my experiences as a campaigner for Our Forest citizens' movement. It is a non-partisan, non-religious and unregistered network of interested actors. It originated in a Finnish degrowth movement in 2015. Activities are coordinated by a working group that does not receive compensation for its work. My involvement in Our Forests working group is part of my ongoing institutional ethnography on postgrowth work.
Luke Yates (Univesrity of Manchester)
What does corporate organising tell us about social movements?
Abstract: In transforming parts of the economy, platform capitalism is also reshaping the political dynamics between civil society, corporations and the state. ‘Grassroots lobbying’ techniques for mobilising ordinary people to support business objectives that have been widely used in tobacco, pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries are becoming repurposed by digital platforms such as Airbnb and Uber, enabled through their collection of user data. Corporate petitions, community organising drives, partnerships with civil society and ‘curated storytelling’ for influencing policy-makers and the public are used in regulatory struggles with states, often to counter existing housing movements or unions. What does corporate organising tell us about social movements? This paper draws on interview data to explore this question, considering the processes through which movement tactics have become available as a repertoire for public policy and marketing staff, and how far the politics of movements, and the form their practices take, can be separated out.
Selina Gallo-Cruz (College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, USA)
The Lies Lie Somewhere in the Middle: On Climate Denial in City Sustainability Politics
Abstract: There is growing consensus that climate change demands local action, and cities around the world are moving to present the climate mitigation strategies they can commit to in their municipalities. In this study, I examine the social nexus of activism and policy debates in climate mobilization by documenting how a major city in the Northeastern United States develops and implements sustainability policies. Through an in-depth ethnographic analysis where I participated in a City Manager-appointed Green City plan committee for New England’s second largest metropolitan area and several other local sustainability policy initiatives, I outline six different forms of climate denialism observed in the interactions among policymakers wanting to appease activists without meaningfully diverting from a business-as-usual model for city growth and the advocates tirelessly pushing the city to make changes. I detail a series of pushes for policy measures that will effectively decarbonize the city, and I examine the nature of resistance among policy-makers who navigate the climate activist lobby while maintaining deep loyalties to enterprise, including fossil fuel companies, the construction and waste management trades, and outside investment schemes that will raise the city’s emissions significantly. I document how climate denial does not manifest as a blatant refusal to acknowledge the existence of climate change; rather, policymakers strategically agree with activists about the importance of sustainability planning, only to disregard the scale, pace, nature, causes and relatedly, the responsibility for addressing climate change in city policy. I then outline six ways that this strategic counterframing demobilizes political action. Expanding my framework on counterframing and the dynamic between protest and public relations, I disentangle the relationship between the political and industry appropriation of climate crisis discourse, the role of “astroturfing” in this process, and suggest ways movements can bring counterframing out of its strategic blind spot.
Keywords: astroturfing; climate denial; city planning; counterframing; demobilization; public relations
Session 2C
Chair: Marco Perollini
Zoom host: Matthijs Gardenier
Fredy Mora Gámez (University of Vienna )
Materials of justice: curating and recrafting alternative repairs
Abstract: State crimes and forced migration due to war violence and precarity are ongoing entanglements of injustice that are barely diminished by lockdowns, quarantines, signed peace accords or international migration management deals. Within these landscapes, governmental reparation and solidarity are still deployed as ambitious yet widely limited techno-political projects reproducing historical and ongoing asymmetric relations of power in the encounters between states and bodies seeking justice and alternative futures. Those projects materialise an incapacity of states to acknowledge the multiplicity of forms of violence and displacement affecting the everyday lives of people on the move and victims of state crimes. Drawing on the epistemic repertoire of STS, its intersections with critical migration/border studies and posthuman understandings of memory and crafting, this paper wonders about those sociomaterial worlds exceeding governmental reparation and solidarity, the engagement of bodies on the move with material and transformative practices, and the role of non-humans in the material politics of alternative repair. For doing so, I share my engagement with three collective practices: `curating mobile memorials´ aimed at protesting against state crimes and contesting official narratives of the armed conflict in Colombia, `recrafting paper´ developed by people on the move finding their ways in the inhospitable streets of Bogotá, and `recrafting rubber´, a project led by a self organised community of people on the move and activists in Athens and Mytilene (Greece). Drawing on these multi-sited ethnographic interfaces, I think-with care about them as alternative repairs, or as worlds cura-ting presents, re-crafting alternative futures, and reclaiming justice beyond the boundaries of governmental reparation and solidarity.
Keywords: reparation, solidarity, sociomateriality, memory, Colombia, Greece
Heidi Morrison (University of Wisconsin La Crosse )
Lived Resistance: Interrupting Unchilding in Palestine
Abstract: Resistance to violence merits as much attention as violence itself, particularly with regard to children whose age, in the eyes of many adults, contradicts their capacity to resist. Children’s lack of conventional political, economic, social, cultural, and symbolic capital is not a deficit. The experience of being young plays a powerful role in shaping the innovative tactics children use to undermine oppressive power in their daily lives, a phenomenon this paper refers to as lived resistance: the embodied (i.e. the bodily grounding of cognition and experience) process by which people intentionally resist, individually and collectively, unjust domination in their everyday lives. Lived resistance is shaped by a person’s interlocking positions in the world, i.e., gender, class, race, and age. Like violence itself, lived resistance takes many forms: visible and invisible, formal and informal. Lived resistance refers to a way of life for children under constant dispossession, as well as a research technique. It refers to what children do, and refers as well to the nuanced analytical and methodological approaches adult researchers can employ to write about children in situations of violence. Rather than simply hitching children’s resistance to standard theories of resistance, this paper meets children on their own terms. One of the unique aspects of academic writing on children is that the subjects themselves rarely, if ever, are given a byline. This paper, based on the introduction to a forthcoming edited volume, explores lived resistance–as a research category and a research method—in the context of Palestinian children. The paper first provides a brief overview of Palestine’s history in relation to the concept of “unchilding,” the particular type of violence that Palestinian children have endured for nearly a century. Then it will unpack how Palestinian children interrupt the violence around them, i.e., how they practice lived resistance. The paper will draw attention as well to innovative research methodologies.
Keywords: Lived Resistance, children, Palestine, unchilding
Laya Hooshyari
‘Four-in-One Perspective’ and the problem of unification of social movements
Abstract: We are in the era of global movements. We are witnessing the new wave of radicalization in social movements like Black Live Matters, Friday For Future, Yellow Vests, Extinction Rebellion, Feminism of 99% and many other examples. We as activists who are dedicating our conduct of everyday life to social causes, it is important to equip ourselves with a 'time-regime' that brings unity to different aspects of our life and different movements that we are participating in. For this reason, I am going to introduce Frigga Haug's "Four-in-One perspective" which is an application of Luxemburg's concept of "revolutionary realpolitics". Four-in-One perspective means instead that all of us can conceive of distributing all human activities – employment, reproduction, our own development and politics – proportionally among each of these spheres. As Haug said: ’The art of politics, as I learned recently from Rosa Luxemburg, is not about defining the “right” goal and then implementing it; the art of politics is about building connections, about creating a space of orientation which can recontextualize fragmented struggles’. My aim is to help activists in current social movements by clarifying the relation between Frigga Haug and Luxemburg's ideas with the problem of integrating different aspects of conduct of everyday life of an activist.
Keywords: Revolutionary Realpolitics – Four-in-One perspective – Frigga Huag – Social movements – Rosa Luxemburg - conduct of everyday life.
15.15 – 15.30
Comfort Break
15.30 – 17.00
Simultaneous Session 3
Session 3A
Chair: Birgan Gokmenoglou
Zoom host: Meghan Tinsley
AK Thompson
Learning from the George Floyd Rebellion: Social Movements and Black Freedom Struggles Today
Abstract: In response to the rebellion that exploded following George Floyd's murder by police in May 2020, pundits, scholars, and movement participants have weighed in to evaluate the logic, ethics, and efficacy of tactics like rioting and looting. Few of these evaluations, however, have considered these tactics from a historical perspective. From its inception, whiteness has underwritten the legitimacy of claims issued by non-state actors in the United States. The emergence of modern, demand-based, social movements at the end of the eighteenth century cannot be recounted without reference to this history. Because Black people in the United States have never been able to presuppose recognition as legitimate claimants, Black freedom struggles have historically had an ambivalent relationship to the action repertoire favored by modern social movements. What implications might this history have for political contention today? In a moment marked by processes of de-democratization and criminalization, I argue that the historical lessons of Black freedom struggles like the George Floyd rebellion suggest a way forward for all popular grassroots mobilizations by revealing the inadequacy of the modern protest repertoire while recentering modes of direct, bifurcated contention.
Keywords: Black freedom struggles, Social Movements, Violence
Aylwyn Walsh (Leeds)
#RhodesMustFall #FeesMustFall #RUReferenceList must fall: South Africa’s student activist turn in the decolonial present
Abstract: In 2017, South African student activists produced a stage play on tour at the Royal Court in London and beyond, having been developed in 2015 at the Baxter Theatre Centre, Cape Town. The play stages the community of students at University of Cape Town involved in the incidents related to #RhodesMustFall – a five week occupation and protest. As a decolonial movement, #RhodesMustFall protests against the continued centrality of Rhodes and white supremacy in institutions of Higher Education. The play, staged in full song uses agit-prop and direct address in a composite known as ‘protest theatre’ – in which devising approaches under South Africa’s apartheid were co-produced by collectives resisting the punitive regime. I use Achille Mbembe’s conceptions of ‘Necropolitics’ (2019) and Nicholas Mirzoeff’s formulations of ‘regimes of visibility’ (2011) to read these intersectional and decolonial protests in terms of the genre work they do. The essay & presentation considers #Rhodesmustfall and #RUReferenceList as its central examples of protest as/and performance. Firstly, the actions in Cape Town South Africa and the movement beyond, including at University of Oxford, to topple the statues memorializing Cecil John Rhodes, the wealthy land-grabbing politician whose wealth was accumulated from extractivism and exploitation following South Africa’s gold rush in the C19th. These protest actions have set the terms of debate for monument toppling post-BLM in 2020, demonstrating their significance beyond a single location. Second, I attend to the grassroots movement of #RUReferenceList at the University currently known as Rhodes (UCKAR) which refers to a movement to challenge the academic exclusion of young women who published a ‘reference list’ of students who had been accused of sexual assault and rape. The movement was initiated as the women concerned were treated punitively by the institution while the men were able to continue their studies with no action. Both protests appeal to the structures of higher education to shift from their modes of seeing to witness students who were mostly Black, working class and middle class students who nonetheless came up against the intractable mechanisms of white supremacy and patriarchy of HE institutions. Both movements exemplify the understanding of ‘the university’ as a core technology of social reproduction, that necessitates new genres of protest and new modes of complaint that make legible the exploitation that is endemic in such regimes. To do so, I consider the complaint-work of Sara Ahmed (2019 and 2021). Further, I deploy Achille Mbembe’s critical apparatus from Necropolitics (2019) and Critique of Black Reason (2013) to consider different modes of protests: spontaneous street protests, monument toppling and protest theatre The Fall (2015) in the context of South Africa’s student activist turn.
Meghan Tinsley (Manchester)
Toppling Colston, Translating Cultural Objects
Abstract: Statues are ambivalent cultural objects carved in stone. The recent and ongoing wave of activism surrounding statues that commemorate slavery centres on the contested meanings of the material. This paper delves into the relationship between materiality and meaning, asking: How do statues embody racism? I argue, drawing from actor-network theory, that statues are assemblages whose meaning lies in builders’ intentions and in audiences’ interpretations, as well as their physical form, their location in public space, and their relationship to cultural and educational institutions and texts. When institutional racism pervades these human and non-human actants, statues of slaveholders embody racism. Whilst this argument seems to foreclose the possibility of material objects taking on new meanings, it offers hope for processes of translation. That is, the alteration of their physical form can transform racist statues into embodiments of anti-racist resistance. To illustrate this argument, I consider two case studies: the recently toppled statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, and the graffitied statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond (US). I consider how various actants understood the meaning of each statue, and to what extent its meaning was translated through the altering of its physical form. I conclude by considering how this argument may open up new possibilities for bringing together cultural sociology and the sociology of race and ethnicity.
Keywords: Statues, race/ethncity, Black lives matter, actor-network theory, cultural sociology
Peter Funke (University of South Florida )
Contextualizing Black Lives Matter
Abstract: This paper seeks to accentuate broader elements and dynamics of Black Lives Matter (BLM) that have also informed movement politics beyond BLM (albeit enacted in variegated and contextspecific ways). Accordingly, I suggest a distinct analytic framework. First, I join other scholars who have begun to bring the structuring dynamics of capitalism back into movement analysis (e.g. Barker, Cox and Nielsen). Second, and closely related, I take a longer temporal perspective by focusing on long-term movement rhythms, which McAdam and Sewell have termed “cultural epochs of contention” (2010). Third, I draw on Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the rhizome to start conceptually sketching the “deep grammar” informing the current epoch of movement politics and thus situate BLM within a particular, what I call, “rhizomatic epoch of contention,” which has been developing in conjunction with shifting capitalist dynamics over the last decades. A refocus on capitalist dynamics is insightful for a better understanding of the broad, epochal developments in movement logics globally as well as BLM as it allows us to a) to highlight the homologies (broadly understood) and challenges of movement politics through space and time, b) to understand BLM not merely as a movement against police brutality and anti-blackness but as struggles against the widening socio-economic inequalities, and c) alerts us to the pitfall of a (neoliberal) emancipatory politics that regards a society as fair as long as the “goods” and the “bads” are equally distributed across race and other identity lines without combating the massive wealth disparities. To be clear, I am not arguing that race or other identity concerns should be dropped in favor of class. What I am suggesting is to identify mechanisms rather than to “seek out victims and culprits” (Wacquant), to make sense of the relationship of race and class in order to challenge it.
Keywords: Social Movements, Black Lives Matter, Capitalism, Epoch of Contention
Session 3B
Chair: Olena Nikolayenko
Zoom host: Steven Speed
Ben Manski (George Mason University )
System Change, Systemic Movements, and Next System Studies
Abstract: The 21st century so far in much of the world has been characterized by the reemergence of systemic movements. These movements in most cases originate with the practice of antisystemic forms of politics in the 1990s. In the United States, for example, “anti-globalization” became “global justice,” “anti- corporate” became “democracy,” “anti-global warming” became “climate justice” and the Green New Deal, “anti- capitalist” became “socialist,” and “anti-police brutality” and “anti-prison” became “abolitionist.” In the process, activists have taken on new projects of knowledge production, establishing research committees within their unions and organizations, new research organizations, and new initiatives in popular education and collective pedagogy. At the same time, following in Robert Staughton Lynd’s mandate to ask “knowledge for what?,” academics have begun to address new questions of economic reconstruction, 21st century abolition, community transition, popular constitutionalism, and system change. Systemic movements and scholarship dealing with “next system” questions invariably involve complex sociological, organizational, and constitutional questions, yet activists describe a lack of scholarly expertise and academic support as one of their chief challenges. This paper uses a movement building analysis of data from interviews with a cross-section of activists and academics involved in these parallel efforts to assess how they are related and how academic researchers and other workers can best strengthen systemic movements.
Keywords: next system, social movements, public sociology, engaged research, social transofrmation, system change
Benjamin Abrams (Cambridge)
The Revolutions to Come
Abstract: It is widely understood in the social science of revolution, resistance and contention that our knowledge of how social processes and causal mechanisms operate is strongly conditioned by political context. The past decade – much like the coming one- has seen a series of progressive, increasingly ubiquitous transformations in the social and political conditions inhabited by masses, elites and their challengers around the world. Economic atomization, the digitalization of social life, and the rise of hybrid political subjectivity beyond the nation-state - considered at the outset of the 2010s to have been peculiar shifts in societies confined primarily to the global North – are now commonplace around much of the world. While we have seen some of the ramifications of these substantial changes in political protest in economically advanced, networked societies, we have yet to see their impact on revolutionary processes – which have so far played out in m states where these increasingly global shifts are not so entrenched. This paper draws on cutting-edge work in revolutionary theory and the study of contentious politics in tandem with contemporary sociological analyses of new structural and social formations to venture some preliminary predictions about the future of revolutionary processes, and how the revolutions of the future will differ from those of the past and present.
Keywords: Revolutions, Theory, Prediction, Contentious Politics
John Foran (UC Santa Barbara )
Intersectional Ecosocialism for Radical Climate Justice and Systemic Transformation
Abstract: In the global North, we live in a world transformed by pandemic, rebellion, and the multiple or pre- and post-pandemic crises that remain with us – climate crisis, the crisis of global capitalism, cultures of violence, pervasive systemic racism, a “democracy deficit.” In a way, this new world only underlines the importance of ecosocialism’s promise, and my thesis that twenty-first century ecosocialism will be intersectional, or it will remain marginal to the needs of our collective moment. In this paper, I’d like to offer some observations on the topic of “intersectional ecosocialism.” The reasons for this are fairly evident in the global North, where ecosocialism is, on the whole, far too “white.” My thesis is that without something like a theory/strategy/analysis of the need for ecosocialism to be intersectional, the movement will never grow big enough or go deep enough to win (whatever that might mean). I can draw on experiences and examples from the Green Party of the United States, the Democratic Socialists of America, the North American group System Change Not Climate Change, and the new Global Ecosocialist Network to indicate the general slowness and gradual efforts to engage with people of color movements, activists, and perspectives. The best example of an intersectional orientation to radical social change centered on the climate crisis is the evolution of the global climate justice movement itself. Using this example, which in some ways started out as problematically as the organizations above but has gone so much further in the past decade and more so with each passing month, I will indicate how the ecosocialist movements of the global North, and particularly in North America, could do the same, in the process enriching their analyses, building a vibrant set of movements, and engaging in the coalitional work that is needed at this time.
Keywords: ecosocialism, climate justice, intersectionality, radical social transformaiton
Neil Ketchley
Violent Contention and Decolonization: Evidence from the 1919 Egyptian Revolution
Abstract: It is fashionable to emphasize the efficacy of nonviolent contention in eliciting policy concessions. A parallel literature suggests that concessions are more likely following disruptive and violent protest. This paper takes up this question using the case of the 1919 Egyptian Revolution, when the British colonial authorities belatedly allowed Egyptian nationalists to attend the Versailles Peace Conference, triggering a parlous decolonization process. To conduct its analysis, the paper matches event data from the first months of the mobilization with newly digitized telegrams sent from the colonial authorities in Cairo to the British Foreign Office. Structural topic models are used to identify telegrams that called on London to make political concessions. The results suggest that topics associated with concessions were more likely following attacks on colonial communications infrastructure. Nonviolent protest has no effect. Sentiment analysis suggests a mechanism: colonial officials used more words associated with fear in the immediate aftermath of attacks. A qualitative reading of declassified colonial security documents suggests that officials pushed for concessions as they feared that further attacks on colonial infrastructure would irrevocably undermine British rule in the country.
Keywords: Revolution, Violence, Egypt, Middle East, Quantitative text analysis
Session 3C
Chair: Jamie Matthews
Zoom host: Martin Greenwood
Asjan Ajour (Univesrity of Leicester)
Weaponisation of the body in Resistance: Hunger Striking Subjectivity in Palestine
Abstract: This article explores how the body is employed in the embodied resistance in the context of Occupied Palestine and how it works as a site of subjectivity production in hunger strike lived experience. It also explores the meaning the former political prisoners give to their actions. The article seeks to capture the hunger strikers’ theory of subjectivity as it emerges through their praxis and their philosophy of freedom. The hunger strikers constitute themselves as political subjects and their hunger strike offers a powerful illustration of how the body may be experienced and used as a political instrument. To theorise the specific formation of subjectivity in the Palestinian hunger strike, the article draws on Foucault’s concept of the ‘technologies of the self’ (1990) and problematises it from the vantage point of the Palestinian hunger strike. The article makes a contribution to theories of subjectivation by foregrounding the instrumentalisation of the body as a means of reclaiming dignity and humanity. It argues that the hunger strikers in their interaction with the dispossession of the colonial power, invent ‘technologies of the self’ to transcend the colonial and carceral constraints on their freedom. This process of weaponisation of the body creates a capacity for transformation from a submissive subject into a resistant subject.
Keywords: Subjectivity; Hunger Striking; Embodiment; Body; Foucault; Technologies of the Self; Freedom
Marek Payerhin (University of Lynchburg)
“Will they shoot if we sing The Internationale?”: Protest Songs and Mobilization in Poland
Abstract: Scholars who observe that social mobilization greatly depends on an effective framing of protest tend to emphasize collective action frames developed by movement leaders. In contrast, this study looks at widespread grassroots-level use of protest songs as an important mobilizing aspect of anti-government resistance. To be successful, framing efforts must resonate with some segments of society within the cultural and political environment of the country. Looking at protest songs more broadly but focusing in particular on their use in Communist Poland in the 1970s and 1980s, I will explore several layers of this phenomenon. (1) The use of nationalist themes as the antidote or counterpoint to official propaganda. Such themes stemmed directly from an interpretation of history that stressed a national/patriotic identity over cosmopolitan and “pernicious” influences of the foreign-dominated regime. (2) The use of old, familiar tunes but with an incorporation of new lyrics. That application of the “new wine in old bottles” concept both tapped into the existing framework of cultural references and generated emotional response that facilitated popularity and widespread circulation of the songs. (3) Innovative and perhaps unexpected forms of protest singing: from a rock musical to workers’ battle songs to religious anthems, and more. This study suggests that contributions from diverse and disparate sources (rather than merely leaders) help create a sense of common identity by supplying a reservoir of metaphors and reference points that become foundations of protest frames. From crowds intoning religious hymns to demonstrators singing battle marches and to common people reassuring themselves that a better future will come—songs helped to lower individual thresholds of participation in collective action and contributed to movement’s unity.
Keywords: protest songs, framing, identity formation, anti-Communist opposition, Poland
Nathalie Perl
The Politics of Underground Music in Ramallah, Palestine, and Haifa, Israel
Abstract: The subject of this conference paper is the politics of the production, dissemination and consumption of music in the Palestinian underground music scene. The research question I answer is “What role does politics play in the production, dissemination and consumption of music in the Palestinian underground music scene?”. The purpose of this paper is to shed light on grassroots cultural movements in Palestine, specifically Ramallah and Haifa (which is a part of Israel but is home to a large population of Palestinians). My intention is to document and amplify the narratives of the Palestinians involved in the network of Ramallah and Haifa underground music scenes, who I interviewed as part of multiple online semi-structured interviews conducted between February and August 2019. I connect my findings to the existing literature of politics of the dance floor and attempt to combine what is currently a western-dominated field with original research from Palestine in order to develop a Palestinian perspective of the politics of music. I am looking at the potential of Palestine’s music scenes to provide spaces of cultural and social expressions and to assess their political influence. Since I am further focussing on the characteristics of such spaces in reference to the concept of an underground music scene, I compare the theoretical understanding of counterculture and underground with the realities of the scenes in Ramallah and Haifa and identify potential constraints hindering their development into commercial music industries. Ultimately, I demonstrate how involvement in a local, non-commercially driven music scene can empower individuals to create communities and regain autonomy over their lives in a reality overpowered by oppression by Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and tradition.
Keywords: : politics of music; alternative political participation; everyday politics; Middle East; cultural movements; counterculture
Sean Chabot and Stellan Vinthagen (Eastern Washington University and University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
Decolonizing Repertoires of Resistance
Abstract: Social movement theorist Charles Tilly introduced the repertoire of contention concept to show that activists are public performers who innovate within a limited range of protest methods for challenging political authorities. Informed by historical research on Great Britain and France, he claimed that there has been only one major shift from the “old repertoire” of small-scale actions against local authorities in the 1750s to the “new repertoire” of national campaigns targeting liberal-democratic states in the 1830s. Contemporary movement scholars generally agree that the new repertoire still enables and constrains popular struggles universally. We argue that Western repertoires of contention are colonizing in the sense that they reinforce the modern world system’s colonial logic by focusing on liberal forms of capitalism, democracy, development, and social hierarchy. In contrast, we propose that colonized populations across the globe have created and enacted various decolonizing repertoires of resistance with radically different means and ends. These decolonizing repertoires seek to challenge and construct alternatives to liberal values, principles, and ways of life. Although they have yet to radically transform the world system, they are already transforming communities locally. In our view, the twentieth century witnessed the appearance of at least three unique decolonizing repertoires of resistance. First, the Gandhian repertoire prioritized nonviolent forms of resistance aimed at gaining individual, village, and national capacities for decolonizing self-rule. Second, the Fanonian repertoire identifies concrete ways of decolonizing African people’s minds, territories, and inferiority complexes, using any means necessary to construct a new, non-Western humanism. And finally, the Zapatista repertoire guides indigenous struggles against oblivion and for land, dignity, and communal autonomy, prioritizing constructive resistance while retaining the capacity for armed self-defense. Our paper specifies what makes the Zapatista repertoire particularly dynamic, transformative, and promising as a source and guide for today’s decolonizing societies in movement.
Keywords: Repertoire of contention; decolonization; resistance; autonomy
Session 3D
Chair: tbc
Zoom host: Cedomir Vuckovic
Anissa Yu (Warwick)
Rethinking leadership and organisation in populist mobilisation: The case of Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Bill Movement
Abstract: Populist movements can emerge from both left-wing and ring-wing, depending on the ideologies that are attached to the movements. They work in a logic by promoting a worldview of ‘the people’ versus ‘the elites’ and mobilising political changes. Many contemporary examples of populism come with strong and charismatic leaders. These leaders present themselves as the representatives of ‘the people’ against the corrupted elites. Analysis of populist leaders often depicts them as individuals having the charisma to charm people, portrays the followers as mere receivers of the leaders’ message and cannot influence the populist leaders. However, the increasing samples of populist movement in horizontal forms seem to defy such conventional mode of mobilisation. Recent literature on movement organisation also challenges this understanding of leadership and top-down mode of influence within movements. Actors in movement, be they individuals or organisations, need to handle intra-organisational conflicts as they perform leadership. From a relational perspective, leadership should not be thought of as either the qualities of the leaders or the followers, but in the type of relations that linked the actors together. Analyses of interactions between the so-called leaders and followers reveal the complex dynamics and tensions within highly diversified movements. This relational view is useful as movements nowadays become more decentralized or ‘leaderless’, facilitated by the advancement in online platforms and instant communication technologies. Performing leadership in ‘leaderless’ movements focuses not only on decision-making but also on how to work as ‘brokers’ to connect individuals with different stances and demands. Viewing Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Bill Movement as a populist mobilisation, this paper examines the notions of leaders and leaderless in the movement, their implications in theorising populism and actualising substantial political changes.
Keywords: Populist mobilisation, leaderless movement, leadership, collective identity
Bartosz Ślosarski (University of Warsaw)
The Strategic Use of Material Culture. Material Artifacts and Visuality in Street Protest
Abstract: The main aim of the research paper is to demonstrate that material objects, such as banners, flags, masks, create a toolbox for protesters which helps them to gain visibility of their goals and act strategically. This material toolbox, however, determines different strategic dilemmas, within the concrete activity and performance, in the situation of protest (Jaspers 2006; 2015; Tilly 2006). The materiality of social movements was primarily considered in social movements research as a part of the visual culture of protest (Garrett 2015; Khatib 2013; Kim 2017). In the paper, I would like to put a special emphasis on three overlapping aspects in street protest strategy: visibility as a strategic aim of organizers and supporters of the protest event (Mirzoeff 2011; 2017), strategic dilemmas associated with the use of specific material artifacts (Jaspers 2006), and visual/symbolic threats and opportunities in relations with other groups in the street protest arena (Doerr, Teune, Mattoni 2013; Meyer 2004; Ślosarski 2021). The function of the material objects is twofold: they create the background for events, but also mediate a field of symbolic interaction in protest changing the dynamics of the protest (Hess 2016; Papadopoulos 2018; Weisskircher 2019). Artifacts are balancing on the border between an active, symbolic mediator which changes human action, and a passive, material tool expressing the strategic perspective of actors participating in street protest (Latour 1993; 2005). In order to address the research aim, I undertook fifteen in-depth semi-structured interviews with a range key of actors in the Warsaw and Berlin social movement scene (Della Porta 2014; Snow, Trom 2002). The main aim of interviewing, in that case, was to get an insight into strategic decisions and dilemmas regarding choices of specific artifacts to use within the street protest arena.
Keywords: Street protest, strategic approach, material culture, qualtiative sociology, strategic dilemmas
Johan Gordillo-Garcia (Edinburgh)
“We are fucking fed-up”. Recruitment dynamics of relatives of victims of criminal violence and activists. The case of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico
Abstract: Facing multiple questions about the legitimacy of his election, Felipe Calderón became president of Mexico in 2006 and declared a “war” on drug trafficking gangs by using the armed forces for policing tasks. As a consequence, indicators of violence based on the number of murders and disappearances in the country began to grow rapidly. The government framed this violence as an exclusively gang-related phenomenon, criminalising the tens of thousands of victims across the country. After the murder of his son, the poet Javier Sicilia began a series of protests that led to the construction of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD), a national social movement that brought together victims of violence and activists from different regions. How and why, in a context of widespread violence, did one particular murder motivate people to join social mobilisation? I analyse the MPJD’s recruitment dynamics in two stages: the formation of mobilisation potential and the conversion of the will to protest into actual participation. Due to their contrasting characteristics, I explain these two stages between two different groups: the activists who started the mobilisations and the relatives of victims who joined the actions. Using in-depth interviews, the findings show that the first phase of activists’ recruitment is due to the development of a radical habitus and their interpersonal networks, while the case of relatives is explained by their shared system of meanings around impunity in the Mexican justice system and by the diffusion of information in the mass media. The second phase of recruitment, the conversion of will into participation is explained through the resonance of the MPJD’s motivational framing and the emotional experiences of the participants who got involved.
Keywords: recruitment, victims of violence, radical habitus, Mexico
Maria Ceci Misoczky and Rafael Kruter Flores (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul)
Organization and organizational processes as mean for creating spaces and opening futures liberated from exploitation and oppression
Abstract: Organization is a central aspect for the activists of popular struggles and social movements from below. In their praxis, these activists constantly engage in debates about their organizational processes and, at the same time, produce knowledge about them. However, social movement studies and theories remain largely influenced by the knowledge produced by Organization Studies’ (OS) academics who, even taking social movements (SMs) as an object of study, tend to reproduce businesses logics in their work and/or look for learnings to be applied into corporative management. The influence of OS orthodoxies started in the mid-1960s in the USA context and evolved to incorporate aspects such as SMs Organizations, resources, opportunities, and life cycles. The emergence of the New Social Movements provided another space for mutual influence. As an example, we can find Crozier and Friedberg’s propositions on the actor in the system at the core of Melucci’s definitions of SMs as structured systems of actions in which integration and interdependence of individuals and groups occur. If we look at the definitions of SMs as networks, we will find the direct influence of OS perspectives. These influences express a structural approach to the theme of organization, usually taken as an entity, a noun, a static and stable thing. More recently, some OS researchers are exploring a more nuanced and processual approach for the study of SMs in the definition of organization as a decided order, and of partial organization as the process of becoming an organization through the achievement a set of elements: membership, hierarchy, rules, monitoring, and sanctioning. It is evident that the full expression of an organization would still be the formal structured entity. It is not our aim to revise in depth the approaches and authors of the mainstream articulation between SMS and OS. Critical revisions of these interconnections have been already accomplished by some authors, including ourselves. Our aim is to argue for a definition that avoids the reification of the organization and of its forms and, at the same time, affirms organizational processes as means for creating spaces and opening futures liberated from exploitation and oppression. Processes that are informed by the ethical principle of feasibility, following the indications of Enrique Dussel’s Ethics of Liberation. We also argue for the value of the dual rhythm expressed in the movement from practice to theory and the movement from theory to practice.
Keywords: organization, organizational process, praxis, liberation

