AFPP 2022 Programme

Alternative Futures & Popular Protest, 2022
Final Programme

Please see the final version of the programme below; click titles to see abstracts and keywords. All sessions will run via Zoom, with Monday’s plenary roundtable being a hybrid event based on the University of Manchester campus. To access Zoom details for the conference, please register here.

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

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

Monday 13th June

13:30 – 13:45
Conference Opening
Chair: Kevin Gillan; Zoom host: Morgan Powell
A brief welcome from the AFPP Organising Committee. Feel free to bring questions about how the conference will run. The organising committee are Gemma Edwards, Simin Fadaee, Kevin Gillan, Morgan Powell, Ivette Hernandez Santibañez, Meghan Tinsley, Cedomir Vuckovic, and Luke Yates.
13:45 – 15:15
Simultaneous Session 1
Session 1A
Chair: Tomas Pewton
Zoom host: Martin Greenwood
María Florencia Langa
(CEMUS Uppsala University)
Nature as a Moral Concept. How Morality Matters in Environmental Activism
Abstract: Scholars in the sociology of morality have recently begun to problematize nature as a moral concept, interrogating the sources of our assumptions about nature’s inherent capacity for good. In this article, I contribute to this discussion by analyzing the role of moral valuations of nature in the development of commitments that lead to environmental activism. Drawing from a three-year ethnographic study of Swedish urban gardens, I show how cultural assumptions of nature’s goodness are redefined for actors through gardening practice. In this process, gardeners become deeply committed to nature which led many of them to mobilize existing resources to reframe and organize a new gardening movement. I argue that gardening practice generated an emotional attachment to nature that anchored actors’ existing environmental concerns that ultimately translated into activism.
Keywords: morality, environmentalism, practice, activism
Camilo Tamayo Gomez
(The University of Huddersfield)
Understanding the 2021 Colombian protests: places, spaces, and bodies of resistance and solidarity
Abstract: On 28 April 2021, different protests and demonstrations began across Colombia, initially in opposition to a proposed tax reform. Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez argued that the reform was crucial to overcome Colombia’s economic crisis and mitigate post-pandemic unemployment. The reforms involved a rise of taxes on basic products including food and utilities, moving middle-class earners into a higher tax bracket, and making the health care system more privatised. The reform aimed also to eliminate tax exemptions to lower-class individuals, as well as increasing taxes imposed on businesses. After four days of protests, the government withdrew the tax proposal. Nevertheless, demonstrations regarding a range of diverse issues, including economic inequality, police violence, unemployment, and poor public services, continued until July 2021.

One of the main characteristics of these protests was the involvement of diverse urban and rural constituencies in a single national protest, where young people made up the core of the demonstrations. In Colombia’s history of protest, the 2021 mobilisations are the most serious public unrest in recent memory. According to Human Rights Watch (2021) and Amnesty International (2021), 68 deaths occurred during the four months of demonstrations. The principal responsible of have committed these killings against mostly peaceful demonstrators are the members of the Colombian National Police.

In this context, this paper aims to analyse how the 2021 Colombian protests can be understood as an act of social disobedience. It will explore how the intersection between the symbolic reconfiguration of public spaces (streets, squares, public roads) during the protest, and the impact of police violence on demonstrators’ bodies, is showing new dimensions of social disobedience where the body becomes a place of resistance and the public space a site of civic solidarity.

Keywords: Colombia, resistance, solidarity, places, spaces, policy brutality,
Tim Weldon
(Rutgers University)
Being Autonomous’: A squatting collective’s quest to build community
Abstract: “Be autonomous!” This is an expression I often heard as both an ‘interpersonal directive’ and a ‘way of life’ during my time living and researching amidst a squatting collective at the autonomous social center Klinika in Prague, Czechia. But what does it actually mean to be autonomous at any one moment? And how does one ‘act autonomous(ly)’ within a daily life which requires cooperation with others in one’s community?

My ethnographic work centers on these questions as they pertain to Leftist inspired political projects, such as Klinika, and how ‘autonomy’ – as a core ‘governing’ principle – was practiced every day by individuals within the space, and how these practices led to unpredictable and spontaneous practices which created a specifically fluid and autonomous system of social interaction in the community.

This paper, rather than focus on broader more collectivized notions of ‘autonomy ‘from’ or ‘in relation to’ others and what this could mean for individuals – as many other studies have done – starts from the ground up with how individuals enact autonomy, and what social dynamics and collective practices are created within a larger community.

Ultimately, I briefly trace the fluidity within which activists organized and used space; obtained, re/upcycled, used, and ‘propertied’ ‘things’; created these ‘autonomous’ social dynamics; used consensus decision making to fortify their personal autonomy; and conclude be claiming that ‘autonomy’ – as seen within my informants’ understandings, actions, and collective practices within the space were more akin to anarchist, feminist, and eastern philosophical/Daoist understandings of personal and integrated autonomy than to the atomized autonomous selves of ‘Western’ philosophical discourse.

Keywords: Autonomy, Activism, Squatting, Czechia
Hans Pruijt
(Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)
Urban squatting, a SWOT analysis.
Abstract: Organizing squatting is one of the few action repertoire elements that are specific to urban social movements. The paper presents an exploration of urban squatting seen as part of an urban social movement repertoire, and rendered in the format of a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis focuses on effectiveness, and involves identifying factors that are either positive and internal (strengths), negative and internal (weaknesses), positive and external (opportunities) or negative and external (threats). A SWOT-perspective seems conducive to shedding light on (possible) initiatives that bolster a movement, repair or work around weaknesses, and mitigate threats. Illustrating cases are predominantly from the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Italy and the US.
The following strengths are discussed: squatting is multifunctional, always serves a practical purpose, is empowering, less ephemeral than a demonstration or an occupation, offers self-sufficiency (because success is not dependent on the authorities taking notice and responding to demands), has disruptive qualities, and can spawn its own movement, a squatters’ movement, that can support and propel it.
Weaknesses are that squatting potentially involves personal risk and can attract repression. Two models of repression are distinguished: pragmatic tolerance and zero tolerance. Squatters tend to have a very weak legal position but there are loopholes which they can exploit.
Opportunities comprise helping poor people to housing, self-help housing, establishing a space for activities, or preservation of a building, function or neighborhood. The pursuit of any of these four categories can lead to the opening up of additional opportunities.
A key threat is the erosion of squatters rights, which involves criminalization, leading to de-legitimation and a weakened social institutionalization of squatting. A further threat is competition from the anti-squat industry. Finally, squatters can face criticism from the left for getting co-opted, or assimilated by the capitalist economic logic and by state actors.
Keywords: urban social movements, squatting, SWOT-analysis, effectiveness
Session 1B
Chair: Sophie Wathne
Zoom host: Gemma Edwards
Luke Yates & Kevin Gillan
(University of Manchester)
Conceptualising social movement strategy
Abstract: The concept of strategy haunts discussion of collective action. It is used ubiquitously and is central to a range of key theoretical interventions from Gamson, McAdam, Jasper and others, yet it is under-theorised. It represents one half of a range of dichotomies important in political sociology, where strategic action is contrasted with expressive, cultural, or prefigurative politics, often a way of defining the activity that ‘matters’ away from that which apparently does not. This paper is about examining the work that the concept of (social movement) strategy does, what is missing, and how we might address it. We review the role of the concept and its direct and indirect use. We argue that there are a number of directions in which research might move to refine understandings of strategy which are useful in appreciating the balance between innovation and tradition in movement practices, displacing or replacing rational actor approaches, and rethinking leadership, coordination and collective agency.
Keywords: strategic action, theory, coordination, practices
Kenny Chiwarawara
(Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg)
Protest leaders in mobilising and demobilising protests in South Africa: the case of Gugulethu and Khayelitsha, Cape Town
Abstract: In South Africa, protest leaders are often viewed as responsible for protest, disruptions, vandalism and violence. This is sometimes followed with a concomitant attack and arrest of such leaders. Less however is focused on the protest leaders’ role in demobilising protest and deescalating tensions during protests. Drawing on empirical evidence in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha, in Cape Town, South Africa, the paper considers the ways community leaders mobilise people for protests, the relationships community leaders have with the residents, and they demobilise protests. The paper deploys the resource mobilisation theory and the framing processes theory to analyse the resources and the interpretive work leaders engage in before and during protests. The paper finds that leaders wield influence within the community, they are aware of this influence and use it in informal conversations they have with community members. Leaders thus, mobilise, choose appropriate strategies to engage and disengage. While this is not a smooth process (due to the tensions, tempers, and hype in protest events), given their influence, protest leaders play a pivotal role in both mobilising and demobilising protests in low-income areas. The findings demonstrate the benefits of understanding how protest leaders perceive themselves and the problems their communities face and the way protesters (followers of protest leaders) perceive protest leaders. Whereas popular media and government officials sometimes classify protesters as hooligans and criminals this is often not correct. In fact, rank-and-file protesters often assign what I called a badge of honour to well-networked protest leaders. The study adds to understanding of protest mobilisation, activism as well as the critical importance of leaders in both mobilising for protests and quelling protests. Rather than vilifying protesters and their leaders, the government should seek to better understand and engage with them to promote peace, network, and development in communities.
Keywords: Leaders, protests, violence, mobilise, demobilise, South Africa
Andre Luis Sales
Brazilian Prefigurative Ativismo: a collectividual autonomist strategy
Abstract: In Brazil, the term ativismo designates a collective action strategy to interfere in the current social norms; its main traits are a) promotion of individual and collective autonomy; b) adoption of networked organizational structures; c) use of informational and communicational technologies to enable the organizational structure; d) commitment to prefigurative practices. Such characteristics are interpreted using: the Transformative Activist Stance for human development proposed by Anna Stetsenko, and the conceptualization of autonomy as an art of organizing hope, developed by Ana Cecília Dinerstein. The analysis stresses the complementarity of individual and social development; it explains the conditions under which autonomy encourages a kind of action that recognizes the social norms as a process in the making. Building on these foundations, it defines agency both as a condition for and as a product of, the intentional use made by ativistas of their quotidian activities to build the Future they are committed to producing.
Keywords: Agency, , Autonomy, Connective Action, Innovation
Laurence Cox
(National University of Ireland Maynooth)
Learning needs for social transformation: a research strategy for social movement education
Abstract: The crises of climate breakdown and a rising far right, warmaking and gender-based violence, renewed attacks on LGBTQ+ people and deepening inequalities are all intensifying in the twilight of neoliberalism. Yet at present few social movements seem capable of effectively resisting these and bringing about the systematic transformations needed, at least in Europe. Even envisaging this as a strategic possibility, let alone having the skills and capacity to construct movements capable of doing this, is a difficult achievement at present.