Tuesday 8th June

9.30 – 11.00
Simultaneous Session 4
Session 4A
Chair: Akhaya Kumar Nayak
Zoom host: Cedomir Vuckovic
Johan Gøtzsche-Astrup (Aarhus University)
Becoming an activist: An individualised contentious ethos in how to protest books
Abstract: How does individualisation affect contention? The question has motivated and troubled sociologists from Tocqueville, through the canonical authors on late modernity, to current research on lifestyle movements. In this paper, I home in on how individualisation affects ethos of contention. That is, how individualisation affects the ways in which contentious actors relate to themselves and others in discovering and pursuing their idea of the good. I stake out a perspective that builds on social movement theories, post-foundational political theory, and recent developments in the sociology of morality. Using this perspective, I analyse how an individualised contentious ethos is constructed in ‘how to protest’ books. The genre is a novel data source and a privileged point of observation. The general ‘how to’ genre, has long been seen as an exemplar of individualisation, turning the individual’s focus inward by asking how the individual may change themselves. The ‘how to protest’ genre applies this inward turn to contention. It constructs a contentious ethos in the register of individualisation. Based on the analysis, I argue that individualisation may result in a shallow contentious ethos, one that is unable to make sense of the public good and the contentious struggle around it. However, this is not a necessary consequence of individualisation. In fact, the books also contain an individualised ethos of contention centred on relations of agonistic respect between contentious actors, something that is sorely missing in the highly polarised landscape of liberal democracies. I suggest that the question we should pose ourselves is not whether individualisation is good or bad for ethical relations in contention but rather which kind of individualised contentious ethos we should cultivate.
Keywords: Individualisation, contention, morality, ethos, agonism
Kai Heidemann (University College Maastricht)
Social Movement Impacts in Education: Practices, Pathways and Problematics
Abstract: One of the central themes driving scholarship on social movements and protest through the years relates to the study of outcomes and impacts. This work has been critical for social movement scholarship in great part because it relates to questions of agency and the capacity of social movement actors to realize their aims and agendas. As a way to contribute to this rich legacy of scholarship, in this paper I explore how social movements influence educational systems. More specifically, I take a comparative look at the theme of movement-based impacts in education by discussing how social movement actors approach educational systems as both a target of claim-making, and a field of institutional action. Merging neo-institutionalist and practice-based approaches to social movement theory, I look at some of the primary ‘pathways’ of collective action through which grassroots actors work to impact educational systems as well as the problematics that accompany such actions. Ultimately, I argue that despite many notable challenges, by targeting and working within educational systems, dedicated actors have the capacity to transform sites of formalized education into reproductive vehicles of social movement activity, thus empowering the broader-level presence and influence of social movements in society.
Kyoko Tominaga (Ritsumeikan Univesrity )
What is the Role of Mass Media for Activists?: The Process of Foorming the Activist Identity with the Media Gaze
Abstract: This paper investigates how people form their activist identity through participation in mass media outlets, such as television, radio programmes and newspapers. Appearances on mass media platforms are important not only for social movement organisations but for individual participants. However, scholars have paid scant attention to the relationship between activist identity and appearance in mass media. The author conducted participant observation as a radio and TV commentator and as a newspaper columnist for two years. This paper analysed the collected data using the findings from anthropological research. In anthropology, the study of social movements has shown the differences between academism and activism through participant observation. The author, who entered mass media as an academician, informed and obtained feedback from the audience and reframed her knowledge to speak on the latest news and social topics. As the process continued, she reflexively focused on her personal experiences based on her gender and generation to clarify her political opinion and position. In this way, she enhanced her activist identity and simplified her academic knowledge to speak as an activist without hesitation. These findings demonstrate that participation in mass media supports people in forming their identity as activists. However, it differs from previously studied movement processes in that the process of forming an activist identity using mass media is related to reflexivity. The participants form and enhance their identity as activists through appearance and monitoring themselves via the media gaze.
Keywords: Activist identity, activism and academism, mass media, and reflectivity
Sohrab Rezvani
Project of Social(ist) Self-Understanding: A tribute to Klaus Holzkamp
Abstract: Klaus Holzkamp, the German Critical Psychologist, has argued that if Psychology wants to fulfill its function in scientific society, it has to put itself under the motto of social self-understanding. What he meant by social self-understanding was a unified, situated understanding of people’s conduct of everyday life, within social practices and to consider the significance of structural factors in everyday scenes. But is it possible to realize the project of social self-understanding without socializing the conditions of self-understanding? I argue that social self-understanding is an impossible project within the context of commodified practices such as clinical psychology or other psychological services in companies. For this reason, I have launched a cooperative psychological clinic in Iran which psychologists and clients, democratically and collectively decided about major issues of the clinic (e.g. what to do with the profit, how to supervise the psychologists, what kind of services should we provide and so on). In this cooperative clinic, we are learning about the problems of socialization of the conditions of production. We, collectively, have prepared an eight-step group analysis, in which we learn to investigate different aspects of everyday life (such as our ‘critical situations’, different ‘modes of collaboration’ in our daily life, ‘economic map’ of everyday life, and so on.). My aim is to share a report of this experience, with other activists and interested academics.
Keywords: Social Self-Understanding – Cooperative – Psychology – Klaus Holzkamp - Cultural-Historical Activity Theory
Session 4B
Chair: Anita Mangan
Zoom host: Simin Fadaee
Alice Swift (University of Manchester)
Towards the notion of 'success' for the anti-fracking movement
Abstract: The determination of whether a social movement has been a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’ is highly subjective and contentious (Plows, 2008, p.92; Giugni, 1998, p.383). There are all number of factors that contribute to whether a movement is considered to be a ‘success’ or ‘failure’ where scholars have to confront the theoretical and methodological challenges inherent to their study. Confronting these challenges, this paper seeks to argue using a ‘process tracing’ approach (Beach, 2017) that judging by a number of different metrics, the anti-fracking movement has been a resounding success. This paper will begin by using the mainstream definition of a successful change in policy (as advocated by (Giugni, 1998, p.386; Amenta and Caren, 2004) to appreciate the significant role the movement against fracking has had in pushing the UK government to decide on a moratorium against fracking (UK Govt, 2019). Economic and societal factors will be considered as highly significant but it will be understood that these can’t be taken alone removed from the movement that greatly influenced them. With the aid of literature looking at other measures of ‘influence,’ ‘change’ and ‘success’ I will then argue that the anti-fracking movement has had a tangible impact on the lives of activists involved; has actively shaped public opinion on fracking; has broadened the dissemination of direct action tactics to a particular section of society in the areas affected and has produced lasting linkages between SMOs.
Keywords: Anti-fracking movement, success, direct action, policy change
Japhy Wilson (University of Manchester)
“We are all indigenous”: insurgent universality on the extractive frontier
Abstract: This paper tells the inside story of a spontaneous uprising in the Ecuadorian Amazon in 2017, in which indigenous communities confronted a multinational oil company. A labor dispute quickly escalated into a more serious and generalized conflict, involving the blockading of the production complex, the detention of the strike organizers, the kidnapping of the company manager, the launch of a military operation to break the blockade, the revelation of a plot to assassinate the leaders of the uprising, and the unleashing of a rapidly evolving battle against seemingly impossible odds that was destined to end in a remarkable victory. The paper traces the twists and turns of this fluid and chaotic process, drawing out its traversal by a steadily ascending arc of radicalization and political subjectivation. In presenting a personal account of a particular struggle, it simultaneously bears witness to the fleeting emergence of an insurgent form of universality. This was not a dry universalism drawn from dogmatic manifestos, but a living universality that leapt from the flames of a sudden conflagration. Not a working class of white men defending their privileged position in the stable core of the global system, but a ragtag gang of women and men, black and white, indigenous and mestizo, fighting tooth and nail on the untamed frontier. Not the steady march of historical progress toward a universal future, but a moment of rupture in which universality was immediately present. And not the imported ideology of foreign intellectuals, but the boisterous self-expression of unschooled renegades. The paper suggests that the dichotomy that decolonial critique has tended to establish between top-down universalism and bottom-up pluriversality might blind it to such manifestations of insurgent universality performed by subaltern subjects in their confrontations with extractive capital.
Keywords: insurgent universality; extractivism; Ecuador; Amazon
Kyle Matthews (Otago)
“The police won’t arrest me and it’s really pissing me off”: when police foil activist strategies through unpredictable responses to protest
Abstract: Activists organise protests with an understanding of how police are likely to respond. Their expected response informs activists’ strategies and tactics, including anticipating how protests will escalate and finish. In New Zealand Extinction Rebellion, a protest group with UK origins, has organised a number of protests which draw upon global and local understandings of protest policing. These protests have included occupation of streets in the capital, blockading corporate conferences, and direct action against fossil fuel production and transport systems. However variable police responses, particularly the reluctance to arrest and charge protesters, has foiled protester plans on several occasions leading to uncertain outcomes. This variability is not only the result of the complexity of the institutions and practices of policing but also a transition towards a police policy of ‘mutual respect’ rather than ‘intervention’ in protests. Drawing on preliminary results from my PhD which explores radicalism in social movements in New Zealand I argue that: context matters for activist strategies and police responses; that activist strategies and understandings of protest policing imported from other countries can inhibit rather than enhance the work of activism; and that protesters tend to fixate on how they believe police will respond, rather than adopting flexible strategies that can adapt to the variability of policing on the day. Looking ahead, I speculate on what a police policy of engagement through ‘mutual respect’ may mean for the future of protest and civil disobedience in New Zealand.
Keywords: Policing, Protest, Extinction Rebellion, New Zealand, activism.
Robyn Gulliver, Kelly Fielding and Winnifred Louis (University of Queensland)
Civil resistance against climate change in Australia
Abstract: Civil resistance against climate change burst into the Australian public arena in 2019 with the rise of Extinction Rebellion and School Strike for Climate. However, this resistance has a much longer pedigree with long running campaigns against coalmines, blockades against coal ports and corporations, and multiple divestment campaigns against banks, universities and businesses just some examples of where resistance has emerged over the last few decades. Yet despite this activity, we have comparatively little empirical data capturing the full range and features of civil resistance used in the climate movement, nor evidence of the effectiveness of such tactics to achieve urgent and meaningful action on climate change. This presentation uses a large dataset about the Australian environmental movement to investigate what civil resistance against climate change looks like, how it has developed over time, who it targets, what it has achieved, and how it is evolving and adapting to external and internal pressures. The first section of the presentation will highlight the spatial and temporal emergence of civil resistance tactics against climate change in Australia. Section two will situate this historical evolution within a large empirical dataset of 500 Australian environmental groups, 900 campaigns and 36,800 environmental advocacy events (2010 and 2010) and consider the effects of civil resistance through two campaign case studies (the ‘Stop Adani’ and ‘Divestment’ campaigns). The final section of the presentation will consider what this data tells us about how civil resistance tactics are being used in democratic contexts and what mechanisms are deployed by authorities to suppress these tactics. Environmental activism has demonstrated the capability to shape our response to urgent global environmental crises in the past. This data helps us understand whether civil resistance may be capable of driving solutions to the current climate emergency before it is too late.
Keywords: civil resistance, climate change, environmental activism, environmental campaigns, environmental tactics
Session 4C
Chair: Luke Yates
Zoom host: Meghan Tinsley
Magdalena Muszel (Zatoka Foundation)
Women Strikes in Poland 2020 – a reactive cycle of protests or a sign of a deeper change within the Polish feminist movement?
Abstract: Since the 2015 electoral victory in Poland, the conservative Law and Justice party has repeatedly tried to further restrict abortion laws. In 2016, one such attempt was the catalyst for a country-wide women's strike. Demonstrations on “Black Monday”, were held throughout the country, creating new, cross-generational alliances and politicising women in many small towns, where street protests were never seen before. For many activists, it was the first protest they participated in, a “transformative event” (McAdams 2003, Sewell Jr. 2005). The 2016 protests marked a new era for the Polish feminist movement. With further waves of protests and grassroots activism in the following years, feminist networks consolidated and crystalized also in provincial Poland. On October 22nd 2020 the Constitutional Court declared the termination of pregnancy in case of a deformed fetus as unconstitutional, which has sparked protests again. There are several factors that make the current protests significantly different. Firstly, it is the scale of the protests that is roughly three times bigger than in 2016 (on October 30th the police registered 410 events throughout the country, frequented by approximately 430 000 people, compared to around 90,000 people and 150 events in 2016). Secondly, among organizers and participants, there were mostly people in their early twenties, which might explain the radicalism, but also the creativity and spontaneity of the movement’s chants and slogans. And thirdly, the claims were not only pro-abortion, but included social and environmental issues as well, pointing to the growing intersectionality of the new wave of the feminist movement in Poland. The main question addressed in my paper is, whether the current cycle of protests is a reaction to the politics of the ruling party, or does it signify a deeper change within the Polish feminist movement?
Keywords: Poland, feminism, abortion law, pro-choice
Kazuhiro Terashita (Kobe Univesrity)
Strategies and Consequences of Social Movements in Enacting Ordinances: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Gender Backlash in Japan
Abstract: This paper clarifies the causes that have brought about differences in the ordinances for the promotion of gender equality in various regions. In particular, by focusing on the strategies of Social Movements Organizations in the process of enacting ordinals, the goal is to show the differences in the influence of the organization of the civil society in Japan. The enactment of ordinals in various local governments, in terms of a gender-equal society, has been criticized by conservative groups and members of the conservative party in various areas. As a result, some local governments enacted ordinances that were far from the original purpose of gender equality. In feminist studies, this phenomenon has been discussed through analysis and re-criticization of the critical discourse on the equality of genders. In particular, conservatives opposition and criticism to feminists, as well as the accompanying movements, have been positioned as a backlash in Japan. Previous studies, however, have mainly focused on the re-criticism of critical discourse about gender equality policies, and have stopped at exploring single-cases of the actual policy processes. Further on, the case studies have focused on movements of conservative movements and legislators, and have not paid attention to movements of proponents such as women groups. That is why this paper examines the content of ordinals of all prefectures and government ordinals cities, and then compares cases by focusing on critics' movements and proponents in the process of enacting these ordinals. Qualitative Comparative Analysis is employed as a comparison method to investigate how causes such as "opposition by conservative groups," "opposition by conservative members," and "strategy by female groups" can explain the " content of regulation". As a result of the analysis, it becomes clear that not only the movement of the critics but also the strategy of the proponents was an important condition.
Keywords: Strategies of Social Movements, Gender Equality Law, Influence of Civil Society, Feminism, Japan, QCA
Yushuang Yang (Ritsumeikan Univesrity )
A Feminist Online Community: Fighting for Equal Employment Opportunity
Abstract: This paper complements a case study of a feminist online community in contemporary China to explore how its members use institutional and cultural strategies to fight for equal employment opportunities. Due to the temporality of many online activities, previous studies often draw an event-based approach. By contrast, through analyzing a long-standing feminist online community’s activity by utilizing content and discourse analysis on members’ posts on SNS platform – Weibo, this research addresses the following questions: (1) how does the feminist community negotiate with the government departments or corporations to require the elimination of gender discrimination in employment? (2) how do members of the community promote gender equality awareness in public at large? The findings highlight that the community’s communication intensively echoes the frame of injustice. It resonates with members’ experience of how gender discrimination in everyday life deprives their opportunities in multiple dimensions, forming a collective identity of the “deprived.” Thus, this community functions as an alternative space for members to expose daily gender discrimination and express indignation. Also, this community constructs a toolkit that fits the current political and administrative system’s procedure to negotiate with relevant government departments. While such strategies lower the participation barrier and offer members motivation, the institutional impact and efficiency remain questionable. This research implies that member’s communication centered on gender discrimination in employment reinforces their collective identity and engenders the urge to correct the wrong with provided institutional and cultural strategies. However, due to China’s current socio-political environment, the “strategy-freeze” problem emerges since it is difficult for activists to examine strategies’ efficiency retrospectively and reflexively.
Keywords: feminist online community, social media, equal employment opportunity, strategy in social movements, strategy-freeze
11.00 – 11.15
Comfort Break
11.15 – 12.45
Simultaneous Session 5
Session 5A
Chair: Dina El-Sharnouby
Zoom host: Martin Greenwood
Athanasios Magalios
What to Do in Case Anarchism Bites You: An Ethnography of Anarchist Ethics, Autonomy, Melancholia and Eutopia
Abstract: Anarchism as a life motivator and organizer cannot be segregated from the concept of ethics. Through anarchist ethical motives and stances, I try to examine autonomy, melancholia and hope along with eutopia within a dedicated anarchist group in the western European context. Autonomy as an active element of freedom intervenes with the latter, causing an eventual replacement, due to the theoretical vagueness it offers. As an analytical tool, autonomy offers a political common ground of action, understanding, co-modulation and co-existence. On the other hand, melancholia under a schematic relation of transformations becomes an expression of hope, examining all three dimensions of time. Namely, the past, the present and future. Last but not least, in this work, I try to examine a different theory, being an alternative to the utopian theory, that of eutopia. Under the eutopic lines, a desired reality is constructed based on the collective along with the individual efforts of group’s members.
Keywords: Anarchy, Ethics, Autonomy, Melancholia & Hope, Eutopia
Emre Sahin (Binghamton Univesrity )
From contention to prefiguration: PKK and Rojava revolution
Abstract: Social mobilization in the 20th century was marked by contention with the state, where anti colonial, labor, fe minist, queer, and other movements worked towards taking or influencing state power. Social movements of the 21 st century, on the other hand, have increasingly turned to prefiguration where communities around the globe create the world that they desire in their day to day relationships and activities. The Zapatista Movement, Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Gezi Uprising and 15 M are important examples of prefigurative social movements that have emerged in recent decades. However, the trend of prefiguration has also impacted existing contentious movements and begun to transform their relationship with the state. The Kurdish movement is a key example where the contentious politics of the 1980s were replaced by the prefigurative organizing and transformation o f the 1990s. Although it was established as a Marxist Leninist party of Kurdish national liberation, the PKK reorganized itself, adopted Democratic Confederalism as its ideology, and transformed into a prefigurative movement in the 1990s. Rojava revolutio n represents the crystallization of this prefigurative transformation, which I will explore in this conference paper. I will use primary sources such as the Rojava Social Charter as well ethnographic sources such as semi structured face to face interviews in my analysis.
Keywords: Prefigurative mobilization, horizontalism, autonomy, Kurdish movement, Rojava (NE Syria)
Orestis Varkarolis (Nottingham Trent University )
Challenging conspiracies of silence within alternative work collectives
Abstract: The general aim of the current research project was to identify and challenge the deep structures responsible for persistent throughout time/space cooperative challenges which undermine organizational learning within radical collectives: difficulty in obtaining accountability from members, unproductive use of conflict and meetings. To this end, the fitting methodology of Action Science, which has never been used before for cooperatives, was used to explain the deep counterproductive defensive structures that maintain a problematic status quo in a constellation of cooperatives in Greece and to help co-operators unlock their potentials for organizational learning by creating a stimulating environment for reflexivity. Drawing from process data and inspired by Zerubavel’s concept of the conspiracy of silence, I explore how radical co-operators aiming to safeguard inclusion often skilfully act on myopic ways by tacitly and symbiotically ignoring disturbing reality. Yet, the current research departs from ethnographic approaches which can only provide a (problematic) picture of reality by enabling co-operators to reflect on the world they create and learn to change it in ways more congruent with the values and theories they espouse. Hopefully, the current research will be useful for other co-operators as well to better resolve problems associated with conspiracies of silence in the future.
Keywords: Radical cooperatives, action science, ethnography, conspiracy of silence, reflexivity.
Session 5B
Chair: Fredy Mora Gamez
Zoom host: Sofia Tipaldou
Burcu Binbuga (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin )
The Struggle for Urban Commons in İstanbul, Turkey
Abstract: İstanbul is the city where Turkish government have intensified the neoliberal urbanization under the name of construction, infrastructure, transportation and urban transformation projects. These projects are used as a tool for hegemony building process for the government. On the other hand, these projects generate discontent and opposition; many grassroots movements have emerged to defend the city against the projects of the government commercializing the parks, coasts, forests and other urban commons in the city. Northern Forests Defence is one of the oppositional movements aiming at protecting the urban and ecological commons and struggling against the projects that destroy ecosystems in İstanbul. This presentation will introduce main findings of my research on Northern Forest Defence, as a part of my Ph.D. research. The empirical dimension of this thesis is based on the data gathered from the field research, combining in-depth semi-structured interviews with 25 activists with participant observation between January and June 2017 in İstanbul in Turkey. In this presentation, I will discuss the social basis, organizational characteristics and protest repertoire of the movement and the motivations of the actors with respect to the urban movements that aim to protect commons against neoliberal destruction of the cities and the nature, as a part of anti- neoliberal protest waves in different parts of the world.
Keywords: Commons, anti- neoliberal social movements, urban movements, Turkey.
Emilia Arpini, Laura Stegemann, and Grace Brown (University of Glasgow)
Countering neoliberalisation in, against, and beyond the local state? The role of social movements in re/municipalisations in Argentina, Germany and the United States
Abstract: A ‘new municipalist’ movement has been emerging across different towns, cities, and communities worldwide, aiming to contesting the effects of neoliberalisation processes (Peck and Theodore 2019). Through local activism and citizens’ initiatives, these movements critically work towards local commoning practices, economic democracy, democratic ownership of the commons, transforming state institutions and promote alternatives modes of local governance (Cumbers and Traill 2021; Russell 2019; Cumbers 2015; Thompson, 2020; Janoschka & Mota, 2020; Durand Folco, 2017). Simultaneously, re/municipalisation has been on the rise. This is a process where local authorities and communities bring formerly privatised assets and services back into public ownership, with more than 1,460 cases since 2000 (Transnational Institute 2021). In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and a looming climate catastrophe, the causes advocated by these movements are more pressing than before. Universal access to services such as energy, water, health care and food is both of socioeconomic, environmental and political importance. Building on the argument that the form of (new) municipalism is locally situated, (Cumbers & Paul, 2020), this article conducts a comparative case study to analyse and compare the specific dynamics that shape re/municipalisation in Argentina, Germany and the United States. Drawing on local press reports, websites, official documents, social media posts and radio interviews, the analysis focuses on the degree to which social movements, civil society and state actors have pushed and implemented re/municipalisation, specifically analysing how municipalism unfolds in, against and beyond neoliberal local state structures, institutions, and agencies. The findings suggest that municipalism and activist campaigns in Argentina engage with and work to transform local state structures. In the United States, municipalist initiatives unfold mainly ‘in’ the state to engage with local balances of power. Local authorities are the main drivers of a ‘conservative municipalism’ in the German example. The analysis furthermore underlines the importance of understanding municipalism as a varied global counter movement to neoliberalisation, whose form, potential and effect differs across institutional and geographical settings.
Keywords: municipalism; remunicipalisation; local governance; local state
Pieter Rondelez (Ghent University)
The limits to municipalism
Abstract: Five years after a huge protest movement known as 15M had appeared in Spanish cities, municipalist confluences caused a shockwave during the local elections in May 2015. Several of these confluences won the elections and would govern major cities like Madrid and Barcelona. The transformation of 15M into (new) municipalism meant the start of an experiment in ‘real democracy’. (New) municipalism does not only refer to a form of territorial politics, but it also entails a method about redesigning democracy in order to obtain radical change. It is considered as a strategy to deal with the impact of globalization and to challenge the neoliberal order. Four years later, the elections were less successful for the municipalist forces. In Madrid, the municipalist experiment even came to an end: before the elections, the municipalist platform of Ahora Madrid had broken up and the city council was lost. Many adherents of municipalism were not only disappointed in the policy results, but also about how the municipalist method was put into practice. In this paper, I will answer the following question: what factors impede or facilitate attempts to disrupt dominant political-economic configurations and enable alternative projects like municipalism? The method entails an analysis of interviews and written excerpts by people involved in the municipalist movement and how they reflect back on the municipalist experiment in Madrid (and beyond). I will elaborate on two categories of limits: (1) limits that are external to the municipalist project and are merely considered as problems of implementation; (2) limits that are intrinsic to municipalism. The municipalist experiment (in Madrid) does not only raise questions about its own viability to bring radical change, but also about the eligibility of democracy in creating a post-neoliberal world.
Keywords: municipalism, democracy, social change, radical politics
Sofia Tipaldou and Alexandra Popartan (University of Manchester and University of Girona)
City, populism and social movements: Imagining the square in the discourse of Barcelona en Comú and Golden Dawn
Abstract: How does urban space matter for the emergence of populist social movements? Urban spaces have been used by social movements of all colours. This paper shows how far-left and far-right movements have appropriated the same space – the Square – and managed to have electoral success by making it their trademark. In particular, this paper focuses on Barcelona and Athens as two emblematic protest sites and unpacks the discursive strategies of two opposed populist movements: Barcelona en Comú (BeC), a municipalist left-wing platform born out of the Indignados movement in Spain and Golden Dawn (GD), an extreme-right movement in Greece. Both used the city squares as a privileged site to successfully politicise their demands and gain political prominence: BeC won the 2015 municipal elections while GD managed first to sent a representative to the city council in 2010 and then to enter the Greek parliament as the fifth biggest political force in 2012. We apply discourse and visual analysis and critical discourse analysis on original data from interviews that the authors conducted with BeC and GD activists and supporters, as well as on data from documentaries, photos, videos, newspapers, and social media. We argue that space can be understood as an empty signifier that can be used by both movements of the far left and the far right, in order to promote their claims and construct a particular notion of ‘the people’. When movements manage to self-identify with a particular urban public space and connect their name to it, movements unavoidably attract media and public attention and may gain significant electoral advantages. Our paper is situated in the intersection of social movement studies and geography and covers an existing gap in the literature on urban populist movements that remain largely understudied.
Session 5C
Chair: Ryan Switzer
Zoom host: Matthijs Gardenier
Daniel Platek
Protesting civil society in Poland. Towards a pillarized structure?
Abstract: The debate about civil society in Poland suggests that the processes of political and economic liberalization after 1989 were multiple and have contradictory effects on different social groups. Particularly important was the progressive institutionalization of the new social structure as a result of top-down economic and political reforms and disappearance of the old features of the class structure. These processes were followed by a wide variety of expressing political and economic interests, many different forms of social organizations and the state's response to contentious claims. Grzegorz Ekiert (2020) argues that the organizational trajectory of civil society in Poland has fundamental features directing it towards cultural and political polarization, which in effect facilitates the current turn of the country towards authoritarianism. According to the author since the country's transition to democracy in 1989, Polish civil society has evolved into an organizational form that can be described as the "pillarized civil society". This phenomenon concerns the vertical segmentation of civil society into sectors that have their own organizational resources, normative orientations and, consequently, their own patterns of building protest coalitions. As Ekiert demonstrates after 2015, this process has continued to deepen. The electoral support for anti-liberal and antiEuropean parties defined political conflicts and protest politics, reinforcing the vertical segmentation of civil society. The support of the Law and Justice for the extreme right-wing organizations further consolidated the cultural polarization of Polish civil society. Despite the formulation of a strong thesis about "pillarized civil society," it has not yet been empirically verified. Assuming that the variable number of actors behind the organization of protest events reflect the nature of collective identities in the civil society I ask the question whether and to what extent coalitions of protest in Polish civil society are being formed under the impact of specific political opportunities that have arisen in Poland in the year 2020. Using a collection of protest events drawn from Polish newspapers, clustering methods and betweenness centrality measures algorithm of network analysis are employed to map the civil society protest actors coalitions and specify what it implies that Polish civil society may be perceived as a pillarized vertical structure.
Grzegorz Piotrowski
Acting Alone Together: connections between Polish antifascist activists, civil servants and politicians