The Movement Learning Catalyst project, involving three established movement training networks and engaged academics, aims to tackle at least part of the problem through bringing together experienced activists and popular educators from different social movements across Europe in a year-long blended learning (online and residential) course offered part-time on a solidarity economy basis, “learning from each other’s struggles”.

The course will be geared towards developing strategic thinking and the skills needed to build alliances across organisations within movements, between different movements and communities in struggle, intersectionally within movements, transnationally and translocally. Regional, language-based groups and the possibility for modular participation will help to develop a network among participants, while the curriculum and resources will be made available open-access for movements and popular educators to use.

But what do activists need to know? This paper outlines the research strategy underpinning the course, involving the analysis of pre-existing data sets, interviews with peer organisations, focus groups with experienced activists and adult educators, and a community of inquiry accompanying the process. The hope is to identify activist learning needs that can make a real contribution to developing broader movements and deeper alliances bridging the divides of class, race, gender etc., the different ways movements are organised across countries and the boundaries between movement identities.

Keywords: social movements, adult education, learning and knowledge production, alliance-building, intersectionality, methodology
Session 1C
Chair: Morgan Powell
Zoom host: Simin Fadaee
Máté Szabó
(Univ ELTE Fac Law Inst Political Science)
Relevance of the model of council democracy(Räterepublic) for contemporaray social movements
Abstract: Máté Szabó : A controversial model of Council-democracy(Räterepublik,tanácsköztársaság) and today’s social movements. Transformation from the dictatorship of the proletariat to a self-governing civil society

This paper analyzes the lessons learned from Councilemocratic theories and practice in the 20th century, mainly Rosa Luxembourg, György Lukács, Antonio Gramsci based on Russian, German, Italian and Hungarian based political practices in the twenties of the 20. century . The New Left in West Germany has turned to these models with great interest. Dutschke visited Lukács in Budapest, To get more information about the 1919 Hungarian Rätedemokratic praxis by a former commissioner for defence of the Hungarian Red Army .Both the 68 new left, especially in Germany, later the greens and alternatives, Occupy and antiglobalist movements referred to the Councilemocracy as a from of alternative democratic praxis to the representative and multiparty democracy of the Western countries.
While communist theorists / Rosa Luxembourg, György Lukács, Antonio Gramsci and others have considered this model of the proletarian revolution, the practice in Russia, and elsewhere, as in Hungary 1919 has showed that the dictatorship of authoritarian and totalitarian leaders and party developed in practice and led to the evasion of democracy to eradicate the rule of law and defending the human rights . Compared to this, thinkers such as Murray Bookchin, Antonio Negri, or certain theorists of the German Greens Party, however, considered not the dictatorship of proletariat, but on the basis of civil society organised counsel democracy .
Why was the idea of counseil-democracy especially popular at the New Left and Green movements in n the FRG? The German democracy after Second WW, rejected the fascist model and wanted to be exclusively based the new political system on the representative model, and direct democratic elements were tolerated just in the lower political levels only as on level of federal member states, regions or cities. Post First WW . Weimar democracy was “plebiscitarian”, its direct presidential election, which facilitated Hitler’s power was rejected after the second WW . The federal political level was meant to be exclusively representative. By contrast, the 68-movements and New left movements with their council democratic ideas (Räterepublik) were rejected by the West German political class, institutions and the conventional liberal and conservative parties and even social-democrats from the right of the party SPD were involved parties unilaterally representative arrangement of the FRG , on the basis of their direct democratic practice and theory of “Räterepublik”, “Council Democracy”. The later theorising used the experiences of the short living Italian, Hungarian , German /Münich models practices and of course the longer lasting Soviet experience in involving workers collectives into the political process beyond the traditional party-association and trade union based way. . There were serious theoretical disputes in the student movement on how to introduce, employ the principles of direct/council democracy in twenties. The idea of a Councildemocray /Räterepublik is certainly not a main current among social movements today, but the radical direct democratic, self-governing civil society model is still popular among this circles ,and in some formulation as a continuation of the council-democratic model of the workers movement .

Keywords Democracy, Advice, Marxist and Post-.Marxist Models, Postmodern Civic Participation Forms, Movement and Civil Social Interpretations

Keywords: Keywords Democracy, Advice, Marxist and Post-.Marxist Models, Postmodern Civic Participation Forms, Movement and Civil Social Interpretations
Kate Alexander
(University of Johannesburg)
Building a social movement in the context of a pandemic and disintegrating state: Johannesburg’s Community Organising Working Group
Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic and associated lock-down posed challenges for social movements around the world. In South Africa, most fared poorly. One exception was the Community Organising Working Group (COWG), which developed a new movement in and around Johannesburg, principally in informal settlements. COWG was founded on the basis of 1) building communities alongside saving lives, and 2) a willingness to work with others, including government, so long as they support working-class interests. The importance of innovation – including use of Zoom to maintain democratic organization – was embraced, as was the value of working with a university research unit. While COWG has focused on Covid-related issues – popular education, food delivery and vaccine rollout – it has not been a single-issue campaign, and has been active around police brutality, gender-based violence, relief of distress grants, and, especially, xenophobia. Half the participants in a recent Johannesburg march against xenophobia were mobilized by COWG. Each activity has widened trust within communities and enhanced confidence among activists. The paper goes beyond a description of COWG to begin an exploration of tensions encountered in building a poor people’s movement in the context of a disintegrating state and weakened civil society. How does such a movement relate to big capital, international institutions and academic research?
Keywords: Keywords: Covid-19, community organization, South Africa, disintegrating state, Zoom, xenophobia.
Cosimo Pica
(University of Tours)
The “Union Comunera” and the communal state in the revolutionary process of transition beyond capital in Venezuela
Abstract: Since 2005, the Venezuelan population has organized itself into municipal councils, a form of local self-government based on territorial assemblies and direct democracy. Municipal councils are made up of 150 to 400 families in urban areas and at least 20 families in rural areas. In 2007, the first communes began to be formed from the need for communities to gather at a higher level than municipal councils to undertake larger projects. Communes are made up of several municipal councils and popular organizations in the same territory and can develop larger projects and long-term measures to develop the self-government of their territory.
This model represents the essence of the participatory and radical democracy from below, which is at the basis of the Bolivarian revolutionary process.
Starting from the participant observation on the field, in the occasion of the founding congress of the Union Comunera, from 3 to 5 March last in the socialist comuna El Maizal, my intent is to analyze the impact of this experiment of convergence of communal experiences within the deepening of the Boivarian revolutionary process to overcoming the bourgeois state and building the communal state.
Taking as theoretical reference the works of Istvan Meszaros and Michael Lebowitz, who tried to trace possible concrete models of transition to socialism in the complexity of our present, through the example of the formation of the Union Comunera, I intend to discuss the concrete possibility of overcoming the capitalist system and invent a new social model based on direct democracy and self-government from below.


Azzellini Dario, Communes and workers’ control in Venezuela: building 21st century socialism from below, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2018
Chávez, Hugo, El Poder Popular, Venezuela: Ministerio del Poder Popular para la
Comunicación y la Información, 2008
Lebowitz Micheal A., The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now, Monthly review press, New York, 2015
Meszaros Istvan, Beyond Capital Towards a Theory of Transition, Monthly review press, New York, 1995