Abstract: The title refers to a concept in contemporary sociology of family that discusses a situation, when a couple identifies themselves as such and has an emotional relationship. A similar situation takes place, when it comes to broadly understood Polish antifascist movement and its connections to more formalised and institutionalised political actors. The paper is based on limited case studies: Gdański Model Równego Traktowania (on the local level) and the Ombudsman for Human Rights (on the national level) for civil servants; partia Razem as a case for political ally, mainly due to lack of other actors that engage themselves in contacts with antifascist activists (both moderate and radical flanks). Even though this research tradition investigates crucial aspects of the interplay between movements and institutionalized politics, it has mainly scrutinized how movements conceive of and utilize political opportunity structures – for instance, by looking at the strategic considerations activists make when they interact (or abstain from interacting) with the representatives of these structures. In this literature, politicians and civil servants have most often been regarded as static representatives of the political context that movements have to relate to and handle in order to be successful. In contrast, studies of how public actors such as politicians and civil servants conceive of, and are influenced by, social movements, are rare. This paper aims at presenting the internal dynamics of such contacts and main trajectories. The empirical part of this paper is primarily based on interviews (21) collected for the project ‘Anti-racist contention in the Baltic Sea region: an interplay between civil servants and activists’. Majority of the interviewees were selected due to their longer experience of activism within the movement context to ensure that they could give a perspective on the movement’s development; however, a few less experienced activists were also interviewed as a way to look for changes happening within the movement and to include newly emerging groups in the sample.
Keywords: Poland, antifascism, grassroots social activism, interplay, civil servants, politicians
Hang Li (Hong Kong Shue Yan University)
Generational Perceptions of Opportunity and Threats: Shift in Strategic Preferences in Hong Kong’s Pro Democracy Movement 2010-2019
Abstract: Cultural approaches in social movement studies claim that structural constraints are often filtered by activists’ perceptions. Although a recognition of activists’ agency has offered us a nuanced understanding of the role of culture in strategy, more work is still needed to discern how activists assess strategic choices. By investigating the divergence of strategic preferences among different pro-democracy camps in Hong Kong from 2010 to 2019, I argue that the mediating role of activists’ perceptions between structural constraints and strategic choice is conditioned by the cohort-specific politicizing experiences. Based on the analysis of archival data and 36 in-depth interviews with activists from different cohorts, this paper examines the generational differences in the perceived opportunities and threats and how these diverging perceptions affected activists’ strategic decisions. The traditional pro-democracy activists, who came of political age under the expansion of political opportunity in the 1990s, advocates “democratic reunification” with China. The localists, who emerged alongside cascades of mass mobilizations in the 2010s, were critical towards the optimism of the traditional camp as the democratic progress has been in the doldrums for a prolonged period. My analysis indicates that the localists’ pessimism towards the incumbent elites and their preference toward disruptive tactics have been unfolded in a series of movement defeats and state’s selective repressions in the 2010s. In contrast, the traditional pro-democracy activists remained relatively optimistic toward the incumbent elites and institutionalized politics during most of the time after 1997. Political tensions within the pro-democracy movement persisted in the 2010s until the threats of the 2019 Extradition Bill controversy were immense enough to diminish the perceptual differences between the two camps. In conclusion, my research uncovers the processes of change in the perceived opportunities and threats through a generational perspective and underscores the importance of the generational experiences in shaping strategic choices.
Keywords: strategy, political opportunities, threats, perceptions, political generations
Krini Kafiris
Rethinking Social Movement Demobilisation in Greece: The Politics of Burnout
Abstract: Common-sense activist narratives in Greece have tended to focus on the inevitability of demobilisation or on its cyclical nature -- due to the overwhelming external pressures of acute economic crisis, neoliberal authoritarianism and state violence, as well as due to the needs and personal limitations of participants. What is often missing in these narratives is acknowledgement of the roles that particular political/organisational cultures and practices have played in demobilisation. This has discursively denied agency to social movement groups and has effaced different voices and experiences of participants within them. It has also made the search for other, more sustainable forms of organising, seem ‘unrealistic’ and utopian. In this paper, I will discuss demobilisation in terms of burnout – conceptualised as a deeply political issue. Next, drawing from my participation in activist groups, research and my experiences as a trainer in gender issues and sustainable organising, I will use the concept of burnout to rethink recent demobilisation in Greece, especially since 2015. Voices and experiences which are often not heard or taken seriously will be foregrounded as well as the common-sense, gendered assumptions and organisational practices which are implicated with burnout, and which work as obstacles to long-term participation in collective action. Finally, I will discuss the need for sustainable organising, and in particular the creation of organisational/activist cultures of care and spaces of collective reflection/learning – which can prevent burnout and support long-term struggles for radical change.
Keywords: demobilisation, burnout, Greece, narratives, sustainable, care
12.45 – 13.45
Lunch Break
13.45 – 15.15
Simultaneous Session 6
Session 6A
Chair: Ben Manski
Zoom host: Luke Yates
Aidan McGarry (Loughborough )
Protest as Political Voice: LGBT/Queer Mobilization in India
Abstract: This paper will make a case for political voice as a useful academic concept which cuts across disciplinary boundaries. Political voice must be broad because marginalized groups use multitudinous creative collective actions to be seen and heard. Moreover, political voice ruptures democratic spaces creating new opportunities to be heard, for new voices to emerge thus demonstrating the regenerative and constitutive qualities of voice. Political voice is a metaphorical cry, shout, or demand to be heard which pierces the façade of ‘proper’ politics. This paper explores the relationship between protest and political voice in the context of LGBT/Queer mobilization in India. The research is based on field research (including interviews and participant observation) in Mumbai and Delhi at queer pride events since 2018 when homosexuality was decriminalized. The paper discusses issues of collective and public agency, visibility, public space and explores how political voice constitutes communities through autonomous acts. It attends to the central claims and demands of the queer community as well as efforts to include hijra (trans) voices, address issues of caste and class whilst challenging societal discrimination through protest.
Keywords: Voice, India, LGBT/Queer, Pride, Constitution, Autonomy
Athanasia Francis (University of Liverpool)
“Fire to the Rapists!”: Affective Activism in the Feminist Spring
Abstract: The last half of this decade has witnessed an unprecedented transnational feminist activist response to gender violence and to institutional failures to address it. Activists across countries and continents joined a collective call to protest the ideologies and power structures, and take matters into their own hands. March 2018 (8M) became the new feminist activist milestone after the global mobilisation of millions. The mobilisations in Spain and the autonomous regions, particularly the Basque Country, were the biggest in Europe and they continued, further fuelled by the judicial decision to allow the members of the gang ‘la Manada’ to walk free after the rape of a young woman in Pamplona during local festivities. Every city and town in the Basque Country and Spain hosted feminist activist demonstrations in response. This new feminist dynamic crossed local borders and aligned with international feminist movements (like the Ni Una Menos), and other social movements with intersected agendas (LGBTQΙ+, anti-fascist, anti-capitalist) from Chile to Greece. The notion of autodefensa (self-defence) became central within this affective activism, and manifested itself in various forms: from physical force and self-protection devices to the creation of safe community spaces; overall, it implied developing and implementing a collective strategy of resistance. If institutions guaranteeing women’s safety are likely to be the offenders, and if justice fails to recognise the impact of gender violence on victims’ lives, what is the alternative? For feminist activists struggling against failed systems and lack of accountability, the answer became assigning this task to themselves.
Keywords: Feminist activism, 8M, gender violence, solidarity, transnational, affect
Tammy Kovich
After the Commune: The Anti-Colonialism of Louise Michel
Abstract: One of the most infamous participants in the Paris Commune, Louise Michel was a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, she rarely gets the attention that she deserves. Like many revolutionary women of the period, Michel prioritized taking action over writing theory. She made incalculable contributions to struggle, however due to her lack of explicitly theoretical writings (and undoubtedly her gender) she has mostly been relegated to the position of a minor figure in anarchist history and is rarely recognized as a contributor to anarchist thought. This is a mistake. In many ways Michel was ahead of her time and had an understanding of power and oppression that was better developed than many of her male contemporaries. She had an analysis of not only the state, capitalism, and religion, but also of gender and eventually of colonialism. Louise ended up being one of the first French anti-imperialists, and was also one of the first European anarchists to consider anti-colonialism. While Michel’s participation in the Paris Commune is quite well known, familiarity with her life beyond the event is far less common. For her role in the uprising, Michel was sentenced to lifetime exile in the French colony of New Caledonia in the Southwestern Pacific. During her time there, she was one of the few exiles to take interest in and develop relationships with the island’s indigenous population, the Kanak. When a Kanak uprising broke out on the island, Louise was virtually the only communard who supported it. This was no insignificant thing – it alerted Michel to the serious shortcomings of communard politics and led her to incorporate anti-colonialism into her understanding of anarchism. My paper explores the evolution of Michel’s politics following the Commune, examines her unique contributions to anarchist thought, and considers the various lessons that can be drawn from her experiences.
Keywords: Louise Michel; anarchism; anti-colonial struggle; gender; revolutionary history
Tayrine Dias
Feminist strikes in Spain: open-ended (re)configurations of feminist activisms towards societal change
Abstract: The 2018 and 2019 feminist strikes in Spain were multitudinous: at least hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest on March 8 and around five millions workers went on partial or 24-hour labor strikes both years. Inspired by previous mobilizations in Latin America and Europe, feminist activists (re)claimed and (re)imagined a classic repertoire of contention: they called for labor, student, care and consumption strikes. The strikes were conceived, organized and performed by national and local-level networks of activists who joined efforts to debate, enact and connect through contentious practices. The feminist strikes were groundbreaking for feminist movements at least in Spain if not in Europe, considering its transnational spillover with feminist strikes taking place in Germany, Portugal, Belgium and France, among others. The feminist strikes in Spain did not lead to the formation of 'a' new social movement in itself, but they cannot be reduced to a one-day public campaign. This is a case of women on the move: organizing strikes led to the very (unfinished) agentic process of (re)shaping alliances, political practices and political projects that put into question the taken-for-granted, the status-quo, the unsaid or the absent across intersecting dimensions of race, class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality to (re)imagine the future in a context of systemic crisis. Which (re)configurations of feminist activisms did the journey towards the feminist strikes propel? How did these groups (re)signified ‘strike’? Which contradictions, dilemmas or conflicts emerge from these disputes for different ways to understand feminism activisms and feminist contentious practices? To answer these questions, I conducted an extensive two-year fieldwork in Barcelona following meetings, events and protests, and analyzed material from semi-structured interviews, participant observation, documents and newspaper articles.
Keywords: feminist strikes; feminist activisms, feminist political practices; collective agency
Session 6B
Chair: Ashjan Ajour
Zoom host: Simin Fadaee
Jan Sändig & Jana Hönke (University of Bayreuth)
Are Chinese and Western mining companies differently contested?
Abstract: While Western companies have operated in the African mining sector for decades, Chinese companies are newcomers. They reportedly perform worse in social and environmental standards than their Western counterparts. This could lead to more intense contestations at Chinese mining sites. Yet, scholars have hardly studied whether affected communities and civil society networks contest Chinese and Western mining projects differently. More broadly, the role of investor origin for local and transnational activism against mining companies has been largely overlooked. To address these gaps, I examine a medium-sized sample of investments from two African mining hotspots: Guinea’s bauxite sector and the copper and cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Conducting a comparative analysis, this study applies contentious politics theories and conducts content analysis through MAXQDA. As preliminary findings show, Chinese and Western mining projects do not become much differently contested. The protest incidence, tactics, and political opportunities for contention are similar in most regards. While the analysis also highlights differences of political opportunities and framing processes, these seem to hardly affect the occurrence of protest. Rather than investor origin, I argue that the country-level political context, place-based circumstances at the mine site, and political opportunities related to the mined resources shape these contestations.
Keywords: Contentious politics, mining conflict, China in Africa, Guinea, DRC
Francis Akena Adyanga and Norma Romm (Kabale University, Uganda & University of South Africa, South Africa)
Collective action for regeneration of the chain of life in the face of disruptive injustice: The case of a Ugandan community
Abstract: This paper explores the ways in which collective awareness of possibilities to act in the face of social and environmental justice became activated in a community in Uganda. We concentrate on community participants’ joint reflections around the operations of a foreign-owned factory that was set up in Koch Goma Subcounty, Nwoya District in northern Uganda. The factory was set up for the purposes of agroprocessing of fresh cassava to produce denatured alcohol that could be used for cooking and lighting purposes. In principle, the (constructive) idea as mooted to the locals was that the company would contribute to the local economy in various ways, for example, by employing workers in the processing factory and also by paying for the production by local farmers of the needed cassava. However, our research – based on the facilitation of four focus groups in the area – led to the conclusion that the mode of operandi of the factory turned out in the main to be a source of anguish to the locals. Their experiences, as reflected upon in their community meetings and further discussed in the focus group fora that we set up, have demonstrated that unregulated operation of foreign owned investments can become a major source of poverty, economic disempowerment, and public health concern. The paper focuses on some of the ways in which community participants developed a sense of collective agency to draw the attention of the district leadership and national environmental protection agencies to the disruptive effects of this factory (as well as by a road construction company that was also foreign-owned) and how this panned out to date.
Keywords: community-oriented knowing processes, building collective agency, environmental protection, social and environmental justice, Ubuntu
Rafael Kruter Flores (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul)
The struggle against mining in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Abstract: This paper aims at giving visibility to a process of struggle that oppose the new phase of extractivism in south Brazil. In a context in which environmental legislation is being dismantled, in the last years, more than 5 thousand mining research requirements were made in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Among these, 166 projects are moving forward, and four of them are of huge impact in nature and livelihood: Retiro (extraction of titanium); Três Estradas (phosphate); Caçapava (lead, zinc and copper); and Mina Guaíba (extraction of coal mining). The last would be the largest open-pit mineral coal mine in Brazil, despite international tendencies shown by some countries that have started to shut down their coal mines, seeking for cleaner and renewable energy sources. In this scenario, since 2019, different entities (environmental organizations, researchers, parliamentarians, social movements, unions, student collectives etc.) have organized around an anti-mining committee to articulate different processes of struggle in the state, the Comitê de Combate à Megamineração no Rio Grande do Sul. The Committee organizes in three fronts: technical/legal, communication and mobilization. The main actions realized by the Committee are awareness activities at fairs and events, production of technical analyses and participation and promotion of events such as seminars, workshops and public hearings. In this process, the Committee has become the main social actor in the mobilization against the Mina Guaíba, and an important space to catalyse the struggle against mining in Rio Grande do Sul.
Keywords: extractivism; mining; social struggle; social movements.
Sadique PK (English and Foreign Language University Hyderabad)
Green Islam and Re -Imagination of Khalifa: Eco Politics and Muslim Social movements in South India
Abstract: This paper looks at the ways in which the Muslim Movements after 1990s respond to the question of ecological crisis and crisis democracy in India by invoking their own resources as a claim to belonging and social performance. For that purpose this paper will try to understand the South Indian Muslim Youth organization, Solidarity youth movement Kerala’s attempt to engage environmental discourse by radically reinterpreting their ideological stand point in response to changing social process. South Indian state Kerala is known as role model for social and political development for Global south. It is well recognized that unique characteristics of Kerala model was the result of public action/public politics. The internal contradiction with in a late socialist model, global decline of left and changing political scenario after 1990 have led to the emergence post left political activism in Kerala. 1990s also marks the one of the changing moment in Indian History, politics and social life as well by the emergence of various new social actors in public sphere. Solidarity Youth Movement emerged in Kerala during this period with unique style of Islamic activism by absorbing emancipatory aspect of religion and radical form of eco politics. Solidarity youth movement evolved a distinct language of Muslim politics by involving many grass root people struggle across Kerala against Neo Liberal Developmental practices, Human Right Violations, Ecological issues , Land right struggles by Dalit and Tribal. Solidarity claimed that their idea is to recognizes the search for social liberation from all power organized as inequality, discrimination, exploitation, and domination and charting a de-colonial future and in essence rediscovering and trying to put into praxis a theology of Islamic liberation. Hence, solidarity identifies the ecological crisis and social political implications as violation of divine guidance and ones who couldn't absorb ecological morality. Proper care of earth is not possible without ecological morality. And care of earth is entitled upon human beings as Khalifa (vicergent) of Allah. Some of their Theo political articulation and mediations with traditions is very novel and innovative and some of them are they are absorbing from existing literature. Based on my field materials will examine the Muslim Movements’ contribution and engagements in environmental movements and how Muslim identity conceptualizes the environmental discourse within the larger eco political discourse. And it will critically look how the Muslim actors use their own resources to interpret/reinterpret their new political articulation. I will argue that the emergence of this new Muslim green politics should be understood in the context of citizenship politics that evolve around ethical considerations in a risk society. Chapter also looks how this movement would also manoeuvre between the various imaginations of social action and transformation available to us, especially in the context of social movements and reflect on the limitations and possibilities of this transformation itself by drawing insight from social movement theory, debates on Islam, secularism, citizenship and political theology.
Session 6C
Chair: Kai Heidemann
Zoom host: Sofia Tipaldou
Barbara Narciso Jacyntho (University College Dublin)
Racial Identities Beyond Border Imperialism: the work of a mestiça
Abstract: Border imperialism has had a long lifetime – never-ending, assuming other forms and mechanisms through which to operate. According to Walia, the universalization of Western arrangements outside of its own borders strengthened its power through physical and psychological separations against bodies marked by their races, working as the basis to maintain the myth of Western superiority. Focusing on the book Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldua, this paper aims to reflect on the struggles and discoveries of the mestiza in the un-doing of borders - enabling the coalescence of what once was fragmented by the sharp blade of border imperialism, a decolonial turn. I bring reflections on Anzaldua’s piece in dialogue with a Brazilian black scholar and activist, Lelia Gonzales, who dedicated her life’s work to transforming Brazilians’ perceptions of their cultural and racial identities into something other, bigger, and more meaningful than what colonialism made us believe we were – being the structures of ‘racial democracy’ that has contained them. Her main proposition centers on the re-imagining of Latin America as a ‘Latin Amefrica’, having more of Africa in their cultures and practices than of Europe and North America. Being myself a Brazilian woman, marked by the conjunction of Indigenous, African, and European ancestries and thinking with and through the work of Anzaldua and Gonzales, I attempt to theorize my own Brazilian mestiça Self, beyond these borders, towards Latin Amefrica futures.
Keywords: Border Imperialism; Racial Identities; Decoloniality; Mestiça; Intersectionality
Katie Ismay (Leeds Beckett)
How does the (re) emergence of the far-right shape ‘ethnic minority’ perceptions of ‘Britishness’?
Abstract: Polarisation is evident in a post Trump, Brexit society due to the rise of nationalist populism and contention from the liberal left; with tensions prevalent when challenging the injustices faced by racialised minority groups. The denial of systemic and institutionalised forms of racism within the nationalist populist movement serves to alienate minority communities and further enforce ‘the Racial contract’ (Mills, 1997). This research presents tentative findings in response to the question: “How does the (re) emergence of the far-right shape ‘ethnic minority’ perceptions of ‘Britishness’?”. It draws on empirical data from 20 semi-structured narrative interviews with local men and women within a West Yorkshire jurisdiction; an area with a complex history in terms of community cohesion due to ‘White flight’ and associations with radicalisation. Using thematic analysis and a Critical Race Theory lens, the concepts of ‘orientalism’, ‘Whiteness’ and the ‘invisible touch of race’ (Tate, 2014) are discussed in line with ‘Britishness’ to gain a greater understanding of how minority groups are ‘othered’ by the current nationalist populist discourse .The project presents individual testimonies of racialised minorities experiencing transparent forms of alienation at the hands of Far-right affiliated groups to discreet, pedestrian and ‘invisible’ racism. Exploring the impact of nationalism and its ability to transcend racial lines, this research finds the far right (re) emergence detrimental. Though British, participants sense of citizenship and belonging is being challenged by experiences of racism; the associations between ‘Britishness’ and ‘Whiteness’ and the Islamophobic, anti-migrant and orientalist sentiments perpetuated by the ruling Conservative government.
Keywords: Britishness, Nationalism, Racism, Whiteness, Orientalism, Belonging
Kostas Kanellopoulos (University of Crete)
Social movements in EU politicization processes: The case of Greece
Abstract: Drawing on the literature on the ‘integration-demarcation’ cleavage that presents globalization and denationalization as a major force that transforms the basis for political competition in Europe we focus on the politicization of European integration in Greece and its implications in its political system. EU politicization points to crucial changes in patterns of support and/or opposition in European integration. Aiming to distinguish and compare the several styles of political debates on European unification processes in a national case study, we analyze these patterns of support and opposition in a long-term perspective. The political debate on European integration was highly conflictual during the country’s accession to the EEC in the 1970s, then the style of the debate became more neutral and/or consensual once membership became routinized to become more conflictual again in more recent years. The pattern of public discourse, we want to explain, covers four dimensions: position, direction, intensity, and polarization. By applying the discursive actor attribution approach, in which a sender attributes the responsibility of an evaluated object to an addressee, we gain a deeper understanding of which integration policies, were supported/opposed by whom with relation to which arguments in the whole period beginning in 1974 when Greece was reconnected to the then EEC until today. In this paper we examine in particular the role of social movements in Greece regarding EU integration as this role is manifested in political and social protests throughout the 1974-2019 period. The data stems from newspaper reporting and is part of a 3-year research project ( funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research & Innovation (HFRI).
Keywords: politicization, EU integration, demarcation, protest, Greek politics
Olena Nikolayenko (Fordham University)
Mass Support for Anti-Government Protests in Belarus
Abstract: Drawing on the case of the 2020 protests in Belarus, this study examines determinants of support for mass mobilization in an authoritarian regime. The paper argues that support for the incumbent has direct and indirect effects on mass attitudes toward anti-government protests. Public approval of the authoritarian ruler reduces positive attitudes toward pro-democracy protests. In addition, support for an autocrat affects mass perceptions of police violence, which in turn shape public opinion about a protest movement. Supporters of the incumbent are prone to dismiss claims about disproportionate use of forces against participants in anti-government protests and subsequently exhibit less sympathy for the pro-democracy movement. To gauge individual-level variation in support for protests in a contemporary autocracy, the study leverages unique data from a survey of the urban population (N=884) conducted in the midst of some of the largest anti-government protests in Belarus since the collapse of communism. The multivariate analysis provides robust empirical support for the main argument. The results also indicate that the interactive effect of support for the autocrat and perceived state repression has a statistically significant impact only on extremely strong opinions about the protest movement. These findings highlight the intricate effects of political orientations on mass attitudes toward a protest movement. Moreover, the study enhances our understanding of divergent effects of state repression on public opinion about a social movement.
Keywords: authoritarianism; state repression; political support; Belarus
Session 6D
Chair: Benjamin Abrams
Zoom host: Meghan Tinsley
Frankie Hines (University of Westminister)
Against Prefiguration: An Anarchist Iconoclasm
Abstract: Can prefigurative politics, so often identified as a central, essential feature of anarchist theory and practice, be knocked off its perch? This paper offers a critique, in the spirit of anarchist iconoclasm, that calls into question the primacy afforded to prefiguration. Departing from familiar debates that pit prefiguration against strategy, this paper critically assesses the continued relevance of prefiguration for anarchist thought. The first part of the paper contends that the connection between prefiguration and anarchism is much weaker than is frequently imagined, and that prefiguration continues to be ascribed such a pivotal role in accounts of anarchist theory largely due to a continued, unacknowledged commitment to Marxism as a category through which anarchism is understood. The second part of the paper highlights contradictions between efforts to establish prefiguration as one of a number of essential features of anarchist thought and efforts to define anarchism that specifically disavow the existence of any such essential qualities. Examining claims for this fundamental centrelessness in anarchism, I propose that it is both inherently opposed to claims for prefiguration’s centrality, and prima facie a more convincing and more useful approach. In the paper’s third and final part I respond to the vexed issue of prefiguration’s relation to violence. How can an overriding emphasis on “being the change one wishes to see” be reconciled with the fact, recognised by anarchism in its most compelling articulations, that violence is an unavoidable feature of politics and of life?
Keywords: prefigurative politics, anarchism, anarchist theory, violence
Jamie Matthews (Goldsmiths)
Waters Rising: Navigating the hydropolitical.
Abstract: The language of water is everywhere in the metaphors we bring to social movements: Waves of contention; tides and mareas; ripple effects; infiltration; the social envisaged by way of streams, rivers and pressure hydraulics. During the recent Hong Kong protests it quickly became a commonplace to praise tactics that, ‘like water’, found power in motion and flow. Water also constitutes an elemental feature of a number of popular struggles, whether they mobilise to avenge its pollution, to protect from its destructive powers, or to demand a right of access to this fundamental social and human good. Examples go back to ancient times, but these movements have intensified since the 1990s, through the confluence of climate crisis and neoliberal commodification. In them water is a material and resource, but also a terrain and an actor in its own right; a spirit, a friend and a monster. The Sioux-led movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline insisted ‘Water Is Life’. It is also a life. This paper takes the case of one recent ‘water movement’ – the UK anti-fracking movement of the 2010s – to sketch the coordinates of a ‘hydropolitical’ assemblage whose material and poetic connections reach across the field of diverse water movements. In particular, the paper critically explores three of water’s powers - as resource; as symbol; and as agency -and their role in shaping the movement and its capacities. Through an open discussion of these themes, the paper aims to indicate the growing importance of understanding the ‘hypropolitical’ in our times, while also addressing how water metaphors ‘enact’ (Law and Urry 2011) particular social ontologies that can both constrain and potentiate movement scholarship.
Keywords: Water; social movements; anti-fracking; climate change; assemblage theory
Andy Blunden & John Krinsky
Social Movements as Phases in the Life-Cycle of Collaborative Projects: A Cultural-Historical Approach
Abstract: This paper argues that only a fundamental shift in our approach to movements will allow us to understand their significance and meaningfully situate their elements. Building at once on Hegel, Marxist scholarship on movements, and Cultural Historical Activity Theory, a school of Soviet psychology based the work of LS Vygotsky, we posit that the concept of a “collaborative project” composed of the directed activity of multiple people over time is the larger phenomenon of which movements are only one part. Collaborative projects have life-cycles—unlike human life-cycles, and different from social movement waves or cycles—and campaigns and social movements are phases or aspects of these projects’ life-cycles. Collaborative projects are the basis upon which groups of people build collective, local rationalities and structures of feeling. But people may also be involved in many collaborative projects at once, projects whose development leads to collective subjectification on a number of different bases, depending on the way in which activity is organized and its inherited language. Cox and Nilsen (2013) discuss social movements from below as a process that builds from “local rationalities” to “militant particularisms” as new projects develop in opposition to dominant others, and into “campaigns” as projects of struggle become united across time and space. They reserve the term “social movement project” for situations in which multiple campaigns come together in a common, collaborative process of radical subjectification, as, when in the 1960s, people spoke of “the movement” rather than this or that movement. The paper develops the concept of project life-cycles as against the concepts of waves or cycles of movements, emphasizing the ways in which temporally, movement phases of projects may lend projects a kind of temporal immortality—or at least a long tail—that we miss if we focus only on movement or campaign decline.
Keywords: Collaborative Projects, Life-Cycle, Social Movements, Campaigns, Waves
Theodoros Karyotis (Ghent University)
Shifts in political subjectivation through a decade of mobilisation in Greece
Abstract: In this presentation I trace the mutations in political subjectivation in Greece through three important moments in the latest cycle of mobilisation: the December 2008 revolt, the square occupations of 2011, and the referendum of 2015. In all these events, political time was condensed, bringing forth different, overlapping but divergent, contentious imaginaries. First, in December 2008, a complete absence of demands and the dissolution of all insurgent identities into a collective and peculiar “we” signified a break not only with the political establishment, but also with the accepted forms of political struggle and dissidence. I examine this event in reference to John Holloway’s non-identitarian political philosophy. Second, like in many other countries at that time, the Greek squares in 2011 were constituted as a network of porous, open-ended and self-organised processes, as an ongoing negotiation to give content and meaning to the occupied urban space. I approach this event as an example of the politics of inclusion and multiplicity propounded by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Lastly, the collapse of the traditional two-party system under the weight of austerity politics gave rise to a new hegemonic party, Syriza, which created an antagonistic frontier between the people and the elites, and attempted to represent the diverse aspirations and demands of the former, condensed in the empty signifier of hope. Here I mobilise Ernesto Laclau’s discourse theory, approaching the crisis as a large-scale dislocation which allowed a new hegemonic power to emerge out of a chain of equivalences, all those who suffer under austerity. In all three cases, the focus is on the processes of subjectivation. By juxtaposing Holloway’s self-negating proletariat, Hardt and Negri’s diverse multitude and Laclau’s hegemonic people, I propose a tentative framework for understanding the development of social struggles in Greece from the viewpoint of the collective subject, with the aim of linking this discussion back to the debates within the social movements.
Keywords: political subjectivation, mobilisation, Greece, multitude, populism
15.15 – 15.30
Comfort Break

The Futures of Social Movement Research

What are the challenges facing protest and movement scholarship? How can we study mobilization and contentious politics in the Global South? How will the challenges facing movements today affect the activism that we will see tomorrow? What tools and sources can researchers and activists draw on to record, analyze, and publicize mobilization?

To answer these and more questions, we have assembled a group of protest scholars drawn from sociology and political science. As well as hearing from our panelists, we will also ask the audience to share their perspectives on the future directions of social movement research.

Roundtable Speakers

profile picture of Kate Alexander
Kate Alexander is a professor of sociology at the University of Johannesburg where she holds the South African Research Chair in Social Change. She is currently working on Covid and Civil Society in South Africa and protests in Africa.
profile picture of Diana Fu
Diana Fu is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto and a fellow at Brookings, the Wilson Center, and the National Committee on US-China Relations. She is author of the award-winning book, Mobilizing without the Masses (Cambridge, 2017). She studies contentious politics, civil society, and state control in contemporary China.
profile picture of Ali Kadivar
Mohammad Ali Kadivar is Assistant Professor of Sociology and International Studies in Boston College. His work contributes to political and comparative historical sociology by exploring the interactions between protest, organization, political regimes, development, and inequality. Kadivar's academic work has been published in journals such as the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Comparative Politics, Mobilization, and Socius.
profile picture of Neil Ketchley
Neil Ketchley is a political scientist at the University of Oslo. From September, he will be Associate Professor in Politics at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. His most recent book, Egypt in a Time of Revolution (Cambridge 2017) won the 2018 Charles Tilly Award. Neil’s research on protest and activism has been published in journals such as American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, and Mobilization. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the 1919 Egyptian Revolution.
profile picture of Sidney Tarrow
Sidney Tarrow is the Emeritus Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government at Cornell University and Adjunct Professor at the Cornell Law School. He came to Cornell in 1973, with a PhD from Berkeley and after teaching at Yale. His most recent books are Power in Movement (third edition, Cambridge, 2011), Strangers at the Gates (Cambridge 2012), The Language of Contention (Cambridge 2013), and War, States, and Contention (Cornell 2015). He has recently co-edited (with David S. Meyer) The Resistance: The Dawn of the Anti-Trump Opposition Movement (Oxford, 2018). His forthcoming book, Movements and Parties (Cambridge 2021) is a historical and comparative analysis of the interactions between social movements and parties during five critical junctures of American history.