Keywords: Self-government; communes; radical democracy; Bolivarian revolution; transition; socialism
Jacqueline del Castillo, Y. Bhatti, & M. Harris
(University of Denver)
How social movement organizers make sense of social movements for health and care
Abstract: In 2016, the National Health Service England (NHSE) launched a programme, Health as a Social Movement, to learn how to support social movements for health and care. The programme raised critical questions about the relationship between a government health service such as the NHSE, sites of local health provision, and social movement organizers. It also illuminated the need for all stakeholders to better understand social movements in an effort to devise appropriate ways to support and work alongside them. Observation revealed a lack of awareness of the socially constructed nature of social movements and confusion about how social movements relate to analogous concepts such as collective action and community development. This paper examines the social movement concept through the eyes of organizers, offering an underrepresented perspective in social movement research. It presents the results of a constructivist grounded theory process on how health and care professionals make sense of social movements, and assign meaning to the term, based on a sample of over 40 groups referring to themselves as “social movements” across England. It then identifies how the ways in which organizers make sense of social movements have practical implications for action and support. A people’s perspective of social movements could augment our conceptual understanding of them as socially constructed phenomena and explore how to involve organizers in understanding the term.
Keywords: social movements, health, sensemaking, organizer
Session 1D
Chair: Camilo Tamayo Gomez
Zoom host: Josh Bunting
Hamid Rezai
(Pitzer College)
Oppressive State and Authoritarian Opposition: Diffusion and Contraction of Social Protest in Iran, 1979-1989
Abstract: Founded in the early 1960s by a group of radical student activists, Sazman-e Mojahedin-e Khalq-e Iran, or the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), played a crucial role in the final days of the revolutionary struggle in February 1979. With the collapse of the Shah-regime, the organization experienced a rapid growth and by 1981 it had formed the most formidable opposition to the ruling Khomeini loyalists. As the interactions between the new revolutionary regime and its opponents turned violent, thousands of Mojahedin activists were arrested, executed, and forced into underground. By the mid-1980s, the Islamic Republic (IR) was able to marginalize its contenders and to consolidate. Now in underground, the Mojahedin looked increasingly inward and blamed the organizational structure and lack of ideological commitments of its members for its shortcomings. Subsequently, in 1985, a group of the core leadership based in Parisian exile announced the so-called “internal ideological revolution” for the total restructuring of the organization. As a result, a dual leadership replaced the traditionally powerful and more democratic central committee. Critical to the increasing authoritarianism in the organization, thousands of members have left the PMOI, significantly reducing its social base inside and outside of the country. Scholars investigating the impact of state repression on opposition activism assume that escalation or deterrence of social resistance depends mainly on the mobilization capacity of the dissident groups or the states’ capability of repression. They rarely pay attention to the chosen tactics and strategy of actors involved in protest movements. Drawing on unpublished briefings, statements, and interviews with former and current members of PMOI this paper illustrates that the chosen strategies and the growing authoritarian restructuring of the organization were key factors in the contraction of protest movements in the 1980s, not the repressive capacity of the at the time weak Iranian state.
Keywords: diffusion, contraction, repression, resistancc, tactics, strategy
Zitian Sun
(McGill University)
The “V” in Nonviolence: Repressions, Justifications, and Responses in the 2019 Hong Kong Protest
Abstract: In this article, I explore the 2019 Hong Kong Protest by asking why does an authoritarian state with an extraordinary capacity for repression and information control feel a need to justify its repressions? I argue that repression justifications complement a radicalization-inducing countermovement strategy by the state. Generally, the state’s violent attack against nonviolent contention risks further mobilization because violent repressions have a backfiring effect. Yet the state can distort the movement, with violent repressions and associated justifications, to avoid providing concessions. I demonstrate how the state applies these two elements strategically with a mixed-method approach. The Chinese mainland government actively tarnishes nonviolent protests by ignoring violent protests, whereas the Hong Kong government responds to violent protests with repressions and justifications by ignoring nonviolent ones. As a result, the central-local government delegation produces a radicalizing environment in which protesters seek decentralized mobilization to cope with the rising cost of collective actions, leading to more violent struggles and protests. But this escalation also constrains traditional social movement organizations, limits the availability of nonviolent protests, and transforms a political movement into a confrontation between protesters and the police. Alternatively, the state can confront radical protesters directly to eliminate the movement instead of seeking negotiations with it.
Keywords: Social Movements, Radicalization, Repressions,
Ji-Eun Ahn
(University of Edinburgh)
“Let’s Hold Candles!”: The Routinisation of the Candlelight Vigils in South Korea
Abstract: This study aims to illustrate how Korean-specific repertoire of contention has dialectically evolved in relation to democracy from the historical perspective, focusing on the continuity of public protests called ‘the Candlelight Vigil’ in South Korea. Candlelight vigils, outdoor assemblies of people lighting candles after sunset in the way of a peace demonstration or a memorial ceremony, have emerged as the predominant repertoire of collective actions in South Korea since 2002. Interestingly, the candlelight vigil, officially called ‘Candlelight Cultural Festival (Chotbulmunhwaje)’, was a strategic product of the structural restriction imposed by the ‘Assembly and Demonstration Act, 1962 (Jipoewa siwie gwanhan beomnyul)’ prohibiting assemblies and demonstrations after sunset. In other words, a night assembly could be allowed only by combining two repertoires: one, a candlelight vigil, a symbol of nonviolence and peace, and second, a cultural festival permitted even after sunset. As Tarrow(1995: 92) convincingly pointed out, the innovations in collective action are ‘diffused, tested, and refined’, and eventually become what he called ‘modular’ within ‘cycles of protest’. In this sense, it is sufficient to say that a candlelight vigil, which had merely been one type of assembly, transformed to the Candlelight Vigil as one set of repertoires manifesting the advent of a new protest wave in South Korea. While numerous studies already pointed out that the majority of the participants in the Candlelight Vigils were mobilised outside the membership of traditional social movement organisations, including trade unions, political parties, student activism groups, NGOs etc. (Kim et al., 2008; Chang D, 2008; Cho and Park, 2008; Lee KY, 2010; Lee JH, 2017; Jung et al., 2018), it has been hardly discussed how those newcomers were mobilised particularly in the Candlelight Vigils and to what extent their participation led to further engagements. Drawing on in-depth interviews of participants in four cases of the Candlelight Vigils, respectively occurred in 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2016/17, this paper explores how a large population of non-participants has turned into regular or stand-by participants of public protests. In doing so, this paper seeks to contextualise how routinisation of the Candlelight Vigils was set in motion through the practice of ‘participating in protests’ at the individual level.
Keywords: public protests, democracy, repertoires, cycles of protest, South Korea
Benjamin Abrams
(University College London)
The New Resistance Movements: Regime Subversion and its Barriers in Democratic Societies
Abstract: Past studies of resistance movements have focused almost exclusively on anti-dictatorial resistance, yet, the rise of populist regimes around the world prompted the emergence of widespread attempts to refuse and subvert democratic governments with authoritarian tendencies.

This paper – a fragment of a longer book in progress- compares the present cohort of anti-populist resistance movements with two prior waves of resistance struggle (anti-communism and anti-fascism) in comparative historical perspective.

After analysing the contextual and processual differences between dictatorial and democratic resistance struggles, the paper outlines the differential logics of regime subversion in democratic contexts, highlighting how despite posing fewer and less severe immediate threats to resistance protagonists, democratic settings create unique challenges for resistance movements that substantially threaten their cohesion and capacity to sustain contentious political action. These constraints – perhaps seemingly counterintuitively- can make resistance movements more impotent in democratic societies than authoritarian settings.

The paper outlines the role three particular factors in undermining resistance movements operating across a trio of democratic settings: the contemporary US, Hungary and Poland. These factors constitute: (1) open opportunity structures, (2) electoral legitimacy and (3) movement capture. Each of these three factors plays a distinctive role in in undermining contemporary resistance efforts.

Keywords: resistance movements, populism, movements and parties, political opportunities, comparative historical sociology
Ishika Seal
(University of Sussex, Institute of Development Studies )
The Mothers of Manipur Protest: A case of unruly politics
Abstract: “Rape us, Eat our flesh”

32 year old Thangjam Manorama Devi was abducted from her house in Imphal, the Eastern District of Manipur on the 11th of July 2004, by the Assam Rifles paramilitary to investigate her alleged connections with PLA, a banned militant outfit in Manipur. Her body was later discovered lying bare in the field with gunshot wounds on her genitals.

Thangjam Manorama Devi was one of the many bodies subjected to corporal violence at the mercy of the state-sponsored actors namely the army, who received legal impunity through the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that was sporadically imposed in the seven North Eastern States in India from 1958.

In a state, where mass protests, flaming tyres had entered the lexicon of everyday life, given the onslaught of state sanctioned violence; the women of Meira Peibi, a social organization working towards the repeal of AFSPA realized the need for a certain shock politics that challenged status quo in unprecedented ways, after all ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’. On the 15 of July, 12 women took to the streets, defiantly disrobed themselves in front of the Kalna Fort, a building symbolic of Manipur’s erstwhile glory and shouted slogans that yet again exposed the dark underbelly of the Indian army where suited officers had reduced women’s bodies to its barest form- mere flesh.

This essay argues that the onslaught of bio power and necro power unleashed by the state on its citizens, strips them of their rights, forces them to a ‘point of rupture’. In this liminal stage, ‘biopolitics as citizen action’ takes an unprecedented form in the local context. This essay argues that the Naked Protest of the mothers of Manipur is a case of ‘unruly politics’ fundamentally altering the lexicon of social movements.

Keywords: AFSPA, protest, unruly politics, North East India
15:15 – 15:30
Comfort Break

Disruption, Disobedience and Creativity

This roundtable brings together scholar activists and arts activism practitioners to discuss the role of arts activism in the current conjuncture, one marked by the convergence of economic, social, political and ecological crises. It coincides with the launch of the Arts Activism Toolkit, that emerged from #ImaginingOtherwise – a recent AHRC funded project on participatory arts education for social change in South Africa.

The toolkit is framed in part around key ‘R’ terms, which are used in this roundtable to pose key questions concerning the intersection of disruption, disobedience and creativity.

  • How can relationships generate critical interpersonal resources needed for activists to be able to work together creatively over time?
  • Which cultural repertoires are effective in creating protest cultures and identities; conveying emotions; transmitting protest actions, ideas and demands; and generating solidarity?
  • How can reframing be deployed to pose, and make attractive, alternative futures?
  • How might different types of arts-activism generate both recognition and resonance in different opponents and audiences in order to challenge dominant ideas, practices and stories?
  • Which protest rituals are effective in challenging of norms and taboos – of both activists and society at large?

The toolkit is available for the conference delegates here.

Note: This event will be hybrid format, based on the University of Manchester campus and on zoom. It is open to the public for free, but registration is required. AFPP delegates should register if attending on campus, non-delegates can also register. Please register via Eventbrite.