Wednesday 9th June

9.30 – 11.00
Simultaneous Session 8
Session 8A
Chair: Aylwyn Walsh
Zoom host: Joshua Bunting
Cedomir Vuckovic (University of Manchester)
Habermas, Foucault, and Neoliberal Activism in Higher Education
Abstract: The colonization of higher education (Habermas, 1987) is felt most acutely through the ongoing, and intensifying marketization and commodification of universities (Jutten, 2013) emblematic of neoliberalism. Permeating the very core of the academy, neoliberal discourses have penetrated the everyday lives of academics, support and administrative staff (see Geppert and Hollinshead, 2017), but perhaps most intensely, students. Existing research examining the effects of these changes, however, has largely failed to consider the significance of neoliberal discourses on the everyday lives of students outside their interactions with the institution. Moreover, research on student activism is yet to recognise that these particular neoliberal discourses, and consequently the cultural resources available to student-activists (Poletta, 2004), have also impacted the ways students do activism. HE’s colonization (Habermas, 1987, Jutten, 2013) has dramatically changed the prevailing culture in English institutions, and consequently, certain strategies of resistance have been made increasingly difficult, while other avenues of resistance have opened up (Binder and Wood, 2013). For a newly formed group of anti-sexual harassment campaigners at a London university, this change in university culture has created new harvestable cultural and social resources for collective action (Jasper, 1997; Poletta, 2004) in the form of neoliberal discourse. In dialogue with Foucault’s (1977; 1978) theorising on power and discourse, and Habermas’s (1984; 1987) colonization thesis, this paper discusses findings from a mixed-methods ethnographic project that explored student protest in a London university. Following the case of an anti-sexual harassment group, this paper argues some students have co-opted the neoliberal discourses of consumerism, ‘branding’, and information dissemination in order to, in their words, ‘end sexual harassment on university campuses’. In engaging with these discourses, students are attempting to affect the student body itself, rather than challenge sexual harassment at the level of the institution. Their strategies exemplify how students engage with both instrumental and communicative forms of interaction in order to affect change within the university social body.
Keywords: Higher educaiton; aesthetics; sexual harassment; neoliberalism
Joshua Bunting (University of Manchester)
The 2010-14 Student Movement and The Making of Political Consciousness
Abstract: EP Thompson famously opened The Making of the English Working Class with the statement that “The working class did not rise like the sun at an appointed time. It was present at its own making.” (1963/2013, p.8). Thompson describes this making as a process, a relationship between historical agents and society in motion around them (Meiksins Wood, 2015). This article aims to apply a similar analysis on a smaller scale, describing how people active in the UK free education movement developed a political consciousness. Using 28 oral history interviews with activists from the movement, I will describe three different processes, confirmation, realisation and radicalisation, that participants in the UK free education movement went through during their political lives. Participants described different processes at different points in their histories, and I use Thompson’s concept of experience to describe how these individuals interacted with events, political structures and other activists. This experiential approach allows for an account of social movement actors imbued with agency and efficacy in their actions, while respecting the limitations imposed on them by a society in process (Meiksins Wood, 2015). Participants describe complex processes relying on contingency, relational interactions with groups and structures, and periods of reflection in which they reassess their political outlook. By looking at these processes over time, the world of social movements is revealed as a rich ecology of political cultures, sometimes in moments of direct contestation, other times in periods of abeyance (Taylor, 1989). The findings of this study show that these periods of abeyance are crucial, and that we should consider movements as existing over longer periods of time than individual campaigns or protests. I also propose that by exploring life histories in this detailed way can allow us to see vectors moving through activist cultures over time (Gillan, 2020).
Keywords: Student movement, consciousness, movement culture, oral history, experience
Natalie Rojas (Universitat de Girona)
The Feminisation of the Chilean Student Movement
Abstract: The Chilean student movement has always raised social demands for access and the right to education. From the resistance to and confrontation with the military dictatorship brought on by the "University Reform of 1968" through the Confederation of Students of Chile, it reached its maximum expression with the cycle of protests beginning in 2011 demanding FREE QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION. However, in May 2018, women within the student organizations denounced the fact that beyond the historical and visible gains in education through reforms and new laws, gender and feminism demands had not been addressed by educational establishments or by the leadership of the student movement: Sexual harassment, macho treatment and abuse by teachers and other students. The hypotheses of the investigation are: - Women demands within the student movement generate hostilities, tensions, and divisions within it. - The pressure of women participants in the Chilean student movement produces a change of direction and with it a reinvention of the social movement, which is redefined from that moment on. The research questions arise: How is the Chilean student movement reconfigured and feminized after the irruption of women within it? By way of preliminary conclusions, we can point out that the feminist movement is the promoter and catalyst of a phenomenon of deconstruction of Chilean society, which ranges from the domestic to the cultural and the political. Social movements have feminised themselves and are feminist from their internal definition of who they are and where they want to go. On the other hand, the feminist student movement is considered the window of opportunity for women and feminism to establish and define transcendental political processes such as the current constituent process, which is a pioneer in terms of parity.
Keywords: Social movements, feminism, feminization, student movement
Rubkwan Thammaboosadee (Bangkok University)
Story(re)telling by the Oppressed: The power of storytelling in high school student movements against the dictated school rules amid far-right neoliberal Thailand
Abstract: This paper focuses on the power of storytelling in a high-school student movement which is often undermined in social movements studies in Thailand. In 2020, thousands of young protesters gathered on the streets for several occasions against the far-right neoliberal and dictatorial state. The movement has crucially shifted the political landscape in Thailand stirring the need for a democratic reform among the Thai younger generation. Although the main goal of the movement is to overthrow the regime, this paper aims to focus on a sub movement organised by high school students who called to liberate from oppressed power in their closest sector, a school. This article explores the power of storytelling performed by students for retelling, reframing and most importantly reclaiming the power and freedom in a school. The lens of performance studies highlighting the significance of storytelling and narratives are employed to reveal how the movement has emotionally united participants and culturally brought the sense of the collective act. Three specific cases are drawn on for a discussion -- a rewritten moral song, the resistance shown during the school's morning ceremony, and the redefinition of school uniforms. These three cases were staged to confront the dictating rules manifesting a body-subject as a battlefield and retelling the story of the Oppressed. This paper suggests that the role of storytelling engaging with time, space, narratives, emotions, characters, and audiences played an important role in rehearsing and cultivating a social change from the microstructure. This paper ultimately argues that the power of storytelling with its openness and room for imagination has illuminated how the politics of a story, language, body, and emotion can empower a collective action to support the larger goal of structural change for democratic reform in the country.
Keywords: students, movements, storytelling, narratives, imaginaries
Session 8B
Chair: Eeva Houtbeckers
Zoom host: Steven Speed
Andrea Schikowitz and Nina Pohler (University of Vienna and University of Applied Arts )
Relational creation of alternativeness in collaborative housing groups in Vienna
Abstract: In Vienna, like in other cities around the globe, a new wave of self-initiated groups who realise collaborative housing (so-called Baugruppen) has recently emerged (Lang & Stoeger, 2018; Mullins & Moore, 2018; Tummers, 2015, 2016). Most of them describe themselves as creating and experimenting with alternative ways of housing and living: They want to create different or alternative spaces, and they want to create space differently – they strive for self-management, collective ownership, different kinds of architectures and different distributions of space between private and collective use, housing, working and public space, etc. In this paper, we analyse how ‘alternativeness’ as a self-identifier is related to quite different constellations of relations and demarcations both within the groups and to other actors, such as professionals, administration or civil society. Using Thévenot’s grammars of commonality (Thévenot, 2014) and ‘diverse economies’ approaches (Gibson-Graham, 1996; Gritzas & Kavoulakos, 2016) as sensitizing concepts, we empirically analyse collaborative housing projects in Vienna and elaborate three different ways of ‘doing alternativeness’. We employ a relational understanding of alternativeness that considers different orientations vis-a-vis the mainstream, regarding a group’s sense-making of and relations to internal and external actors as constitutive for its specific transformative potential as well as in- and exclusions. The empirical data which was produced through a multi-sited ethnography (Hine, 2007) between 2018 and 2020 consists of documents, media articles, interviews and ethnographic observation of public and internal events of Baugruppen in Vienna. For data analysis, we apply qualitative mapping approaches based on situational analysis (Clarke, 2005) and controversy mapping (Marres, 2007, 2015; Venturini, 2010; Whatmore, 2009; Yaneva, 2012) for specifically paying attention to relations between actors and issues.
Keywords: alternativeness, collaborative housing, sense-making, commonality
Miguel A. Martínez (Uppsala)
Housing Activism Facing the Structures of Democratization and Capitalism in Spain: A Socio-Historical and Socio-Spatial Approach
Abstract: The transitional period to a recovered democratic regime in Spain during the late 1970s was substantially shaped by large working-class mobilizations in the domains of socioeconomic production and reproduction. The so-called ‘citizen movement’ championed urban struggles in combination with housing and local political affairs. Despite their decline in the early 1980s, they left a significant mark in the process of democratization. The 1986 integration of Spain in supranational European institutions entailed new stages of capitalist development and social protest. Real estate speculation became the main driver of urban change and shaped the conditions for the emergence and growth of a radical squatting movement. Squatters established self-managed social centers to aggregate various social movements and challenged the 1990s and 2000s cycle of capitalist accumulation. As a response to the 2008 global financial crisis, housing groups associated with neighborhood assemblies, the PAH (Platform for People Affected by Mortgages) and new tenants’ unions took the lead in urban grassroots struggles. This paper provides a general account of the features of these mobilizations and the political economy context with which they interacted. I argue that these expressions of housing activism were not only closely related to other social movements, but, above all, were dependent on specific structural conditions of the Spanish political, economic and housing systems. My analysis also contributes to the interpretations of the changing sociological components of housing struggles in relation to the societal context at large.
Sudhabrata Deb Roy (University of Otago)
The 2020-2021 Farmers’ Struggle in India: A Post-Marxist Detonation?
Abstract: The ongoing farmers’ protests in India against the implementation of a set of neo-liberal farm laws have become one of the longest and most vibrant anti-capitalist movements in recent Indian history. The movement, which has been going on for more than six months as of March 2021, is led by a heterogenous corpus of organisations, ranging from mass organisations under various left-wing political formations to different caste and creed-based organisations. Some of these organisations have also been active perpetrators of gender and caste violence in recent times in addition to being supporters of the ruling government until a few months ago. This diversity in participation, which has been instrumental in taking the movement forward, thus has also raised some pertinent questions about the methodological implementation of Marxist theory in situations where a heterodox set of ideas align for a particular demand-based movement with a variety of ‘subject positions’ (Laclau and Mouffe, 2014: 27, emphasis original), especially in a context as diverse as India. The involvement of the left has failed to generate an overtly leftist consciousness within the movement. The inability of the political formations to ‘control and lead’ the spontaneous activities of the protesting people has resulted in the movement lacking a political legitimacy and finding itself in a quandary in spite of capturing ‘a popular collective will’ (Mouffe, 2018: 21) both among the Indian nationals and the diaspora. This paper analyses the movement through the Post-Marxist and Left-Populism frameworks developed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe and examines whether they can provide an alternative understanding of the farmers’ movement, which can further the integration of the protesting subjects within a progressive agenda that goes beyond the contours of this particular movement.
Keywords: Farmers’ Protests, India, Marxism, Post-Marxism, Left-Populism
Valesca Lima (Maynooth Univesrity)
The Politics of Housing During the Pandemic: Struggles to ‘Stay at Home’ in Brazil and Portugal
Abstract: In this article, I examine how social movements for the right to housing have responded to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Particularly, it sheds light on the protagonism of activists and housing groups as producers of political innovation, knowledge, resistance and transformative possibilities. To this end, I compare two cities, Fortaleza (Brazil) and Lisbon (Portugal). The research provides a fresh approach to changes in social movements and to their concrete contributions to pandemic responses. In this way, this contribution attempts to overcome the current North/South dichotomy or centre/periphery divide in housing and social movements studies that have limited cross-continental approaches. The study shows that groups focused on the right to housing were particularly active in three main models of action: anti-evictions campaigns, new ways of organisation protest, and the creation and expansion of solidarity networks and, in addition to new alternative futures.
Session 8C
Chair: Norma Romm
Zoom host: Matthijs Gardenier
Batuhan Eren (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence )
Love is Over, This is Going to be Turkey': Cathartic Resonance Between the June 2013 Protests in Turkey and Brazil
Abstract: Studies on the diffusion of protests and social movements stress the necessity of geographical, historical, organizational or cultural proximity as facilitating factors for the spread of ideas, frames, identities and repertoires of collective action. Yet in the last two decades, the explosion of various protests across the globe and their mobilizing impact on each other challenged this established view. The interactions between the June 2013 protests in Turkey and Brazil were no exceptions: despite the absence of proximity factors, protests in Turkey were referred to as a source of inspiration by a considerable number of Brazilian protesters. Designed as a case study that investigates the least-likely case of these cross-national protest interactions, this study explores why and how protests inspire other protests in distant and diverse places. To address these questions, I employed Grounded Theory by analyzing twenty-four in-depth interviews with protesters who participated in the June 2013 protests in Brazil. Drawing on the three-stage sentence-by-sentence coding procedure and constant comparison method, I introduced the mechanism of ‘cathartic resonance’ as an explanatory framework for the cross-national spread of protests even in the absence of proximity factors. Cathartic resonance refers to the stimulation of collective agency due to moral shocks that are triggered by the tragedy of a sympathetically identified foreign protester group. In its findings, this study reveals the role of cognitive and emotional processes in the spread of protests, which have been largely neglected in social movement studies. It also aims to further refine the linear and causal theorization of protest diffusion from a more agentic, processual and cultural perspective. Lastly, it applies a relatively innovative method (i.e., Grounded Theory) to this research by demonstrating its potential in social movement research.
Keywords: protests, social movements, diffusion, emotions, grounded theory, qualitative
Brian Callan (Goldsmiths)
Political thinking through emotional encounters with ignorance
Abstract: Based on ethnographic research on Palestinian Solidarity Activism, this paper argues that Weirdness is a political feeling. Taking emotion as a form of ‘wordless knowledge’ (Damasio 2000) the feeling of Weirdness emerges when our expectations fail to describe or accord with the world we encounter. This is not an intense or overwhelming affect, it does not drive us to fight or flight, nor bring us to tears. However, repeated encounters with the ignorance have brought Israeli activists to doubt the validity and logic of hegemonic Zionism. Doubt, Hannah Arendt (1971) believed, was the outcome of Thinking, a human faculty which could condition men against evil-doing. In enabling and augmenting the emergence of doubt, Weirdness is a political emotion which may play a significant role in the impetus for social change.
Keywords: Affect, Social Movements, Israel-Palestine, Phenomenology, Arendt
Mariam Simonishvili (Free University of Tbilisi)
One Month of “Shame”: Dynamic of Students’ Participation in “Shame” Social Protests in Georgia
Abstract: In June of 2019, anti-government social protests took place in Tbilisi, Georgia. The series of social protests, lasting one month, were instigated by the speech delivery of Sergei Gavrilov, a communist party member of the Russian duma, in the parliament of Georgia. In the context where Russia is occupying 20% of Georgian land, the appearance of a representative of the occupant state in the chair seat of Georgian parliament was perceived as “a slap in the face”. Gavrilov’s speech immediately triggered the social mobilization of opposition parties and ordinary citizens, among which students represented a significant force. Although many of the students shared anti-Russian sentiments and indignation against Georgian government and Russia, in general; the participation in different phases of a one-month protest varied significantly and even in some cases resulted in non-participation. The aim of the research is to understand students’ motivation behind participation and non-participation behavior in different cycles of “shame” social protests. A qualitative research approach has been applied. Participant observation and group, in-depth interviews: triads with students from different Universities were conducted. Results revealed, common sentiments as well as subjective attitudes and perceptions that led to individual decisions to join or refrain from participation. The research demonstrated that common grievances are not enough to cause long-lasting, self-sustainable social protest in students. The research is an important contribution to sociological literature on youth activism and social movement participation.
Keywords: Social protests, activism, movement participation, emotions
Thomas Tang Yun-tong
The Emotional Antecedent of Violent Protests: The Case of the Pro-democracy Movement in Hong Kong
Abstract: Recent literature has started to move beyond movement-centric analysis and examine changes and continuities between episodes of contention. These studies, however, have overlooked the role of emotions when answering why certain tactics are abandoned and how new tactics arise. My research analyzes three episodes of pro-democracy conflicts in Hong Kong—the Anti-express rail campaign in 2009-2010, the Umbrella Movement in 2014, and the Anti-extradition bill protests in 2019—and explores how protesters’ changing emotional states and evolving ways of emotional management have given rise to a trend of radicalization. In particular, I interrogate the role of anger in political mobilization, the use and management of anger, the conditions shaping the suppression or expression of hostility towards the state, and the shifting tactical preference in Hong Kong’s civil society. I argue that while the more direct and ferocious expression of anger was tied to a shifting view of the organizational and leadership structure of protests, it was underpinned by protesters’ evolving temporal horizon—a changing expectation and vision of the future—that has emerged since the early 2010s. These changes contributed to a growing acceptance of violent tactics in the late 2010s and gave rise to several important features of the Anti-extradition bill protests in 2019.
Keywords: emotions, tactics, political violence, movement continuities, democracy, Hong Kong
11.00 – 11.15
Comfort Break
11.15 – 12.45
Simultaneous Session 9
Session 9A
Chair: Heidi Morrison
Zoom host: Simin Fadaee
Albeniz Tuğçe (Ahi Evran University)
Identification of the Right to the City in Turkish Urban Studies and in Turkish Urbanization
Abstract: This research examines how the concept of the right to the city took place in the urban planning graduate studies in Turkey and presents how the right to the city concept is discussed in these works. After determining the general characteristics of the studies, which were reached by scanning through the thesis center of the Higher Education Institution, the studies that are open to access were examined in depth through their methodological approaches and focus subjects. Thus, the characteristics of the concept of the right to the city were identified, which problems it was used to seek solutions, and which areas the focus of scientific production on the subject was. The concept of the right to the city has been handled especially in studies dealing with urban struggle, and the activist-researcher identity has been effective in focusing on these studies. In addition, it has been determined which problems are encountered in the (re) production of the space and in which period these problems come to the fore. While the city dwellers, who were displaced during the reproduction of the space, lost their rights and / or had to leave what they lived for years, make it necessary to work on the concept of the right to the city, there has been an increase in studies built on this concept in recent years. While the studies focusing on the concept of the right to the city correspond to especially after 2003 due to the increase in neoliberal urban policies, the increase after 2013 is especially due to the Gezi Park Resistance.
Keywords: right to the city, urban struggle, urban movements, neoliberal urban policies, Turkey
Hans Pruijt (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)
The agency of empty buildings: urban squatting
Abstract: Empty buildings are not only a precondition for urban squatting, they also provide inspiration for it. They can spur the imagination and demonstrate allocation problems and impending urban transformation. Urban squatting tends to take the shape of a contested, but to some extent established informal practice. Involvement of social movement actors consists of promoting it as a form of empowerment when done responsibly, and facilitating and organizing it. Sometimes, empty buildings are so much in limbo that squatting is the only way to use them. Decent housing inexcusably left empty can prompt activists to set up a project to house homeless people: deprivation based squatting. Empty properties that are too expensive, to bad or otherwise unsuitable to be used as regular housing invite people to move in and invest resources, and engage in concerted action to make squatting efficient and fun: squatting as an alternative housing strategy. Empty nonresidential spaces can unleash the imagination of people wishing to establish a social center, venue, artist’s workspace, squatters’ bar, migrant/refugee housing squat etc.: entrepreneurial squatting. An empty building awaiting demolition sends a message to activists, aiming to prevent the destruction of a neighborhood, that it may be not too late to intervene: conservational squatting. Finally, squats can be a source of (counter)power. For activists with political aims outside squatting this fact can make it interesting to latch onto them: political squatting. The squatted domain in a city can be valued to the extent, that people mobilize to extend and defend it. Groups with divergent identities can work together on this. Possibilities include publicized squatting events, institutional engagement directed at legalization, alternative urban development, confrontational action and raising the cost for the adversary.
Keywords: squatting, urban social movements, spatial perspective, divergent identities
Marco Pestana
Urban conflicts and class consciousness: reflections on David Harvey's approach
Abstract: This paper aims to discuss the potencial for the development of a class consciousness by the working class that arise from social movements organized around urban issues. It offers a theoretical approach to this question that builds upon David Harvey’s typology outlined in his artcile “Labor, Capital, and Class Struggle around the Built Environment in Advanced Capitalist Societies”. The main argument is that although Harvey’s typology is useful in many dimensions, it also projects a zero-sum process in which the development of “class consciousness” corresponds to the shrinkage of “community consciousness”. The critique of this logic has as it’s foundations both historical elements in the trajectory of the favelados movement in Rio de Janeiro and aspects of the thought of italian marxist Antonio Gramsci.
Keywords: Social movements, urban conflicts, class consciousness
Peter Cox (Univeristy of Chester)
Making sense of Cycling Activism
Abstract: Cycling activism has a long history and today, a global reach. However, the diverse forms of participation used, the organisational (and non-organisational) structures employed, and the variety of forms of engagement with political and extra political processes, appear to represent very different understandings of citizenship and processes of political and social change envisaged by activists. Through a meta-analysis of a wide variety of cycle activisms, this paper study considers the actions and self-expression of activists though their actions, writings and through the networks and organizations they form, in order to understand how these express underlying assumptions (often not formally articulated) that participants hold about the nature and mechanisms of change. It revisits Lofland’s 1990s work on the American Peace Movement to consider the ways in which diverse activisms with a single uniting feature can be understood as articulations of a range of interlocked and bundled models of change. The paper thus explores the meanings attributed to forms of action by activists themselves and questions simple typological, correlative relationships between organisations, forms, actions and ideology. The paper draws from ongoing extensive empirical study and a history of more 10 years of work with these activist networks in Europe, South Asia, and North and South America. As part of this process of analysis, it also considers the relationship between researcher, activism and activists.
Keywords: Bike activism, citizenship, theory, typology, research ethics
Session 9B
Chair: Johan Gotzsche-Astrup
Zoom host: Kevin Gillan
Alberto Arribas (Maynooth Univesrity)
Collaborative research with social movements. Co-analysis, distributed authority, reciprocity
Abstract: In this paper, I will present nine intertwined dimensions/categories/challenges to be taken into account when embarking in collaborative research with social movement networks. Social movements often operate as reflexive/epistemic communities that conduct research, broadly conceived, as a key element of their political praxis. As scholars, what does it simply to do research with non-academic actors who are ‘expert’ knowledge producers themselves? Can our projects be articulated as a collaborative encounter for the coproduction of knowledge, a dialogue between different types of knowledge and knowledge producers? Can research be designed around questions and problems posed by movement organizations instead of (solely) around disciplinary interests? What ethical, epistemic and methodological challenges arise in this engagement? Collaborative frameworks, shifting from studying social movements to working and thinking together with activists as co-researchers, centrally address the politics of knowledge production, raising critical questions about what the purpose of research is, who is it useful/relevant for, how it is conducted, what knowledges are taken seriously, and who we write for and how. Thus, the in-fieldwork encounter will become a space for critical dialogue, reciprocity, shared authority, co-analysis and co-theorization. The goal/challenge of this ‘collaborative turn’ is threefold. First, collaborative projects must produce knowledge meaningful in scholarly terms, empirically grounded analysis advancing our comprehension of contemporary collective action. Second, by connecting with our co-researchers’ interests and questions, the research project/process must be useful for them, they must be able to use it as they see fit. Finally, by problematizing traditional forms of knowledge production, research collaboration addresses salient debates in social science, and may bring about epistemic and methodological innovation. This is what research collaboration can contribute to the field of social movement studies.
Keywords: Collaborative methodologies, knowledge coproduction, social movement knowledge, coanalysis, epistemic communities
Ángel Barbas Coslado (UNED )
The 15M Movement's production of knowledge: from activist media to independent media