Roundtable Speakers

Professor Paul Routledge is Emeritus Professor in Contentious Politics and Social Change, at the School of Geography, University of Leeds. He has been a scholar activist for the past 30 years working with various environmental social movements in both the majority and minority worlds. He is author of Space Invaders: radical geographies of protest (Pluto Press, 2017).
Dr Aylwyn Walsh is Associate Professor of Performance and Social Change at the University of Leeds in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, where she is programme leader of the MA in Applied Theatre & Intervention. She has worked as writer in residence, and artist in criminal justice contexts in South Africa and the UK for close to 20 years, and works on violence, youth participation, protest as well as issues related to crime & social justice, and is author of Prison Cultures: Performance, resistance, desire (Intellect, 2019).
Dr Dani Abulhawa is a British-Palestinian interdisciplinary artist who has been making work since 2005 with a background and training in performance, movement and skateboarding. She’s an ambassador for skateboarding charity, SkatePal and a director of Skate Manchester, which involves coordinating and delivering community-based skateboarding projects within the city. In response to biodiversity breakdown within the climate crisis, In 2019 she co-founded a community interest company called PEBL (Plant Ecology Beyond Land), in collaboration with Materials Scientist Dr Christian Berger. She is based in Manchester, UK and is a lecturer in contemporary applied performance at the University of Leeds. Her performance and communities work often explores the lived experience and politics of specific spaces and places.
Nicola Hollinshead holds a BA Hons at Goldsmiths College, London University in Drama & English and an MA from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Nicola also worked as a professional actor and has been a facilitator in some of the most well-known arts and social change organisations including Geese Theatre, Collective Encounters, Cardboard Citizens, Clean Break. In 2021 she founded Islington People’s Theatre and is pursuing a practice-led PhD at the University of Leeds.

Tuesday 14th June

09:30 – 11:00
Simultaneous Session 3
Session 3A
Chair: Jan Boeddeling
Zoom host: Gemma Edwards
Kyle Matthews
(University of Otago)
Radical Theories of Change and the New Zealand Climate Movement
Abstract: Theories of change are sets of assumptions about how, given the structural constraints and opportunities in society, change does and doesn’t happen. They are inherently epistemological and relate to how individuals and collectives integrate and reject elements of contextual analysis, experience, beliefs, and political theories to pursue change in ways that make sense to them. Theories of change drive the strategies and tactics adopted by social movements, encouraging certain types of actions in the pursuit of change and discouraging others. Despite the significance of theories of change there has been limited theorisation of them by social movement scholars.
I draw on my doctoral research to argue that activists in the New Zealand climate movement have constructed radical theories of change consisting of four elements: concern that moderate theories of change are inadequate for the urgency of the climate crisis; a focus on transforming systems and addressing the challenges of climate justice; disrupting, shifting, and fracturing social hegemonies; and operating strategically relative to other movement actors. Throughout I argue that there is value in considering radical theories of change as operating from specialist niches and providing value to a wider ecosystem of social change.
Keywords: radicalism, theories of change, climate activism, New Zealand, ecosystems, social movements
Eloise Harding
(University of Southampton)
The theory and practice of new environmental movements
Abstract: Recent years have seen an uptick in a particular type of environmental movement: confrontational but (pragmatically) nonviolent, versed in the language of emergency and skilled in eye-catching visuals and, possibly the most distinctive feature, demonstrating a clear allegiance to science and rationality in the search for a way forward.

This paper will analyse the development of a distinctive vein of green theory emerging from movements such as Extinction Rebellion. This analysis will draw from the conceptual method developed by Freeden to identify the intersections of political theory and practice, and will also tap into existing debates in green theory and the theory of protest. I will examine the main concepts which have emerged and taken distinctive shapes and patterns over the course of the movements’ development (for example the focus on science, the language of emergency, and a particular interpretation of direct action) and the moments of tension and conflict through which many of these have been shaped. I will then highlight the contribution the theory and practice of these movements can potentially make to the overall canon of green political theory.

Keywords: ecology, extinction rebellion, environment, nonviolence, civil disobedience, ideology
James Goodman
(University of Technology Sydney)
Social Movements and Climate Change: Climatised ‘Movement Society’?
Abstract: The persistent failure to address climate challenges has driven a rapid ‘climatisation’ of politics. Spurred by the climate justice movement, social movements across a broad spectrum have become directly engaged with climate issues. This paper addresses shifts in the logic of agency as social movements address the climate crisis. Social movements are groupings with a collective identification and capacity for sustained action and participation. Their purpose is to transform the conditions for social change, creating social agency to re-create society. The paper argues that climate change shifts this dynamic of movement agency, and forces new agendas across the carbon cycle – from politicising climate impacts, to contesting causes, to advancing solutions. Across these domains there is a growing re-alignment in the social movement field, to simultaneously address both climate and social agendas. The paper argues this creates new cross-movement dynamics and transformative agendas. It suggests new forms of social agency are in making, posing a new kind of a climatised ‘movement society’.
Keywords: Climate politics, Social movements, Climatisation
Daryl Tayar
(University of Edinburgh)
(Re)connecting with self, community and the natural world: The motivation of climate and ecological emergency arrestees
Abstract: As the climate and ecological emergency deepens and accelerates, we face the collapse of civilisation and the natural world as we have known them, yet government action and public opinion have been subverted by the fossil fuel industry. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a social movement that aims to mobilise mass nonviolent direct action (NVDA) to force governments to transition completely and immediately to a net zero carbon economy. The feasibility of motivating and sustaining such a campaign involving mass arrest and re-arrest is a critical issue, especially since the limited number of previous studies in this area often suggest a deterrent effect for arrest. This paper therefore uses semi-structured interviews with XR arrestees to explore their motivations and individual outcomes of being arrested. Preliminary findings show that the most common values motivating arrest relate to strong feelings of (re)connection on several levels: altruistic i.e. solidarity with those already suffering because of climate change, biospheric, i.e. concern for the survival of the natural world, and to a much lesser extent, concern for family. In addition, for the majority of these white, middle-class arrestees, consciously using their privilege was also a significant motivator. Finally, being arrested with XR seems to fulfil self-determined needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness, thus further motivating and sustaining arrestees’ commitment. These results suggest the ongoing feasibility of mass nonviolent direct action demanding immediate, transformative action on the climate and ecological emergency, although the small sample and probability of increasing repression make this conclusion tentative.
Keywords: climate emergency, nonviolent direct action, arrest, motivation
Peter Gardner, Tiago Carvalho & Maria Valenstain
(University of York)
Spreading rebellion?: The rise of Extinction Rebellion chapters across the world
Abstract: This article offers an analysis of the transnationalisation of social movement
organisations, looking specifically at the rise and diffusion of the Extinction
Rebellion around the world. Using two datasets (one describing where and when
all of the movement’s 1265 local groups emerged globally, the other containing
all major Extinction Rebellion-associated protests worldwide), we contend that,
geographically speaking, Extinction Rebellion’s local groups are largely located
in Western Europe and the Anglosphere. Drawing on della Porta’s theory of
eventful protest, we also contend that peaks in the creation of new local groups
across the world followed major protest events. Overall, our data indicate that
while Extinction Rebellion’s diffusion across the world has been impressive, the
scope and depth of its spread outside the Global North remains limited. We
conclude that the outbreak of COVID-19 and its associated restrictions to large-
scale public protest events has played a key role in hampering the momentum of
its transnationalisation.
Keywords: environmental movements, eventful protest, contentious politics, transnationalisation
Session 3B
Chair: María Florencia Langa
Zoom host: Luke Yates
Shilpa Sharma
(University of Sussex)
Shaheen Bagh protest and the rise of resistance by subaltern Muslim women in India
Abstract: Existing in a state of marginalization by a Hindu majoritarian regime, the Muslim minority of India did not speak out prominently until the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act in 2019 by the ruling BJP government, with the potential to disenfranchise millions of Muslims, which rendered it inevitable for them to take stand against this exclusionary discourse. A key element in this contestation was the physical presence of Muslim women who organized, led and sustained the protest against the act at the protest site of Shaheen Bagh. Muslim women, in mainstream discourse, are considered to be rather submissive and have not been actively visible in the public sphere after the Independence struggle. Against this backdrop, this essay will examine the reasons behind the Muslim women coming together to lead the fight against the CAA. The essay argues that the Shaheen Bagh protest was a case of resistance by subaltern Muslim women who displayed the values of solidarity and inclusion against the confrontational and discriminatory stance of the government. The essay will also question the socio-political impact of this protest considering its placement in the larger discourse of Muslim marginalization in India. The essay concludes by stating how this protest provided a template of resistance for ghettoized Indian Muslim minorities to reassert their identity and protect the constitutional tenets of India.
Keywords: Indian Muslims, marginalization of Muslims, Battle of citizenship, subaltern Muslim women
Akhaya Kumar Nayak
(Indian Institute of Management Indore)
Gender and perceived identity in socio-religious protests: Two contrasting cases from India
Abstract: The position and experiences of women in various religions, and new age religious movements spearheaded by women are extensively studied phenomena (Woodhead, 2002; Klingorova & Havlíček, 2015; Jacobs, 1991; Puttick, 2012;). Most of these studies agree that the power relations within most religious communities seem to be skewed in favor of the masculine gender. As a result, there emerge several protests movements (at times by women) aiming at ensuring rights to women or abolishing/changing social religious structure that are perceived as oppressive. There are also protests when people perceive that their gender identity is challenged by existing or changing practices.
This paper attempts to analyze two such instances of protests from India in the light of the feminist standpoint theory. The first case discusses a series of protests related to the entry of women of certain age inside the Sabarimala shrine, a Hindu temple located in southern Indian state of Kerala. Traditionally the women of menstruating age (in this case aged 10-50) are not allowed to enter the shrine which a group of feminist activist perceive as violation of the fundamental rights of women and assignment of a stigmatized identity based on purity and pollution to the women of certain age. The second case discusses the protests related to the ban of Hijab in schools of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. The Muslim women perceived it as an encroachment of freedom to practice their religion and an attack on their very gender identity. The paper finds that the standpoint of the protest participants in these two movements are shaped differently. Apart from the knowledge and imagination (Smith, 1997; Stoetzler & Yuval-Davis, 2002), the forces beyond the control of the protest participants such as political and ideological also play a major role in shaping their identity and standpoint.
Keywords: Gender, Identity, religion, protests, standpoint theory
Kyoko Tominaga
(Ritsumeikan University)
Who Meets the Perfect Standard of a ‘Real’ Feminist?: Writings by Feminist Activists in Japan
Abstract: This study investigates how female activists create their activist identity in their feminist movements. Previous studies have revealed the process of activist identity formation by examining the core of social movement communities; it is highly related to the division of labour and misogynist structures in political activism. However, scholars have not investigated the activist identity of feminist movements. This research used document data such as zines, online writings, and magazine articles written by feminists. This paper analysed the collected data using the findings from previous research on the concepts of a ‘perfect standard’ and the ‘right’ type of activism.
Some activists took part in feminist movements in their everyday routines because they had dropped out of other protests due to male-centric structures that put female participants in a marginal position, but feminists also create their activist identity. They felt frustration and guilt when they could not meet the perfect standard and engage in the right type of activism. They regard a ‘real’ feminist as an activist who is mentally independent, intelligent, and able to speak her mind in public, and they blame themselves for falling short of this ideal. Moreover, they sometimes get the benefits of being a woman, but they have feelings of ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’ as being feminists at the same time. The feminist movement stands on the value of ‘the personal is political’; therefore, they regard not only direct action and frontstage repertoires but the everyday reproduction as social movements. Thus, activists who are unable to thoroughly practice feminist values in their daily lives are exposed to the fear of not being able to meet the ‘perfect standard’ and engage in the ‘real’ type of activism.
Keywords: Feminist movement, activist identity, reproduction, writings
Kai Heidemann & Julia van Zijl
(Maastricht University)
Pathways of Feminist Empowerment: Community education and free spaces in the Netherlands
Abstract: How can social movements operate within educational systems and settings? Merging the study of community and adult education with strands of social movement theory, this article compares the forms of ‘feminist work’ deployed by three different women’s associations based in the Limburg region of the southern Netherlands. Drawing on qualitative case study data, the discussion explores how three locally based but state-funded sites of community education have the potential to act as ‘free spaces’ for broader-level feminist social movements. The analysis focuses on the repertoires of educational action deployed from within three sites in order to examine their proposed ‘pathways of empowerment’ for women participants. The findings show interesting parallels and distinctions across cases. While all sites mobilize educational actions so as to promote critical awareness, social capital and solidarity among participants, they do so in ways that vary depending on the ideological orientation of the organization and the socio-cultural demographics of constituencies. Despite relatively weak connections between the associations, it is ultimately argued that together they form a significant field of feminist action within a decisively conservative region of the Netherlands.
Keywords: free space, education, feminism, Netherlands,
Grzegorz Piotrowski & Magdalena Muszel
(University of Gdańsk)
Polish women’s activism in Great Britain.
Abstract: The wave of women’s protests and women’s strike in 2016 in Poland marked a turning point for Polish feminists. The protests were a novelty due to their geographic distribution that for the first time included small towns (Muszel and Piotrowski 2018), the non-labor related use of strike (Kubisa and Rajkowska 2018), and new understanding of citizenship (Kowalska and Nawojski 2019). There was also a generational shift observed, with the streets populated by much younger cohorts of people, corresponding to global shifts within women’s movement (Chironi 2019). The large presence of you people at women’s protests coincides with another social phenomenon in Poland affecting mostly young people – massive migration, mostly to the UK and Ireland.
The focus of this paper is on protests and campaigns organized to support the struggles of Polish women that take place in the UK. In particular we want to take a closer look at the similarities and differences in cooperation within Polish feminists active in the UK, their interactions with local organizations of similar nature, the influence of local environment (also political), and the presence of counter-movements and their relations to the Polish community.
The article is based on qualitative fieldwork conducted among Polish migrants in the UK in summer and autumn of 2021 (as part of the research project “Political activism of Poles in the UK”, sponsored by the Polish National Science Centre, grant no. 2020/37/B/HS6/01748), as well as long-lasting fieldwork and participation in Polish feminist movement.
Keywords: Feminism, Poland, social movement, mobilization, Great Britain
11:00 – 11:15
Comfort Break
11:15 – 12:45
Simultaneous Session 4
Session 4A
Chair: Kevin Gillan
Zoom host: Meghan Tinsley
Martin John Greenwood
(University of Manchester)
Erotic, Auratic and very democratic: A utopian reimagining of public services via Herbert Marcuse and Walter Benjamin
Abstract: This paper assesses the current condition of the UK’s public services after decades of neoliberal depredation and imagines their unlikely yet necessary transformation into vessels of utopian hope and action. The paper notes the persistence of values heretical to a neoliberalised social imaginary operative within these services, and that these persisting values exist under significant duress. Herbert Marcuse’s account of the relationships between idealism, materialism, Techne and Logos in ‘Western’ thought is posited as useful means of understanding the intensified persecution of these heretical values in the neoliberal decades. The paper then considers ways in which this persecution might be brought to an end and how these values might be cultivated and allowed to flourish. Firstly, Marcuse’s understanding of the Erotic – the suppressed drive to create and sustain the conditions for the flourishing of the social organism – is used to sketch out the basis of a utopian system of public services. Secondly, two identifiable senses of Walter Benjamin’s concept of Aura are noted – the first implying mystification and inaccessibility and the second implying experiential richness and known-ness – and used to emphasise the necessity of democratic, grassroots involvement in such services, in order to maintain their utopian trajectory.
Keywords: Utopia, Public Services, Neoliberalism, Marcuse, Benjamin
Albeniz Tugce Ezme Gurlek
(Kirsehir Ahi Evran University)
Possibility of Reading Old Neighborhood Habits Growing in Mass Housing as a Resistance Against Apartment Life
Abstract: In the urbanization of Turkey after 2000, urban renewal emerges as the most important tool that shapes the reorganization of neighbourhoods in all size cities. In this process, the residents of the old neighbourhoods, on the one hand, are placed in apartments from detached houses with gardens. On the other hand, they try to continue their old habits, solidarity relations and daily life practices in the spatially changing house-street-neighbourhood triangle. While some of these habits continue as usual and on their own, the others look for cracks in the production of new space and, as Lefebvre describes it, seep through these cracks and breathe into life. It is possible to see the old habits that leak from these cracks as a form of protest against urban renewal or explain it as a transitional phase of the adaptation process to the new life.

This study is built on this determination; It deals with the old habits of the old neighbourhood residents living in the Kırşehir Bağbaşı Urban Renewal Project area, which they carried to the mass housing as a resistance to the “apartment culture”. Within the scope of this study, qualitative data collected by participant observation, open-ended, in-depth interviewing and focus group meeting methods were analyzed. Based on the findings, generalizable determinations were made on the social effects of urban renewal processes experienced in the cities of Turkey after 2000. After these determinations, criticisms of the implemented urban renewal projects were developed, and solution suggestions were presented.

Keywords: Urban renewal, housing policy, production of space, Bagbasi neighbourhood, Turkish urbanization
Alexandrina Vanke
(Institute of Sociology of the Federal Centre of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences )
The creative forms of resistance: overcoming life difficulties in industrial neighbourhoods
Abstract: The paper considers the creative forms of everyday resistance to neoliberal challenges of ordinary people, including workers and professionals, residing in two deindustrialising neighbourhoods located in the Russian cities of Moscow and Yekaterinburg. By everyday resistance of workers and other subordinate groups to neoliberal challenges, I mean their micro-practices which help them gain ‘power from below’ (Piven, 2008) and ‘quiet power’ (Pottinger, 2017: 217), create contemporary loci of counter-power, change realities at the micro-level of the everyday and improve life from the bottom-up. I adopt a broad definition of resistance, including tacit disobedience and mundane modifications of landscapes, everyday activism (Chatterton and Pickerill, 2010) and ‘active citizenship’ (Goldstein, 2016, 2017), implicit and unconscious forms of subversion, collective practices of cooperation and sharing (Walkerdine, 2016), and creative ways of doing things, which empower ordinary people and allow both practical consciousness and social change to happen in human relationships (Williams, 1977: 212; Thompson, 1979 [1963]: 9–10). I will argue that resistance should include ordinary people’s practices of overcoming the difficulties they face in everyday life. The paper is based on multi-sited ethnography and draws on rich multi-sensory data, including 53 ethnographic interviews, more than 150 pages of field notes, more than 550 photographs and videos, and drawings made by research participants.
Keywords: everyday resistance, creativity, practical consciousness, industrial neigbourhood
Núria Suero Comellas
(Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
Social choirs and collective action
Abstract: Music is a basic element in social movements. The paper addresses the analysis of social choirs through four aspects: collective identity, emotions, alternative living, collective action and solidarity. Literature on social movements has analysed the importance of music in collective action. This paper focuses on how social choirs contribute to experiment in alternative living through the four aspects mentioned above.

The paper seeks to contribute to this issue by analysing one specific social choir: Incordis. This choir is located in a social centre (Ateneu la Sèquia) where different social movements participate. Ateneu la Sèquia was created during the wave of mobilizations that took place in Spain in 2011. The protests contributed to spread the creation of new social choirs all over Catalonia. The network of social choirs has resisted throughout the years and it has further developed with the creation of new social choirs in different autonomous spaces.

Social choirs, it is argued, are key elements in maintaining collective action and solidarity networks through emotions and the creation of a collective identity. It also contributes to spread protests and to exchange experiences and social innovations in alternative living.