Abstract: The 15M –or Indignados– Movement was a cross-cutting social response to the economic, social and political crisis experienced in Spain since 2008. The demonstrations of 15 May 2011 led to the "tent-city" of Puerta del Sol in Madrid and in many other "tent-cities" which was created in other Spanish cities and in other countries. From then on, the movement was characterised by an intense activity that allowed the emergence of grassroots collectives, sectoral demands (health, education, social services, housing, etc.) and the creation of projects on different areas. 15M was an explosion of creativity that opened windows of opportunity for the expression of citizens and the production of knowledge, and whose social and political impact has become increasingly noticeable over the years. On its tenth anniversary, this paper focuses on a specific angle of 15M as a producer of knowledge: the creation of activist and independent media. From a conceptual framework based on both social movements knowledge production studies and activist media practices theories, fieldwork was carried out in two main phases: firstly, 23 activist communication projects that emerged directly from the 15M Movement were explored; and secondly, the influence of 15M on the creation of independent media was investigated. Through an ethnographic approach, research process included document analysis, participant observation and in-depth interviews with activists and journalists. In our conclusions we highlight that the 15M represented a citizens’ reaction that strengthened the mutual influences between activism and alternative media and established the conditions of possibility for media innovation. We argue that all of this process have allowed the creation of a new media ecology composed by independent critical media which sustain on a social contract between media and users and characterized by a commitment to journalistic ethics, public service values and civic engagement for radical democracy.
Keywords: 15M, social movement, communication, activist media, independent media, knowledge production
Natasha Adams, Laurence Cox, María Llanos del Corral, Gee, Carol Marin Alvarez (Maynooth Univesrity)
What do activists actually need to know? Answers from radical movements across Europe
Abstract: The Ulex Project activist training centre runs courses across Europe supporting radical social movements. Our “Strengthening European Social Movement Ecology” (SESME) project aims to create a container for continuous movement learning, responding to the deep challenges facing struggles for a better world. The goal is a space to support in-depth action learning that ideally builds lasting relationships of learning and reflection in a community of practice. This comes out of our own action learning: our dialogues with movement organisations, course participants’ structured feedback and reshaping of courses in progress, and our own group reflections as trainers. As a training team we have worked on several iterations of an “Ecology of Social Movements” course, supporting activists to reflect on their own practice and organisations in the context of their wider movement and other struggles. SESME aims to develop this experience on a greater scale, perhaps as a year-long blended learning course with a substantially larger number of participants to make a more powerful contribution. The paper reports on our participatory action research process where we are taking the year to develop a community of inquiry around what kinds of training and support movements most need to face existing challenges and bring about wider change. Research began with a seven-language survey of organisers, trainers and others involved in movements across Europe. The paper discusses the findings and limitations of this survey. We have now started small-group conversations with people from different movements, types of organisations, countries and political identities, and the paper discusses the emerging findings. We are also developing a feedback cycle (including this paper), and moving towards creating an advisory group for the project from the research. We hope this paper will contribute not just to SESME but to others thinking strategically about movement learning and development.
Keywords: social movements, learning and knowledge production, popular education, organic intellectuals, strategy, Europe
T Sharkawi (Lancaster)
Acts of whistleblowing as collective action in authoritarian settings: the case of Egypt
Abstract: After a short-lived interlude of democratization ushered in by the Arab uprisings in 2011, Egypt has reverted to a harsher authoritarianism which expanded the role of the military in politics and civil domains in ways unseen before. Following the popularly-backed putsch in 2013, Egypt’s new leadership has taken great pains to consolidate its rule, curbing in the process dissent and curtailing freedom of speech. Various political and legislative measures have been introduced to clamp down on popular mobilization, free speech, civil society, unions and any form of grassroots organizing. But whilst political repression has disintegrated social movements and demobilized seasoned activists, forcing many into exile or silence, new voices from the political peripheries of the Egyptian society responded to a combination of grinding socioeconomic pressure and recurring acts of whistleblowing by taking to the streets in September and October of 2019 and 2020. This new cycle of contentious mobilization in Egypt was later joined by healthcare workers who were encouraged by the outbreak of the coronavirus to speak out against the government publicly, first by taking to social media to expose mismanagement and malpractice within the healthcare sector. These whistleblowing acts by Egyptian healthcare workers eventually escalated to collective claim making and, in some instances, direct action in the form of strikes, sit-ins and protests staged outside Cairo. This paper examines this new cycle of protest in Egypt drawing on qualitative research materials collected from social media, trade union press releases, and interviews conducted with small groups of protesters, activists, trade unionists and healthcare workers. The paper engages with social movement scholarship to argue that individual acts of whistleblowing can coalesce into unconventional forms of collective action that are capable of contentious mobilization that can be effective in a prohibitive authoritarian environment like Egypt.
Keywords: social movements, protest cycles, acts of whistleblowing, authoritarianism, Egypt
Session 9C
Chair: Pieter Rondelez
Zoom host: Martin Greenwood
Sara Ali Burdis (UCD Dublin )
The Gaps in Our Memories are the Gaps in Our Collectives
Abstract: Ireland has a rich history of organised labour and collectivisation in general, which was most recently seen in the mass movements to repeal strict abortion laws, legalise same-sex marriage, and the ongoing Debenhams worker’s strike which is currently at its 333rd day of protest as of writing this proposal. These examples of the strength of grassroots movements in Ireland are inspiring, as are many other similar stories of collectivisation, and are planted firmly in the hearts of many who hope to overcome the capitalist structures of our society. Yet, collectivisation often fails to overcome the racial gaps that transpire within movements, particularly in the West, where the forefront motivations of social movements are to predominantly alleviate the struggles of white and/or native demographics of society which then has a knock-on effect on legislation that is produced as a result of the collective organisation. Without acknowledging the racialised roots of the capitalist structure, many labour and social movements both historically and contemporarily continue to fail to successfully centre the intersection of race and class within discourse and practise, despite the long-standing and interlocking history both identities have. This paper aims to shed light on this gap and by firstly looking at some examples of collectivisation that failed to consider race and ethnicity and produced flawed and often inadequate legislation. Secondly, there will be an analysis of what could be; i.e examples of collective movements that considered the race and class intersection as well as other societal markers of oppression such as gender, and how such movements could hold the key to effective collectivisation that achieves legislation that allows for more than just petit-bourgeoise mimicking. The intention of this paper is to imagine a collectivisation that is deliberate and continuous in its attempts at overhauling what Cedric Robinson called ‘racial capitalism’, which cannot be overcome and alternative futures cannot be imagined until collective movements and memories resist the urge to identify through capitalist colonial paradigms.
Keywords: collectivisation, racial gap, mass movements, legislation, racial capitalism.
Scarlet Harris (University of Manchester)
Islamophobia, anti-racism and the British left: Muslim activists as ‘racialised outsiders’
Abstract: Against a backdrop of racialised nationalism and widespread securitisation of Muslim communities, how are those on the British political left responding to the issue of Islamophobia? Based on a series of qualitative interviews with anti-racist activists in the two British cities of Manchester and Glasgow, this paper considers this question with reference to discussions of Islamophobia and anti-racist work. It draws together empirical accounts from Muslim and non-Muslim anti-racist activists with theoretical contributions from scholars in the field of ‘race’ and racism studies to advance a series of key arguments. Firstly, I suggest that Islamophobia’s articulation via notions of cultural (rather than biological) difference means that the racism at its heart can be difficult to name, and this presents a particular challenge for those on the left. Secondly, the centrality of the figure of ‘the Muslim’ to broader nationalist imaginaries, a recent resurgence in ‘left nationalism’ (Valluvan 2019), and Muslim activists’ experiences in left-wing spaces all point to the left’s own susceptibility to Islamophobia. But accounts by participants also reveal the role played by Muslim activists in ‘stretching’ understandings of – and responses to – Islamophobia within contemporary left-wing movements. Reflecting on the tensions represented by this relationship, I make the case that the role of these activists might usefully be understood via an engagement with Satnam Virdee’s (2014) concept of the ‘racialised outsider’. I conclude the paper with a reflection on solidarity: what might these dynamics mean for building effective and durable anti-racist coalitions in the current moment?
Keywords: racism, Islamophobia, nationalism, anti-racism, left movements
Steve Cushion
German Volunteers in the French Resistance
Abstract: There was an impressive organisation for immigrant workers in France during the 1930s, the Main-d'œuvre Immigrée, composed of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Rumania, German, Austrian as well as Italian antifascist refugees and Spanish veterans of the civil war. Following the German invasion of France, many of these migrants formed an important vanguard of the French resistance. Veterans of the Spanish Civil War of all nationalities were to play a vital role in organising armed resistance to the German occupation of France. German volunteers were an important part of that effort and they carried out some spectacular armed attacks on the German occupying forces. The Travail allemand, was an effort by German speakers to infiltrate the occupation authorities. This organisation, in which women and those of Jewish heritage played a prominent role, spied on the Nazi machine and carried out propaganda amongst the German troops, encouraging resistance and desertion. A very high proportion of these infiltrators paid with their lives, but there was some success and a number of German soldiers were recruited as informants or persuaded to desert. However, the most important desertions were amongst the recruits to the SS from Eastern Europe who engaged in some spectacular mutinies, often killing their German officers in the process. Forty German and Austrian veterans of the International Brigades escaped from internment and fled into the Cévennes mountains where they formed the basis of the guerilla resistance in the region and led the battle to liberate the town of Nîmes. At a time when racism and nationalism are on the rise everywhere, it is useful to look at an example from the past where some courageous militants put their commitment to antifascism before loyalty to the country of their birth. It also shows the importance of organising immigrant workers.
Keywords: anti-Nazi, antifascism, immigrant workers, terrorism, guerrilla, mutiny, desertion, treason
12.45 – 13.30
Lunch Break
13.30 – 15.00
Simultaneous Session 10
Session 10A
Chair: Kostas Kanellopoulos
Zoom host: Simin Fadaee
Dina El-Sharnouby
Countering Authoritarian legitimacy in Egypt: the case of the leftist Revolutionary Socialists
Abstract: Only big coalitions have a chance to challenge authoritarian regimes. The Egyptian revolutionary uprising was no exception in this. One of the interesting traits of the uprising was the unlikely coalition between Islamists and the left which started to shape a decade before the 2011 event. After years of stagnation and fragmentation across the political opposition in Egypt, the beginning to the millennium marks the revival of political and social mobilization. As a new generation came of age, frustrated with lack of economic prosperity and excluded from political engagement, important strategic changes across the opposition’s mobilization strategies took shape. One such unlikely coalition between the Islamists and the left was advanced by the leftist Revolutionary Socialists (RS) in reconceptualizing Islamism changing their political practices. Instead of submitting to the authoritarian strategy of divide and rule, the RS played an important role in theorizing and organizing across political groups, particularly with the Muslim Brotherhood. Asking how did the RS conceptualize their new ideological stance and when and how did they cooperate with the Islamists while remaining loyal to their ideological position?, this paper will highlight new mobilization strategies across the political opposition in Egypt in forming networks of activists and building coalitions in the decade leading up to the 2011 revolutionary uprising.
Keywords: strategies of collective action, Muslim Brotherhood, Islamism, Revolutionary Socialists, Egypt, 2011 revolutionary uprising
John Krinsky (City College New York)
Tracing the New York Left: The Organization of Influence and Claim-Making During the Long COVID Year
Abstract: In the long year and a half of COVID, New York City, and some other cities with more progressive politics than exist in many other parts of the country, still managed to become both quite contentious and move public debate significantly leftward. This paper examines this contention and these shifts and tries to gauge the extent two which we can discern when and how these shifts occurred, how long they have lasted, and what they betoken for future urban politics. Through the analysis of shared coalitional memberships on one hand and shared Twitter hashtags on the other, this paper asks several questions about the organization, content, and timing of political messages, primarily on the left, during the initial outbreak of COVID, the two months of Black Lives Matter protests around the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor killings, through the presidential election and its aftermath, and through the State budget process until April 2021. Specifically, it asks whether groups were able to enlarge the range of their influence (as measured by the centrality of their claim-making and addition of new co-claimants beyond their already-existing coalitional ties; and it asks whether changes in political claims on the left were lasting or evanescent within the network, and why. To be sure, this kind of analysis—based primarily on co-claiming networks on social media—has real limitations in its application to the “real world,” and yet, both because the data triangulate well with other evidence and because social media data either from or referencing organizations are central to this effort, and reflect organizational effort in claim-making (when much in-person claimmaking has been curtailed for safety reasons), these limitations are less serious than one might otherwise imagine.
Keywords: Coalitions, Hashtags, Networks, Black Lives Matter, COVID, New York
Simin Fadaee (University of Manchester)
Politics of alliance in farmers’ march to the Parliament in India
Abstract: On the 30 November 2018 tens of thousands of Indian farmers marched to the Parliament and demanded a special session to discuss the deepening agrarian crisis. The protest march to the Parliament was only the latest in a series of protest marches which had been organized by an umbrella group of over two hundred farmers’ organizations from all over India. Moreover, for the first time, an alliance of different activist groups, political parties, trade unions and students had cohered to support the farmers and their cause. Despite its political, empirical and theoretical significance, research on the formation of alliances has gained scant attention in sociological research. Based on original research, this paper suggests alliance building should be understood with reference to political opportunities and processes of meaning attribution and framing; and as a strategy, which facilitates worthiness, unity, numbers and commitment (WUNC displays a la Charles Tilly).
Keywords: alliance building, strategy, social change, mobilization, farming, India
Session 10B
Chair: Matteo Tiratelli
Zoom host: Kevin Gillan
Karla Henriquez Ojeda (Catholic University of Louvain)
Spaces of street experience and agosyntonic participation in the 2019 Chilean revolt
Abstract: Activists of the October 2019 revolt performed acts of resistance to open spaces of freedom and expression. When protests and activists' commitment is fluid rather than a permanent occupation, how does the street and the walls address people transit through it? How do they prolong activists claims and battles and embody their beliefs in an alternative future? Results: This contribution analyses the street as a repository of traces of different forms of protests, claims, dreams of alternative future and contribute to the construction of a shared identity among protesters. since the 18th of October 2019. Activist street arts have become symbols of struggle and contents that feed experiences of popular education for individual reflection, give meaning to squares and spaces of egosyntonic participation (meaning for the self) in a context shaped by high state and police control and reduction of freedom by confinement. The experiences of the popular revolt of October 2019 shows that politics was detraditionalized and installed in people's daily lives, emotional experiences, feelings and reflections on social demands are now topics of conversation in daily routines. Conclusion: With the pandemic outbreak, activism moved from public to private spaces. It has opened spaces for individual and collective reflexivity that are at the core of the new culture of activism and its strong cognitive/introspective dimensions that prolong the experience they had in the street. Method: multimethod, observations and interviews between October 2019 and June 2020.
Keywords: Chilean revolt, social movements, spaces of experience, activism, egosyntonic participation
Özge Derman (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris )
The temporary installations of resistance and vulnerability
Abstract: From the Liberty Puppet floating in Manhattan and guerilla projections during the Occupy Wall Street in 2011 to the spontaneous shrines following the Paris attacks in 2015, from the barricaded streets and graffitied walls of Istanbul during Gezi Movement in 2013, to the refugee-tent-occupied Republic Square of Paris in 2020, the mise-en-scène of precarity and spatio-temporal resistance within the neoliberal globalization is performed in the shape of temporary installations and vanishing countermonuments. The installation (Groys, 2009) and the counter-monument (Young, 1992) provide an alternative framework for ephemeral performative occupations of space-time in multiple occurrences. One the one hand, they represent the people's standing up against the precarious conditions and disrupting the hierarchical relationships within the neoliberal organization of the cities. On the other, they provoke a perpetual change, unexpected appearance and disappearance challenging the very idea of planned public space and leading accordingly to the discovery of a lived space-time (Lefebvre, 1971, 1974, Harvey, 1994, 2006.) Finally, the vulnerability appears as a condition for resistance through which the temporary installations of bodies and objects are composed (Butler, Gambetti, Sabsay, 2016.) In that equation, I question whether or not the embodied action precedes the material objects in the creation of lived space-time, and if so, in which ways. In a relational approach (Löw, 2016) to understand and analyze the data, I will employ qualitative methodology based on observant participation, semi-structured interviews and visual analysis.
Keywords: Temporary installation, counter-monument, lived space-time, embodied action
Umer Jan and Sheeba Malik (Univesrity of Westminister and Aligarh Muslim University )
Subverting the performative: Examining ‘non-performative’ as gendered resistance in India-controlled Kashmir
Abstract: The notion of performative public assemblies has, so far, been a matter of intense debate within social and political theory. From Hannah Arendt (1958) to Judith Butler (2015), the idea of a public assembly is largely centred around a visible, performative category that occupies a certain space, and whose units share common concerns and/or goals. A public is essentially described in terms of its performativity, which in turn is bound to the images of mobilization and/or collective occupation of a certain space. By critically examining a certain precedent of non-performative publics, the aim of our paper is to remove the idea of public assembly from its overwhelmingly performative and visible characterization. While staying aware of the distinctive power of its performative modes, we argue that, intense, oftentimes deadly, state or non-state repression, can lead to a creation of what we call non-performative public assemblies and popular resistance. Taking the example of India-controlled region of Kashmir, the paper sets out to explain how the state’s violent crackdown on all forms of dissentious, and even non-dissentious, assembly has led to a situation where people often collectively disappear from the public spaces altogether and stay confined in their homes, in order to express their resentment against Indian rule. This collective disappearance of people from both normal, day-to-day activities while simultaneously unwilling to participate in public assemblies, that always face violent state crackdown, amounts to what the is described as non-performative assembly. In the paper, the non-performative is being placed within the domain of gendered resistance and we argue, through ethnographic fieldwork, that women in Kashmir are one of the primary agents of this mode of popular politics. Furthermore, an attempt has been made to place this notion of non-performative assembly within social theory and engage with the epistemological and ethical complexities that the former presents
Keywords: Performativity, Kashmir, Resistance, Social theory, Militarization, Assembly, Public spaces
Yuliya Moskvina (Charles University, Prague)
Conflictual concepts and multiple meanings of space
Abstract: The paper takes Czech research on the social movements as a starting point. There are two main approaches present in the Czech literature on the autonomous radical movements. The first one works with the “usual suspects”: methodology based on the protest event analysis, resource mobilization theory and political process model (mainly, political opportunity structure). While this approach in prominent in the social movement studies, it has been criticized by autonomous movement scholars as not sufficiently respecting the inner dynamic of the movement, as well as activists’ perception of a social change. Such concepts as prefiguration and politics of act emphasized the change in temporal and spatial conditions of the social change (happening here and now), as well as activists’ reluctance to the politics of demands. On the case of the Czech autonomous movement and by application of the pragmatic sociology of critique, the paper shows that both approaches are not conflictual, but complementary. Protests, political opportunity structure, politics of demands exist on a general level of reality: on the level of public disputes where social actors need to justify themselves with the reference to the common good. Prefiguration and politics of act exist on a more familiar level, where affinity plays a major role. Based on that difference, the paper develops the meaning of urban space which the activists articulate on the both levels of engagement in the reality. On the level of public disputes, they justify the demand for space by the efficient use, different requirements to different types of property (e.g. public and private) and good price. On the level of familiarity the space plays a symbolic (spaces are “speaking heads of the movement”), strategical (movement’s infrastructure leading to movements’ consolidation and growth) and prefigurative meaning (the secure place where the values might be practiced).
Session 10C
Chair: Miguel Martinez
Zoom host: Cedomir Vuckovic
Cécile Van de Velde (University of Montreal)
“What Have You Done to Our World?” The Rise of a Generational Voice throughout the Last Decade
Abstract: At a time when intergenerational justice is emerging as a major social issue in the post-pandemic world, this paper aims to shed light on a new facet of the generational dimension of youth protests from the last decade: it identifies the main generational rhetoric present in the discourses of 7 youth social movements. Theoretically, it is based on the idea that we must bridge the gap between the sociology of youth and that of social movements to better understand the current claims of injustice between generations. It proposes a large-scale comparison of protest writings (n=1914) -slogans, signs, posters- directly collected during: the "Indignant" in Madrid (2011), the student movement in Santiago de Chile (2011), the "Printemps Erable" in Montreal (2012), the "Umbrella movement" in Hong Kong (2014), the "Nuit Debout" movement in Paris (2016), the pro-democratic movement in Hong Kong (2019), and the pro-climate march in Montreal (2019). The textual analysis shows that all the movements analyzed denounce a form of intergenerational injustice, whether it is economic in the student movements in Chile and Quebec, social in the European movements such as Indignant and Nuit Debout, political in the pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, or environmental in the pro-climate movement. Economic threat, social sacrifice, political betrayal or existential condemnation: these movements therefore constitute a "generational moment", marked by a strong politicization of inequalities between generations. By comparing these rhetorics over time, we can understand how this discourse of generational injustice has asserted itself over the decade.
Keywords: Generational voice, intergenerational injustice, youth protests, narratives, emotions, cross-country comparison.
Helena Worthen and Joe Berry (Berkeley)
Contingent Faculty organizing: The movement today and strategies for the future
Abstract: Since the 1970s in the US the percentage of higher education faculty hired as contingents (casualized, precarious, non-tenure line, “gig”) has steadily increased. Today they constitute the majority (70%) of the faculty workforce. We mark changes in this workforce starting in the 1890s-1940s with standardization, followed by post WWII expansion, the 1960s-70’s Movement, and then the current neo-liberal market-driven period. To examine this last period, we point to four problems confronting higher education managers to which casualization became the solution: severe budget cuts, the threat of unionization, the need for a just-in-time workforce for a less-predictable student body, and the perception that the people applying for teaching jobs in the last forty years, increasingly women and people of color, neither needed the traditional perks of a faculty appointment nor could handle the responsibilities of academic freedom. In the face of this strategy of casualization, contingent faculty have organized first into local unions, then as a network, and currently as a movement with independent supporting organizations and emerging broad strategies. Our presentation will depict this history but also identify the kinds of questions that deserve reflection by contingent faculty as they organize. We draw on an extended case study of the California Faculty Association that re-invented itself to mount a credible strike threat in the 23-campus California State University system, leading to the best contract for contingent faculty in the US. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has sent higher education classes on line, caused the closing of many small colleges and universities, laid off thousands of contingents and led to re-writing of tenure rules in multiple institutions, all faculty should be considering themselves contingent. We blue-sky what the role of faculty and higher education itself should be, and call for a strategy to make it happen before disaster capitalism imposes what suits its purposes.
Keywords: contingent, faculty, organizing, higher ed, union
Margot Achard (UCLouvain)
The discovery of "the other"
Abstract: My research focuses on the “post-mobilization” periods. I am particularly interested in those fallowing the two last major mobilizations in Mexico: #YoSoy132 and the one in support of the Ayotzinapa rural school. These two mobilizations gathered many different activists, students and non-students. In this presentation, I’ll focus on the two major encounters that students from the public university of Mexico City experienced during those events. What was the impact of those encounters on their activism? #YoSoy132 united students from the public and the private universities in the Mexican streets. As the students from the public school already had a large history and practice in mobilization, it was not the case for the students from the private school. This encounter broke prejudices, brought new tools to the mobilization and mutual learning. Nevertheless, the cohabitation was far from easy and a lot of conflicts emerged. Two years after, the mobilization in support of Ayotzinapa allowed students from the capital to meet and fight alongside with students from the rural school of Ayotzinapa and to re-activate the links between private and public schools. The encounter with students from a poor state of the republic, with a real strong and different activist past, profoundly marked the Mexico City students’ who went to Ayotzinapa. However, if all these encounters enabled new learning and acknowledgment of the other and large mobilization, when the common goal vanished, so did the -sometimes forced- union. The mobilization and the diversity of the participants allowed the students to know in which group they want to belong, with whom they have more affinity and with whom they share the same vision of social fight.