Keywords: Music, social choirs, social centres, collective action
Session 4B
Chair: tbc
Zoom host: Ivette Hernandez Santibañez
David Bailey
(University of Birmingham)
Comparative approaches to assessing movement effects: lessons from worker-led dissent in the British age of austerity
Abstract: It is generally accepted that assessing and explaining the effect of social movements is difficult to do. Sometimes movements are successful, and sometimes they aren’t, with no obvious explanation as to why. More often, there is a diffuse effect associated with social movements that it is difficult to quantify or measure and therefore difficult to compare. This paper approaches this methodological difficulty through the use of qualitative comparative analysis, presenting brief qualitative case comparisons for over 150 prominent episodes of worker-led resistance in the period 2010-19 in the UK. The paper suggests qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) as a means by which to identify historically-specific ‘routes’ through which the effect of movements can be systematically compared, in a way that avoids the widely noted reductive and ahistorical pitfalls of using quantitative methods, but nevertheless enables us to identify concrete causal claims supported by systematic comparison.
Keywords: labour movements, methodology, resistance, austerity, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA)
Simin Fadaee
(University of Manchester )
Marxism, Islam and the Iranian Revolution
Abstract: This paper will examine the dialectic of Marxian and Islamic socio-political thoughts and its implications for shaping a revolutionary movement which led to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, one of the most significant and yet surprising revolutions of the 20th century. I argue that this dialectic should be understood with reference to existence of a long-lasting anti-imperialist movement in Iran which gained momentum in the second half of the 20th century with the victory of the Chinese and the Cuban Revolutions as well as the triumph of independence movements and emergence of Third-Worldism. Hence, revolutionary theories of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Guevara and Fanon were synthesized with revolutionary currents of Islam – particularly Shiism – leading to emergence of a vibrant landscape of intellectuals and political parties which incorporated these currents in a variety of ways. The paper aims at expanding our understanding of Marxist theory in the global South and its value for future emancipatory politics.
Keywords: Marxism, Global South, Revolution, Travelling Theory
Jack McGinn
(London School of Economics, Dept of Sociology)
Myth as Mobiliser in the Early Syrian Revolution
Abstract: The Syrian Revolution was an unusual uprising, even within the region, given its spread from the rural periphery to the urban centre, which is the reverse of the norm, its horizontal or ‘leaderless’ characteristics, with few party structures or traditional models of leadership emerging, and the way the revolt spread and remained coordinated in a local or ‘nodal’ fashion, with many simultaneous episodes of revolt remaining small-scale, distinct, yet connected. This paper explores the role of myth and local tradition in propelling and fashioning the uprising, particularly in the rural areas from whence in came. Early sites of revolutionary activity like Dera’a and Rif Dimashq had embedded memories of revolt dating back as far as the anti-colonial uprising of 1925–27, led by the Druze Sultan Pasha al-Atrash. Based upon qualitative interviews with participants, now based in Jordan, this piece looks at the mobilising power of myths and the resulting character of the rural revolution in 2011.
Keywords: Syria, mobilisation, revolution, Arab Spring, rural, horizontal
Jann Boeddeling
(London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE))
From “Spontaneity” to Self-Activity: Reviewing the Study of Revolution through the case of Tunisia in 2010/11
Abstract: Mainstream social science has tended to study revolutions from the perspectives of macro-level grievances to account for causes, of social movement studies-inspired analyses to understand mobilization, and regime-stability variables to explain outcomes (e.g. Goldstone, 1991; Goldstone et al., 2010; Goodwin, 2001; McAdam et al., 2001; Skocpol, 1979, 1994). The wave of uprisings and revolutions that have swept the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since 2010/11 did not produce thorough revisions of these approaches (Allinson, 2015, 2019; Kurzman, 2012; Lawson, 2015, 2016; Stepan and Linz, 2013). However, accounts foregrounding the importance of events and interactions are notable exceptions (e.g. Jasper and Volpi, 2017; della Porta, 2014, 2016; Volpi, 2016). An emergent critical perspective is instead pointing to the empirical importance of subaltern politics in popular and revolutionary mobilization throughout the MENA, reviving a Gramscian analysis (e.g. Bayat, 2017; Chalcraft, 2020, 2021; De Smet, 2016). The paper joins these latter interventions. It makes three conceptual propositions that relate to the above perspectives in the study of revolutions. Rather than through macro-level causes, the paper presents an account in which dissent gets interwoven with subaltern social groups’ local culture, history, and experience, coming together in what Gramsci termed “good sense”. To explain mobilization, it argues for a perspective that, instead of organization-centric and means-ends rationalistic accounts of social movements, seeks to understand the complex dynamics of subaltern self-activity as based on shared experience and local rationalities. This challenges the tendency of social movement studies to conceive as “spontaneity” (subaltern) collective activity that is ‘not planned…or organized in advance’ (Snow and Moss, 2014, p. 2). Finally, the paper proposes the Gramscian concept of hegemony as an alternative lens for studying the outcomes of revolutionary processes. The usefulness of these conceptual lenses is demonstrated through materials from fieldwork in Tunisia between 2016 and 2018.
Keywords: spontaneity, self-activity, subaltern politics, Middle East and North Africa, Gramsci
Session 4C
Chair: Kai Heidemann
Zoom host: Morgan Powell
Laya Hooshyari
How psychology and especially critical approaches to psychology make connection to social movements?
Abstract: The relation between psychology and social movements can bring two questions to mind. First, which psychology is being talked about? Although it may be impossible and inaccurate to speak of accurate and general definition of psychology as a discipline, I divide psychological approaches in two categories: mainstream psychology and non-mainstream psychology. “Mainstream psychology refers to an approach to the science of mind accepted by a majority of psychologists and defined by ontological and epistemological qualities questioned by representatives of non-mainstream psychology” (Toomela 2014) which “serves the interest of the power elite by disregarding the ability of humans to change their life circumstances”(Holzkamp, 1972), “And have the same reactionary assumption at work: fix the individual and you will solve social ills” (Parker, 2007, 205). By non-mainstream psychology approaches I am referring to more orthodox Marxist Soviet psychological ‘Cultural Historical School’ of Vygotsky, Luria, Leontiev (van der VEER, 1983) and critical psychologists after them (Holzkamp, 1972, Parker, 2015, Teo, 2005 and etc.) which are trying to overcome the “worldlessness” of mainstream psychology.

Second, a question with ambiguity and ridicule may be posed by other approaches in humanities: Can any psychology inherently lead ordinary people into social movements? I am trying to answer this question in Three steps. First, I am trying to explain why in all conditions mainstream psychology will fail in even understanding the relation of ordinary people to social movements. Second, I will elaborate how critical psychologies contribute to progressive social movements, but fail to contribute to social revolution. Third, I will point out how these critical approaches can become efficient in leading ordinary people, not only to social movements, but also to social revolutions.

Keywords: Social movements, Mainstream psychology, non-mainstream psychology, critical approaches
Birgan Gokmenoglu
(London School of Economics)
From the “Spirit of Gezi” to the “Ills of Gezi”: Activist Self-Reflexivity and the Question of Organization in Grassroots Politics in Istanbul
Abstract: There is a sizable literature on the Gezi Park protests of 2013 that offer different perspectives for understanding the characteristics, internal dynamics, influences, and outcomes of the uprising. Most of these studies analyse the uprising in the moment of action while some engage with its aftermath to examine its effects and legacies. Taking activism as a site of knowledge production and political learning, this article foregrounds the narratives and experiences of grassroots activists as the foundation for analysis. Drawing on political activist ethnography, it offers a look back at Gezi from the perspective of its participants who have continued to be politically engaged in a variety of grassroots initiatives, who have critically and self-reflexively re-evaluated the practices and principles of Gezi to inform their organisational activities in the present. Activists’ self-reflection has affected the way they structured grassroots organisations in ensuing cycles of mobilisation. Based on two years of participant-observation in local assemblies established as a grassroots initiative to mobilise voters against the institutionalization of authoritarianism in the 2017 constitutional referendum in Turkey, this article presents and examines activist self-reflexivity at the organisational level, and the continuities and changes in grassroots organising this critical self-reflexivity entailed in Istanbul. It argues that the intellectual labour of a core group of activists shifted the focus of grassroots organising from the much-lauded “spirit of Gezi” to the “ills of Gezi”, leading to new combinations of horizontal and vertical structures of action. As such, the article contributes to discussions on activist self-reflexivity, movements’ intellectual labour, changes in grassroots organising, and political activist ethnography.
Keywords: Political activist ethnography, self-reflexivity, political learning, activist knowledge production, intellectual labour, local assemblies
Karla Henríquez
(Université Catholique de Louvain)
#ChileDespertó. Becoming actors of change
How do actors live tensions between processes of subjectivation resulting from the transformation of their being and the political vision of the social movement? To answer this question, we presented the intimacy of the activists when their peers questioned them for participating in the protests. Special attention is in the experiences that generate discomfort or astonishment, such as the experience of contradictory emotions, the estrangement from groups of friends, the breakup of relationships, or experiencing police repression. From these experiences, we show the close connections between “macro” transformations (of citizenship and society) and “micro” transformations (subjectivity, construction of self, and worldviews of individuals). Finally, it addresses how this transformation process collides previous socialization with the subjectivation, production of the self as an autonomous person, and transforms how they think of themselves, politics, and Chilean society.
Keywords: Subtectivation, socialization, actor, Chile, protests
Sophia Wathne
(Scuola Normale Superiore)
Social Movements Prefiguring Political Theory
Abstract: Adding to the growing literature on social movements as knowledge and theory creators, this chapter wants more social movement research to focus on the content of the political theories created by social movements. This chapter argues that prefigurative social movements create political theory through the interplay of their internal and external communication, their organization and in their discussions of how and why to change the world: They are prefiguring political theory through their cognitive praxis. The chapter demonstrates how the literature on prefigurative social movements and Ron Jamison and Andrew Eyerman’s concept of cognitive praxis, combined with a decolonial feminist approach to knowledge and theory, provides space for the political theory of social movements within social movement literature. This theory is inherently political as it is aimed to be a (temporary and evolving) guide towards the kind of world the movements want to see, and argues why it should look like that.
To recognize social movements as political actors we need to engage with the concepts, policy proposals, critiques, or new institutions that they are creating, and not only the mechanics around creating them. Consequently, we need to recognize social movements as the authors of the knowledge and theory they create, and not take credit for “discovering” it. The chapter briefly outlines how a Cartesian approach to science prevents us from viewing theory based on lived experience as theory (even though all theory is based on lived experience). Lastly, from a decolonial approach, we should recognize moving away from the more Cartesian view of science, requires a decolonization of the entire research process, and in particular rethinking what this means in terms of who benefits from the knowledge, authorship, ownership and credit.
Keywords: Social Movements, Decolonial Feminism, Prefiguration, Cognitive Praxis, Political Theory
12:45 – 13:45
Lunch Break
13:45 – 15:15
Simultaneous Session 5
Session 5A
Chair: David Bailey
Zoom host: Martin Greenwood
Carys Hughes
(University of East London)
Governing to raise consciousness. What does ‘left governmentality’ look like?
Abstract: Confronted with the failures of the Syriza Party in government in Greece, theorists have called for a theory of ‘left governmentality’ (Gourgouris, 2018; Karitzis, 2017). Syriza’s crucial mistake, argues Andreas Karitzis, was to think that their challenges were ‘political and not *technical*’. In fact, ‘one’s political potential in […] government is determined by what one knows one can do with the state…We miss a modality of administrating populations and running basic social functions in a democratic, participatory and cooperative way… based on the liberation of people’s capacities’ (Karitzis, 2017: 165)

Foucault’s concept of governmentality has, in most of the scholarly literature, been used as a tool to understand neoliberalism. Whilst states have the power to compel citizens, governmentality describes a subtler power, involving the construction of willing consent. Through ‘techniques of governance’, the state encourages subjectivities which support its desired ends. Neoliberal governmentality works to sustain the existing order, primarily, through disaggregating citizen agency. By constructing citizens as individual, atomised agents, always in competition with one another, potential citizen power is mitigated, and the population made ‘governable’ (Foucault, 1982).

But what if governments have a different aim? What if they want to invert neoliberal subjectivities and foster diverse forms of collective agency and collaboration? This paper contributes to an exploration of these questions and what governmentality in support of a radically progressive political project might look like.


Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and power. Critical inquiry, 8(4), 777-795.

Gourgouris, S. (2018) Preliminary Thoughts on Left Governmentality. Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, 1(1): 99-107.

Karitzis, A. (2017). Learning from Syriza. In: Shifting baselines of Europe: New perspectives beyond neoliberalism and nationalism. European Alternatives.

Keywords: governmentality, left governmentality, consciousness raising, governance, collective agency
Peter Ramand
(University of Wisconsin Madison)
From Class Analysis to Real Utopias and Back Again: Erik Olin Wright in Conversation with Left Populism
Abstract: The problem of collective agency – who has the power to systematically transform society – has been vexing for contemporary Marxism. In his final book, Erik Olin Wright engaged the question of collective actor formation for the first time as part of his “Real Utopias” project.

There is, surprisingly, substantial overlap between Wright’s framework and the theory of left populism elaborated by Ernesto Laclau and Chantelle Mouffe. Despite their divergent ontological approaches, they converge on a set of arguments about how to build robust collective actors capable of transforming society.

This paper brings Wright into conversation with theorists of populism, and will suggest Wright’s approach faces similar obstacles to those faced by the “post-Marxists.” Namely, aspects of the approach and the level of abstraction limit the usefulness of the framework for individuals engaged in attempts to transform capitalism. Values, identities, and discourses are important, but often the most pressing concerns are which values and identities to mobilize, how to do that, and who to target.

Unlike the left populists, however, I will argue that Wright offers a way out of the impasse. Analyzing data from the British Election Study on the Scottish independence and Brexit referendums, this chapter illustrates how Wright’s class analytic framework can supplement and resolve potential issues that emerge, as well as weaknesses in work on left populism. Foregrounding Wright’s class analysis allows us to identify class strata open to radical change, as well as the values and attitudes that could mobilize them. Additionally, Wright’s approach could allow a strategy for testing the articulation strategies developed by social movements and other collective actors.

Keywords: theory, brexit, marxism, class, quantitative, scotland
Mike O’Donnell
(Independent Researcher (Wmin U. (re)))
Looking Back to the Futures of Populism
Abstract: This article aims to distinguish three major forms of populism, without excluding the possibility of others, providing a basis for grounded speculation on possible future directions of populism. General agreement that populism is defined by a conflict between ‘the people’ and ‘the elite’ provides a frame and starting point for analysis. The three types of populism described are, firstly, grassroots populism — alternatively described as anarcho-populism, a particularly appropriate term when populism occurs in the form of mass protest; secondly, progressive populism in the context of reformist party politics either in or out of government; and thirdly, authoritarian populism, partly driven by a tendency within populism referred to here as its ‘authoritarian dynamic’. Political authoritarianism is often concomitant with national populism although some left-wing populist movements have authoritarian characteristics.
The above approach does not replace the familiar division of populism into ‘left’ and ‘right’ although it highlights different aspects, some particularly salient in the post second world war era. In fact, populist politics often strain to break from established left and right divisions of socialist and liberal capitalist politics. Thus, anarcho-populists and progressive populists tend to favour decentralised and localised policies rather than statist ones, the latter typically blending the two. Similarly, authoritarian populists far from being enamoured of global capitalism often see it as unfair and disruptive, particularly adoption of relatively free movement of labour and seek ‘order’ in the form of ‘the big man’. The causes underlying this partial reshaping of the ideological landscape, some pertaining to the deficiencies of liberal democracy, largely persist and are discussed below. If liberal democracy is to win its global struggle with authoritarianism, it must address its own weaknesses, particularly in relation to social justice and the inequality of power and wealth.

Keywords: populism; power; immigration; race; participatory democracy, liberalism
Uri Gordon
Leviathan’s Body: Recovering Fredy Perlman’s anarchist social theory
Abstract: Fredy Perlman’s posthumous legacy contrasts sharply with his scholarly neglect. His essays, pamphlets and parodies from 1968-1972 show his anarchist maximalism taking shape well prior to his critiques of technology and domestication. Decisively adopting a politics of direct action, Perlman was also implicitly working towards an original and distinctly anarchist social theory of domination. This article aims to recover Perlman’s account from its diverse stylings, tracing the influences of Rubin, Lefebvre, Mills, and possibly Kropotkin. Perlman’s breakthrough it to generalise a heterodox marxian critique of social reproduction to include but exceed productive relations. Thus he explicitly sets the State in analytical parity with Capital, theorising authority as a fetish distinct from exchange value. Implicitly, he points to other containers for alienated powers, including the family, religion and scholarship. Perlman’s model of self- and community powers remains incomplete, however, eliding constitutive violence and inviting engagement with current intersectional approaches.
Keywords: Fredy Perlman (1934-1985), alienation, New Left, power, the State
Session 5B
Chair: Benjamin Abrams
Zoom host: Matthijs Gardenier
Claire Crawford
(King’s College London)
The Movement and its Fragments: Considering social movements through postcolonial theory
Abstract: Social movement scholarship in the West is reckoning with its own Eurocentrism. Beyond new empirical studies in the Global South, scholars such as Fadaee (2016), Cox, Nilsen & Pleyers (2017), and Bayat (2013) have proposed that approaches, definitions and categories must be re-examined. This paper takes up that challenge through the lens of postcolonial theorising on resistance and knowledge production (Scott, 1985; Chatterjee, 1993, 2004; Chakrabarty, 2004), and traces the ways in which the study of social movements has been narrowed by institutional, disciplinary, and therefore theoretical boundaries. A key example of this is the attempt to historicise and universalise the definition of ‘social movement’, especially by Charles Tilly, which has failed to create analytical clarity. Instead, the consequence of this has been the exclusion of significant existing work on resistance and popular politics in the Global South. The second part of the paper considers how this analytical bind is increasingly visible, and thus urgent to address, in work on digital movements. Manuel Castells’ influential depiction of the “information age” (1998; 2012) describes how the context of the digital transforms time and space, but suffers from a historicism that assumes this transformation will take place in the same way across every time and every space. A postcolonial approach to digital social movements is necessary to better understand relationships of power, context, agency, and (re)presentation, and to resist developmentalist and Eurocentric narratives.
Keywords: Postcolonial theory, Eurocentrism, Global South, social movement theory, digital activism, Information Age
Chungse Jung
(Binghamton University)
From Semiperiphery to Strong Periphery: Transforming Epicenter of Antisystemic Movements in the Global South
Abstract: This study explores the world-historical activities of popular protests in the global South according to the transforming zones of the capitalist world-economy. The identification of three broad zones, core-semiperiphery-periphery, in the capitalist world-economy is a key contribution to the world-systems analysis for understanding structural transformations of global economic and political order. This study empirically examines what the political role of the semiperiphery in the structure of the world-economy was and how the centerpiece of antisystemic movements in the global South changed. To this end, this study searches for around 20,000 protest events spanning 43 countries/regions in the global South in The New York Times from 1870 to 2016. Empirically, popular protests during the long twentieth century mainly occurred in the semiperipheral countries and regions (core-contenders and upper-tier semiperiphery). That is, semiperiphery had been a powerhouse of antisystemic dynamics and had functioned as a revolutionary space rather than a stabilizer of the world-economy. In particular, the upper-tier semiperiphery took a central place during the first two protest waves: the 1930s and the long 1950s, and the core-contenders dominated the third protest wave in the 1980s. However, popular protests of the semiperiphery absolutely and then relatively began to decline in the late 20th century alongside an overall decline in popular protests of the global South. Popular protests in the periphery (strong periphery and weak periphery) drastically rose from the beginning of the 21st century. After the bifurcation of the pattern of antisystemic struggles between semiperiphery and periphery, the global epicenter center of counter-hegemonic forces has thus shifted from the core-contenders to the strong periphery. This outcome demonstrates that the strong periphery emerged as a revolutionary space during the time of the U.S. hegemony crisis.
Keywords: Antisystemic movements; Semiperiphery; Capitalist World-Economy; Protest Wave; World-systems Analysis
Federico M. Rossi
(CONICET-UNSAM, Argentina – Humboldt-GIGA, Germany)
Capitalist Dynamics and Social Movements
Abstract: Capitalism and social movements dynamics are intimately related, but they are also undertheorized in social movement studies. Even though many social movement struggles around the world are directly or indirectly related to a socioeconomic issue, extensive analysis of the political economy of movements has been largely ignored by North Atlantic social movement scholars. This oversight is particularly concerning considering that the claims of movements
generally include calls for alternative politico-economic models and for social justice, broadly conceived. However, this path of the North Atlantic literature was not followed in the rest of the world, where most social conflicts happen. Thus, beyond the growing interest in the North and the sustained interest in the South, the discussion about capitalism and social movements is still not organized as a political economy of social movements. I offer a theoretical alternative with the proposal to analyze capitalism as a relational process constituted by temporal, spatial, and phenomenological dimensions. The aim is to recouple these dimensions of capitalism and social movements in dynamic terms to bring together a political economy of social movements superseding the functionalist notion of grievance construction and mobilization.
Keywords: distributive conflicts, incorporation, models of development, phenomenology, political economy, social question
Ben Manski
(George Mason University )
Systemic movements, next system studies, and the other world that is possible
Abstract: By the turn of the millennium the anti-systemic politics that characterized movements of the 1990s U.S. had begun to reconfigure into systemic movement projects. “Anti-globalization” became “global justice,” “anti-corporate” became “democracy,” “anti-global warming” became “climate justice” and the Green New Deal, the strands of “anti-capitalist” regrouped as “socialist,” and “anti-police brutality” and “anti-carceral” became “abolitionist.” These reframings were elements produced from a series of anarchist, democratic, and global “movement turns”﹘closely linked reorientations of popular movements around paradigms of autonomy, participation, and globality. Together, these turns resulted in movements with significantly altered goals, practices, and trajectories from those of the preceding period.