Keywords: Student mobilizations, Subjectivation process, Intersubjectivity, Mexico.
15.00 – 15.15
Comfort Break
15.15 – 16.45
Simultaneous Session 11
Session 11A
Chair: AK Thompson
Zoom host: Chris Waugh
Chris Waugh (University of Manchester)
“Over the portal of the new world, ‘Be Thyself’ shall be written”: Ideology, connectivity and authenticity of the self in radical left social movements.
Abstract: This article reconceptualises ideology in social movement studies. “Ideology” has become something of a watered-down term in the literature, and is frequently conflated with the similar (but distinct) concept of “frames” (Oliver and Johnston, 2000). Against this conflation (and the more pejorative uses of the term in popular discourse), beyond their revolutionary aims, I contend that radical ideologies are, importantly, quests for authenticity of the self. Radical activists actualise an authentic sense of existence impossible under the existing order. Radical ideologies are both doctrines of regeneration and revolution. This paper examines ideology as means to foster connectivity and authenticity in relation to two case studies; firstly, the 2009 “Idea of Communism” conference in London (where heated debates around the left relationship with ‘identity politics’ took place); and secondly, through an ideology focussed reading of Coleman & Bassi’s research into performances of masculine persona identified in radical left-wing social movements (2011). This paper opens an avenue into conversations in social movement theory on ideology and identity formation, as well as broader interventions into political sociology.
Keywords: Ideology, authenticity, selfhood, connectivity, radical left social movements.
Christian Pépin (York University (Toronto))
Québec solidaire’s road to power: the strategic pitfalls of ‘big mobilizing’
Abstract: Québec solidaire (QS) is part of the revival of radical left parties within Western capitalist societies. Created in 2006, it made an impressive electoral breakthrough in the Quebec 2018 provincial election, by increasing its MPs from 3 to 10. While the party doesn’t have a roadmap to ‘taking’ power, our research, based on 23 semi-directed interviews conducted with party leaders and influential members, has discovered the rationale behind the party’s new ‘party-movement’ model and its relationship to the challenges of state power. Moving beyond parliamentarism and communication-centered left populism, it was designed to: 1) win demands between elections; 2) act as a radicalizing political force that could inspire the rejuvenation of Quebec’s social movements; 3) create a crisis of legitimacy to posit QS as an electoral alternative; 4) guarantee a mobilizational extra-parliamentary wing to support and pressure a QS government in office. While legitimate objectives that break with conventional electoralism, we contend that on its own terms, this party form may not deliver on these promises. This is because this approach fails to tap into and develop the creative capacities of its members for: 1) rebuilding the democratic and militant capacities of social movements; 2) for democratizing the state and the economy. Its main flaw is that it treats party members as members of a particular riding rather than members of a class located within the social relations of life-making and commodity production from which flows differentiated structural power at the point of production, reproduction and non-commodified ‘commons’. By mobilizing party members irrespective of their concrete embeddedness within different social relations which confers them potential forms of disruptive power, this path will remain ill-suited to build the class-rooted power needed to successfully implement a post-capitalist transition in the face of capital’s hostility to such a project.
Keywords: radical left parties, party-movement relationships, class power, state power, socialist strategy
Lewis Bassett
The Political Opportunity Structure of Corbynism
Abstract: This paper takes stock of the concept of political opportunity, highlighting its usefulness in movement analysis that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Following something of a brief literature review and a clarification of the concept as it will be used here, the paper turns to a discussion of “Corbynism”, understood as a political movement with a certain social philosophy, organisational character and strategic outlook, but which existed above all in order to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party and his bids to become Britain’s Prime Minister. Drawing on extensive qualitative research, the paper will work backwards from an observable characteristic of the movement to an explanatory theory for this characteristic based on the notion of political opportunity. Here, I am concerned with explaining a movement’s character, rather than its outcomes, although the two are of course related. Specifically, the paper provides evidence for the persistent informality and fluidly that characterised the ties between movement participants (what we might also call its “disorganisation”) and the uneven levels of democratic commitment within the movement. It then accounts for these phenomena in terms of the “hollowing out” of the Labour Party that occurred in the two decades prior to Corbyn’s leadership of the party and, relatedly, to the much broader processes of individualisation occurring in Britain (and elsewhere) since the mid-1960s. One implication of this analysis concerns the extent to which Corbynism can be seen as meaningfully “Bennite”, that is, in the sense of being focused on grassroots democratic empowerment as championed by Tony Benn, among others. Rather, the paper shows the similarities between Corbynism and the contextually-grounded way in which several political sociologists have characterised “populist” movements elsewhere.
Keywords: Jeremy Corbyn; Labour Party; Political Opportunity; Individualism; Populism
Matteo Tiratelli (UCL)
Political education and training on the British Left
Abstract: The history of political thought is littered with attempts to explain its subject matter without reference to the ideologies of the actors involved: to see political behaviour as nothing more than the chasing of votes (Downs 1957) or donations (Ferguson 1995), or the expression of material interests (Marx and Engels 1846 [1987]). Despite this, activists continue to be heavily invested in ideas, seeing them as objects of struggle, tools to be deployed and motivations for participation (Touraine 1985, Castells 2009, Snow 2013). One way of grappling with this apparent contradiction is to examine the relationship between ideas and practice in an empirical setting. In this spirit, my presentation will outline plans for a research project which addresses two central questions - In what ways are political ideas and techniques taught on the contemporary British Left? And in what ways are they used by activists, campaigners and politicians? - and seeks to answer them through a combination of ethnography, semi-structured and oral history interviews, and content analysis. I will also share preliminary findings from a pilot project involving scholar-activist work developing a 'Political Leadership Academy' for a large, British, socialist organisation.
Session 11B
Chair: Maria Ceci Misoczky
Zoom host: Kevin Gillan
Birgan Gokmenoglu (London School of Economics)
The Uses of Time in Liberal and Authoritarian Political Regimes
Abstract: This paper aims to explore the temporal underpinnings of democracy by examining how two different political regimes use time as an instrument of social and political control, and how their challengers shape and get shaped by the temporal orders of the respective regimes in which they operate. The paper is based on a comparative cross-national case study of the lead-up to and the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom (2016-2020) and the constitutional referendum of 2017 in Turkey (2016-2019), including the "remain" campaign in the UK and the "no" campaign in Turkey which were launched against the proposed changes. By analyzing a liberal democracy and a regime undergoing an authoritarian transition, at a time of political volatility that met with sustained mass mobilization in both contexts, this study reveals the explanatory power of temporality as a fundamental dimension of democratic governance and resistance.
Keywords: Social movements; temporality; Turkey; United Kingdom, authoritarianism; democracy
Chungse Jung (Binghamton Univesrity )
Long-Term Capitalist Dynamics and Protest Waves in the Global South: A Critical Reappraisal of Business Cycles
Abstract: This study explores the relationship between long-term capitalist dynamics and protest waves in the global South over the long twentieth century (1870-2016). World-systems analyses have attempted to demonstrate a relationship between K-waves and revolutionary activities. While there are widely differing views regarding the relationships between K-waves and social movements, the empirical examination of this study between the peak periods of protest waves in the global South generating from protest event records in the New York Times and the upswing phases of K-waves shows no significant correlation. Instead of K-waves, this study singles out the historically specified long-term movement of the rate of profit in the U.S. economy as a prevalent indicator of capitalist dynamics to examine the rise and fall of protest waves in the global South. This study examines that the peak periods of the protest wave in the global South and contractions of the U.S. profit rate show significant correspondence. This study also reveals that the relationship between popular protests in the global South and the long-term trend of profit rate in the U.S. have been strongly influenced by the geo-economical point of reference. Countries and regions in the semiperiphery and Latin America where are more dependent on the core hegemonic states in the global South show a more prevalent relationship between the cycles of popular protest and the contractions of the rate of profit in the U.S. economy. This finding concludes that the movement of the profit rate and capital productivity in core hegemonic regions is highly linked to changing conditions for political processes and to outcomes such as popular protests and antisystemic movements adapting to capitalist dynamics of contraction in and expansion of the capitalist world-economy in the global South.
Keywords: Protest Wave, Kondratieff Wave, Profit Rate, Global South, World-System Analysis
John Haworth (Univesrity of East London)
Liberal and Marxist Social Movement Theories: a Structuralist and Critical Realist Approach
Abstract: In this article, I respond to the work of Barker and of Nilsen & Cox in their volume Marxism and Social Movements on the differences between liberal and Marxist social movement theories, and go on to distinguish between what I’ve called humanist and structuralist Marxist theories. On the differences between liberal and Marxist theories, and while largely agreeing with the authors, I seek to develop a more precise understanding of these differences as their different purposes in explaining and changing the world, by their different views of the roles of social movements under capitalism, by their emphases on ecological, economic and political levels of the social formation, and by their different historical perspectives. On humanist and structuralist Marxist theories, I specifically distance myself from Barker’s infamous statement that structuralist Marxism has “contributed nothing to Marxism as a theory of emancipation” and attempt to explain the contributions of Althusser and of structuralist Marxism to our understandings of the conditions under which people make history. I thus distinguish between humanist and structuralist Marxist theories by their different understandings of the complexities of social formations, by their different views of the importance of human agencies, by their different understandings of organic crises, by their different views of social stabilities and of the frequency of revolutions and by their different views of the roles of ideas and of social interactions in bringing about social transformations. I conclude by explaining the consequences of these differences for debates and for deliberative democracies in social movements.
Keywords: Liberalism & Marxism, Humanism & Structuralism
Marco Perolini (Goldsmiths)
The post-Oplatz cycle in Germany: temporality, continuity and change in the mobilization contesting border regimes in Berlin
Abstract: From 2012 to 2014, refugees occupied several spaces, in particular the public square Oranienplatz (Oplatz) in Berlin and transformed them into sites that provided visibility for their struggles against the German and the European border regimes (Azozomox and IWAS refugee women, 2013; Langa, 2015; Bhimji, 2016, Stierl, 2019). The last inhabitants of the occupied Gerart-Hauptmann school in the neighbourhood of Kreuzberg, left on 10 January 2018 before facing eviction. If the cycle of protest centred around Oranienplatz has been the focus of much scholarly attention, less is known about the mobilization against border regimes that followed that cycle. This paper draws on ethnographic research undertaken in Berlin between January and December 2018 and examines the movement against border regimes in the aftermath of the Oplatz cycle. The paper discusses changes of collective identities at both the movement and the group levels. It analyses the multiple identity formation process that occurred simultaneously at those levels. In particular, it examines if the refugee collective identity, which was crucial in Oplatz, continued to shape the movement against border regimes in 2018. Moreover, the paper investigates the multiple grievances formulated by different social movement organizations. The paper contends that universal freedom of movement continued to be one of the main claims of many of the social movement organizations that mobilized against border regimes in the post-Oplatz cycle. However, new social movement organizations with more ambiguous claims on freedom of movement emerged and alliances with human rights organizations who did not support universal freedom of movement were forged.
Keywords: Berlin, border regimes, collective identity, identity boundaries, temporality
Session 11C
Chair: Selina Gallo-Cruz
Zoom host: Joshua Bunting
Ali Kadivar and Abolfazl Sotoudeh Sherbaf (Boston College )
Digital Coordination and Protest Diffusion: Evidence from Iran 2017-18
Abstract: What drives rapid diffusion of protest across space? Despite extensive theories about the impact of the internet, recent empirical scholarship has struggled to establish a relationship between digital media and street protest. This scholarship has mostly relied on indirect measures of connectivity rather than looking at the content of digital activities. As a result, it is still unclear what types of online activities is conducive to offline protests. In this article, we use the protest related content from digital communications in a wave of antiregime protest in Iran to specify the mechanism of digital coordination, through which online users disseminated information about the time and place of subsequent protests. Using event-history analysis, we find a robust association between digital coordination and the likelihood of protest outbreak across Iranian counties. Our data about Instagram posts as well as qualitative case details indicate that diaspora online activists had a crucial role in providing digital coordination. We highlight the political context of Iran as a hybrid regime to explain how this wave of protest started in the first place, and how diaspora activists gained the prominence to provide coordination at this important political juncture.
Keywords: protest, diffusion, digital media, coordination, hybrid regimes, diaspora
Anika Lanser (Colombia University)
#FeedThePeople to #FreeThePeople: Safety, Surveillance, Property, and Public Space in Social Movement Framing
Abstract: Relationships to safety, surveillance, public space and property have shifted distinctly during the Covid-19 pandemic. This work seeks to understand how these shifts have influenced the framing by mainstream media of social movements organizing during this period. Previous literature on social movement organizations posits framing as a discursive process where the meaning of the movement is collaboratively created and defined to mobilize future actions and members. Drawing on a case study of Abolition Park, which began as Occupy City Hall in New York City advocating for the defunding of the New York Police Department, this paper uses 500 Tweets and 400 Instagram posts from Abolition Park and 50 articles published in mainstream media outlets to understand how Abolition Park is framed by outsiders and how it resists outside framing through the use of social media. Mainstream media’s framing of Abolition Park focuses on clashes at protest actions and policing, while Abolition Park’s framing emphasizes their direct action and mutual aid work that draws on prefigurative politics. Both mainstream media and Abolition Park’s social media draw on similar themes of safety, surveillance, public space, and property to frame Abolition Park, yet misrepresentation of the community by mainstream media is what led Abolition Park to create social media that reframes concepts like safety and public space within abolition ideology. The differences in framing between Abolition Park and the mainstream media indicate the potential of social media as a space for discursive framing within social movements and as a tool for social movements to reclaim the framing of their work. This work examines what kinds of direct action are legitimized by mainstream media as protest, as well as the potential for social movements to use social media to counter mainstream media’s framing of those movements.
Keywords: Social Movement Framing, Public Space, Safety, Mutual Aid, Prefigurative Politics
Bethany Aylward (Sheffield)
Collecting & Covid-times: Researching activist-archives in a pandemic
Abstract: In a time when protest culture is increasingly forced off the streets and into digital environments, there are fears that without sustainable approaches to web archiving, activist-archives will lose valuable pieces of their movements’ narratives. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated innumerable injustices and been accompanied by a surge in popular participation in social activism. With most of the world confined indoors indefinitely, the use of social media, forums, and alternative news channels to spread ideas and coordinate action has seen social movements reach into people’s homes and provide an outlet for sharing outrage. My research draws on essays by Fair, Ziegler, Moran and Teetaert collected in Melissa Morrone’s ‘Informed Agitation: Library and Information Skills in Social Movements and Beyond’ (2014) on the radical archive and library phenomenon, which – in the anglophone world – is clustered in the US. This collection sheds light on the ways that activist groups are harnessing the power of the archive for social change; from reclaiming histories, to strengthening solidarities, to informing future activism. Their experiences inspired me to work with the local activist-archive scene to elevate and safeguard their narratives. I am working with three activist-archives: a feminist archive celebrating the lives of local womxn; and two anarchist libraries that are microcosms of the future they are fighting for. Together we are exploring the web archiving potential of their archives, however we have had to adapt to the reality that the method – ethnography – and the very nature of these archives have been fundamentally impacted by Covid-19. This paper will discuss the response of these activist-archives to the pandemic – in terms of their operation and reimagining their collections – drawing comparisons with the wider activist-archive community.
Keywords: archives, digital activism, feminist, anarchist, pandemic, ethnography
Tobias Gralke (Film University of Babelsberg )
Promoting climate justice and the socio-ecological transformation
Abstract: The paper analyses the strategic use of audiovisual images by climate justice activists on the social web. The focus lies on exemplary (web) videos that are created and distributed for the purpose of mobilisation, affective communitisation, knowledge transfer, and the enlargement of political imaginaries. Drawing from recent research in climate and transformational communication, digital media, social movements, and human rights, the paper aims at (1) describing the affective structure (and affective reception) of exemplary audiovisual media (e.g. videos by NGOs or individual protesters), (2) locating them within global traditions and viscourses concerning the climate crisis, (3) critically analysing their potential to mobilise for climate action and to promote the socio-ecological transformation, (4) pointing towards tendencies and consequences for activist climate communication and networked campaigning under the conditions of hybrid media systems and the social web, of plural, affective societies and mediatised democracy. One of the underlying assumptions is, that especially inhabitants of late-industrialised countries of the Global North are required to develop empathy and practical solidarity with MAPA (»most affected peoples and areas«), but that several social, political, communicative, and epistemic factors put obstacles in the way of moving towards climate justice and the social-ecological transformation. By connecting a reception-aesthetical perspective on climate justice activist videos with linked ethical questions (representation, appropriation, production, etc.), the paper understands itself as an action-oriented contribution to the strategic promotion of climate justice and the social-ecological transformation.
Keywords: climate activism, climate viscourses, audiovisual images, affective structure, affective publics, social web
Session 11D
Chair: Julia Tschersich
Zoom host: Sofia Tipaldou
Lieta Vivaldi and Simon Escoffier (Universidad Alberto Hurtado and Universidad Autonoma de Chile )
Why Conservative Movements Fail: The Case of Chile's Abortion Law
Abstract: For over a decade, a growing group of organizations and activists have tirelessly lobbied against progressive bills in Chile’s parliament. These included far-right civil society organizers and think-tanks, as well as conservative medical doctors, social scientists, and lawyers from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country. They opposed legislation granting rights to women and the LGBTI community. Through interviews, the revision of parliamentary proceedings and legal documents, and a review of the media, this article studies the interactions between conservative civil society organizations and political representatives in the parliamentary processes that passed the abortion law to explain why these anti-rights activists failed at blocking progressive legislation. In order to defend their cause, these organizations developed coherent frames around religious moral values, the key centrality of the family for people’s social development, and the biological basis of human sexuality. In addition, this movement strengthened and created connections with elite allies and implemented collective action tactics outside of parliament to influence these laws’ outcomes. Despite their efforts, however, this legislation secured most of its progressive goals. It gave women the right to terminate their pregnancies in cases of rape, when the mother’s life is at risk, and when the fetus will not survive the pregnancy. The few studies on anti-rights civil society and policy outcomes in Latin America explain the tactics by which movements and conservative institutions succeed in taking advantage of the political process. This research portrays Chile as a particularly conservative case, in which policies tend to favor Catholic, elite ideals. Yet, by addressing an unlikely scenario, in which these movements fail despite acting in a reportedly traditionalist Latin American society, this article contributes to understanding the shifting social and political circumstances in which these activists operate.
Keywords: Conservative, civil society, latin america, abortion, reproductive rights
Matthijs Gardenier and Arthur Groz (University of Manchester and University of Montpellier)
The engagement of far-right activists in French contemporary social movements
Abstract: In the field of political sociology, approaches concerning the extreme right tend to focus on political parties, and in France on the RN (ex-FN) and smaller organizations, which are always envisaged in the form of a political party - FN (Dézé), Identitaires (Bouron), Action Française (Cechutti)… Nevertheless, radical far right activists are involved in forms of action outside of the party form, that can be analyzed as non-institutional political participation, on the capillary model of the network (Sommier, Lebourg, 2017). In France, far-right activists have recently become involved in broader social movements, of which they have been an active component (Winock, 1994). This is the case of the Manif pour tous, a broad coalition against same sex marriage, starting from 2013. It is also the case of the movement of the Bonnets Rouges in 2014, and more recently the “Yellow Vests” movement where the far right has tried to get involved locally in ways that escape traditional partisan analysis. We can also witness the emergence of far-right structures inspired by social movements. Génération Identitaire seems to have abandoned "street" activism to concentrate on spectacular and mediatic actions such as the blocking of the Franco-Italian border or the occupation of the head of the NGO SOS Mediterranean. The metabolization of a repertoire of action stemming from anti-globalization protest is directly assumed by that structure. Similarly, the Groupe Union Defense (GUD) has reconfigured itself as Bastion Social, which intended to occupy houses in order to create social centers supposed to provide charity to poor French citizens and to implement direct solidarity programs to offset the decline in the welfare state. The Bastion Social group has since been dissolved because of its active participation to the Paris “Yellow Vest” protests and riots, in December 2018 . Furthermore, far-right groups have staged protests for years, trying influence publics policies regarding the treatment of the migrants in Calais. Classifying these forms of apartisan participation constitutes a methodological issue around which mobilization actors struggle supporting or opposing these political ideas. The legitimacy of their participation in mobilizations is indeed linked to the categories used to read social reality: are they spontaneous mobilizations made up of an aggregate of actors with diverse interests, or spaces where power relations operate between activists linked to pre-established structures? Our communication intends to understand to the complex relationship that right-wing activists have with social movements in French political space in the recent years. This study will be based on a mixed material combining field investigation and discursive analysis in order to confront the communication strategy of activists with the tactics used in recent social movements in order to understand the place and role of the far right within them.
Keywords: far-right activism, “Yellow Vests”, Social movements, Calais
Merilyn Moos
Resistance to the Nazis from within the German working class.
Abstract: It is rarely recognised that there was a ‘popular’ movement from within the German working class to the Nazis both prior to 1933 and, intermittently, from 1933-1945. I call this ‘resistance’ although it was not (generally) armed. The resistance took diverse forms and was inevitably fragmented. Members - rather than the leadership - of the KPD (German Communist Party) were often dominant, though some members /supporters of other left groupings, from the Social Democrats to the anarchists, were certainly also active; then there was resistance by workers at their place of work, in particular by the remarkable railway union and its members, and there was the much-maligned loose movement of young people, almost all working class: the Edelweiss. Given the highly repressive character of Nazism, ‘resistors’ generally worked separately and hid their activities as far as possible. Many, if not most, were murdered. These last factors partly explain the relative absence of attention to working class people who actively opposed the Nazi regime: there is a relative absence of autobiography or other primary data, though there is now more local attention in Germany. But there are other reasons: the Cold War effected historical as well as political discourse. And, for those who returned to East Germany, many were perceived as not having followed the (fluctuating) party line or sullied by having fled to the West. Today we are witnessing an increasing ideological and political dominance by the right and the ultra-right. It is time for us to note how an anti-Nazi movement struggled against the Nazis, before and after 1933, and, even if they failed to stop the Nazis, demonstrate, against some who argue otherwise, that many Germans were not Nazis and the possibility of struggle against all odds.
Keywords: anti-Nazi, Nazi regime, resistance, popular movement, working class the left
Ryan Switzer & Adrien Beauduin (Stockholm University & Central European University)
The Violated Body in Far Right Social Movement Strategy
Abstract: Subjecting the body to the potential for violence is foundational to many nonviolent collective mobilizations. Scenes of police arresting peaceful protestors or confrontations with disproportionately aggressive counter-movements are powerful tactics in the arena of public support. But the tactic is not exclusive to social movements seeking to expand definitions of citizenship and rights regimes. Far right social movements, advocating an exclusionary, ethnonationalist perspective on citizenship, have also incorporated the practice into their action repertoires. In Denmark, Stram Kurs, a novel movement-party, has built a modest following through Islamophobic provocations; primarily by burning Qurans in neighborhoods known for their large populations of Muslim residents. In several instances, the activists have been attacked during live streams on their social media accounts; generating visceral footage the activists distribute widely. This study, situated in both political sociology and the sociology of the body, takes the video data generated from these live streams (approximately 30 hours of footage) as its primary corpus of data. Through a mixed methods approach pairing tenants of media and discourse analysis — I consider the embodied performativity of nationalist collective action to probe the link between movement knowledge and physical practice. As the material is increasingly implicated in the production of information, in what ways is the violated body involved this production? How do far right activists, in turn, link this information to their pursuit of social change? I argue that these videos serve to confuse and challenge our commonly understood frameworks for violence and non-violence; framing the racialized aggressor as an attacker on the entire body politic. This deviant case study of racist agitation aims to challenge assumptions of the ‘body in social movements’ built on conceptualizations of the ‘embodiment of civic norms.’
Keywords: Far right, bodies, performativity, strategy, social movements
16.45 – 17.00
Comfort Break

Not Set in Stone: Remembering Empire and Contesting Statues

On 7th June 2020, young Bristolians toppled a statue of Edward Colston in the city centre and rolled it into Bristol Harbour. This action marked the culmination of years of contestation, during which Bristolians had sought to displace the material traces of the slave trader in the city's public space. It was also catalysed by popular support for Black Lives Matter, Britain's largest anti-racist movement since abolition.

In Oxford, a student-led movement has sought since 2016 to remove Oriel College's statue of Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes Must Fall Oxford has emphasised that bringing down the statue is only one component of a much larger agenda: they seek to remove colonial iconography, reform the Eurocentric curriculum, and address the underrepresentation and lack of welfare provision for BME staff and students ('Our Aim').

At this roundtable, scholars and activists will discuss why colonial statues matter, what it means to contest them, and how cultural activism links to larger ant-racist, anti-colonial struggles.

Note: This event will be open to the public for free, but registration is required. AFPP delegates are automatically registered, non-delegates can register at Eventbrite. The session will also be broadcast as a livestream on our Youtube channel.


profile picture of Einass Bakhiet
Einass Bakhiet is Co-facilitator of the Rhodes Must Fall movement in Oxford, which aims to decolonise the space, the curriculum, and the institutional memory at the university. She has a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Manchester, where she was President of the Action Palestine student society. She is currently studying the MSc in Environmental Governance at the University of Oxford, researching the intersections between environment, society and political economy.
profile picture of Joanna Burch-Brown
Joanna Burch-Brown is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Bristol. She has contributed to campaigns to change how Bristol memorializes figures like Edward Colston, and to help Bristol acknowledge and understand its historic role in transatlantic slavery. She has a particular interest is in bridging between different viewpoints and promoting understanding of the positive intentions of people on all sides. In her role as co-chair of the We Are Bristol History Commission, Joanna is directing Bridging Histories, a summer-long learning programme and teaching resource for communities facing issues of contested heritage. She is also part of a team who are writing guidelines for public bodies across the UK carrying out reviews of contested statues and street names.
profile picture of Simukai Chigudu
Simukai Chigudu is Associate Professor of African Politics at the Oxford Department of International Development and Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford University. He is the author of The Political Life of an Epidemic: Cholera, Crisis and Citizenship in Zimbabwe (Cambridge University Press, 2020), an examination of the social and political causes and consequences of Zimbabwe’s catastrophic cholera outbreak in 2008/09, the worst in African history. This monograph has just won the Theodore J. Lowi First Book Award from the American Political Science Association. More generally, Simukai is interested in the social politics of inequality in Africa. He has conducted research in Zimbabwe, Uganda, The Gambia, and Tanzania, and has publications in several leading social science and medical journals. As a student, Simukai was one of the founders of Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, of which he writes, ‘Our goal was to slay the racist ideologies that still held sway in various disciplines, to bring more Black people into academia at every level, and to end the glorification of the men who had dedicated their lives to advancing the colonial project.’
profile picture of Alasdair Doggart
Alasdair Doggart is an activist who was involved in the removal of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol. He is the founder of The Bristol Eighteen, realising creative projects to raise funds for grassroots educational organisations teaching anti-racism and history outside of the national curriculum. He has recently featured in the BBC Radio 4 series ‘Descendants’ which explores people’s connections to slavery and how shared history links us together.
profile picture of Gary Younge
Gary Younge is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester. He was previously a columnist and editor-at-large of The Guardian. His most recent work has focussed on youth violence, relating to shootings in the United States, where he was The Guardian correspondent for twelve years, and knife crime in Britain. Throughout his career both his journalism and books have covered social movements in general (and the civil rights movement in particular), inequality, race, immigration, identity and politics. He is currently concentrating his research on the Black presence in post-war Europe. Between 2009 and 2011 he was the Belle Zeller Visiting Professor for Public Policy and Social Administration at Brooklyn College (CUNY). Currently a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, he is also an Alfred Knobler Fellow of Type Media in the US and an editorial board member of the Nation magazine. As a broadcaster, he has made several radio and television documentaries on subjects ranging from gay marriage to Brexit.