Today, activists in the United States and across the globe practice the systemic politics of the solidarity economy, revolutionary constitutionalism, abolition, community wealth building, platform cooperativism, and climate transition. In the process, these 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 undertaken research oriented to the knowledge needs of the new movements. 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.

I rely on a movement building analysis of data from a cross-section of activists, academics and projects involved in these parallel efforts to assess how they are related and how academic researchers and other workers can best assist systemic social movements. I also take lessons from the first two years of building a community-engaged Next System Studies research and teaching program at George Mason University. Altogether, this paper addresses the origins, trajectories, and knowledge production practices of efforts to actualize the claim that “another world is possible,” as well as the relationship of those efforts to the emergence of a field of next system studies. What can these systemic movements of the 21st century teach us about system design and system change? What are and should be the roles of academic scholars in accompanying these movements?

Keywords: System change, antisystemic, next system, systemic
Session 5C
Chair: Jacqueline del Castillo
Zoom host: Kevin Gillan
Johan Gordillo-Garcia
(The University of Edinburgh)
Social movements and political-emotional communities. An approach from the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico
Abstract: What characterizes the bonds formed in the social mobilizations led by victims of extreme violence? I build upon the work of a cluster of Latin-American social anthropologists (Jimeno, 2010; Macleod & De Marinis, 2018) that study the relationships between victims of extreme violence and several publics, linking their conceptual proposal to the literature on social movements. My main argument is that the sustained participation in the contentious repertoire of social movements led by victims of extreme violence fosters a special type of bonds between the directly aggrieved and the sympathetic allies that can be conceptualized as a political-emotional community. To illustrate this, I use the case of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico. Drawing on twelve in-depth interviews and a documentary review, I develop my analysis focusing on two key characteristics of political-emotional communities: the sharing of testimonios (testimonial narratives) and the development of a victim-centered ethos. Overall, this article advances our understanding of the dynamics through which allies that are not directly aggrieved by extreme violence develop a sense of community with the victims.
Keywords: political-emotional communities, contentious repertoires, victims of violence, community-building, Mexico
Mariam Kalandadze
(Free University of Tbilisi/School of Governance and Social Sciences)
Dynamics of Standing with Ukraine: Injustice Frame and Emotions in Solidarity Protests in Georgia
Abstract: Following the Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, on February 24, solidarity protests broke out in Tbilisi, Georgia. But soon, following the statements of Georgia’s high ranking officials, participants of the protests along with supporting Ukraine, demanded the resignation of the Georgian Government. Decision of not participating in sanctions against Russia and other statements of Georgian Government that did not express support for Ukraine were understood as immoral and unjust. Banners and signs of mobilized society were covered in words like “I am Georgian and I am sorry for my Government”, “Unlike our Government, we Georgian people stand with Ukraine”. Emotions of indignation and shame were shared by majority of Georgians participating in solidarity protests.

The aim of this research is to describe and understand emotions within the “double” frame of injustice, one concerning war in Ukraine, and other Georgian Government.

Qualitative as well as Quantitative approach has been applied to this research. Along with participant observation, in-depth semi-structured interviews have been conducted. Participants of the protests completed the surveys either on site or online.

Results of the research show that while often indignation and anger are understood as the subsequent emotions to unjust circumstances, analyzing various emotions within the frame of injustice may be equally important. As participants of solidarity protests in Georgia expressed shame of their Government, injustice frame was followed by an adversarial frame, differentiating Georgian people from their Government. Shame – emotion that was formed within the injustice frame along with indignation affected the collective action. Formation of various emotions in addition to indignation over the war in Ukraine reflected on the number of protestors and mobilization.

Research of solidarity protests for Ukraine in Georgia on the one hand, studies an event that hasn’t been analyzed through scientific approach before and on the other hand, contributes to literature on emotions and injustice frames in social protests.

Keywords: Emotions, Collective Action Frames, Injustice Frames, Social Protests, Identity.
Geoffrey Pleyers
(FNRS – UCLouvain)
Shifting the analysis of confluence in social movement studies: From organisations and frames to activist cultures
Abstract: The question of the unity of a social movement remains a challenging one for any theory of social movement and a practical one for empirical research on contemporary movements. Most theories in social movement studies situate the unity of a “mobilization” or “collective action” at three main levels: events (demonstrations, occupied squares…), organisations (SMOs) and claims (converging frames).

Reflecting on research conducted in the past 20 years and on literature in social movement studies, this contribution sheds light on an analytical level that is neither the social movement as a historical actor, nor the organizations and people that embody it. It explores social movements as confluences of “activist cultures”, understood as coherent sets of normative orientations anchored in a vision of the world, of social change, of the adversary and of the role/sense of the movement, which guides the practices of the actors and the organizing of the movement (Pleyers, 2010).

While each social movement proposes a relationship to politics, democracy, gender, the planet or national identity, this relationship is not univocal. Every movement and its different manifestations (demonstrations, organisations, occupied squares…) are animated by different activist cultures. Within the same movement (feminist, ecology, global justice…), some activists focus on policy makers while others do not expect anything from them and favor prefigurative activism or autonomous spaces. How to explain that in the same global justice movement, some activists implemented horizontal practices, while other adopted hierarchical structures? Recent research have underlined these differences go far beyond tactical options or levels of radicalism.

As an intermediary analytical level, the focus on “activist cultures” reveals insightful to understand social movements, their international tensions and some of their evolutions. Within a social movement, cultures of activists interact, dialogue, clash, challenge each other and sometimes transform each other in cross-fertilization processes. The later reveals crucial to adapt the movement and its tactics to an evolving political situation or to bring creative solutions to problems arising from previous stages of mobilization.

Keywords: social movements, confluence, activist culture,
Alexandre Christoyannopoulos
(Loughborough University)
Pacifism and Nonviolence: Delineating the contours of a new research agenda
Abstract: Despite having long been dismissed as utopian and ineffective, what advocates of pacifism and nonviolence have been recommending is increasingly proving to be both effective and no less realistic than more violent alternatives. The scholarship on pacifism and nonviolence has also been burgeoning. However, plenty of research is still needed on a wide range of topics including: the varieties of approaches to nonviolence and pacifism; central accusations against pacifism; the tensions between pacifism and nonviolence; theories and practices outside the Global North; the multiple direct and indirect consequences of violence; the place of violence and nonviolence in political thought; the relationship between violence/nonviolence and gender, race, and other social identities; the religious roots of pacifism and nonviolence; the place of violence and nonviolence in popular culture (and the interests this serves); the potential for practical nonviolent policies of governance; predominant assumptions concerning violence in IR (about e.g. terrorism, the international order, just war); what makes an act ‘violence’ and when direct action becomes ‘violent’; and methodological challenges in the study and pedagogy of nonviolence and pacifism. The aim of this intervention is to make the case for an ambitious multidisciplinary research agenda that will address these topics, and to articulate some of the concrete research questions which it gives rise to.
Keywords: pacifism, nonviolence, nonviolent protest, research agenda
Session 5D
Chair: Birgan Gokmenoglu
Zoom host: Meghan Tinsley
Josh Bunting
(University of Manchester)
Where the People Rule: Decolonising Democracy and Decentering Western Liberalism
Abstract: The word democracy means rule by the people (Meiksins Wood, 2017). While studying the politicisation of activists who participated in the 2010-14 UK student movement, it became clear that one of the main issues at stake was the perceived lack of democratic oversight of the policy of university marketisation. The policy enacted by the coalition government in 2010 was unpopular, one of the parties had promised to oppose it during the election campaign, and the main response to opposition was police violence. At no point could the decision making or implementation process be described as democratic; when it comes to education policy, the people do not rule here.

Interestingly, the student movement itself was often organised, with varying degrees of success, in a radically democratic fashion. This form of organisation is often derided and dismissed as unrealistic or unscalable in both political and intellectual spheres, yet there is extensive and increasing evidence that polities organised on similar lines have existed and thrived in places and periods outside of modern liberal states. (Wiredu, 1995, Graeber and Wengrow, 2021). With this in mind, we need to reassess the concept of democracy to encompass a wider range of possibilities for democratic life. Decolonising democracy involves respecting the history and philosophy of democratic polities beyond the west, and recognising that western liberal polities are extremely limited in comparison to traditions of popular rule that have existed beyond Europe.

This paper offers several provocations, firstly, is it conceptually accurate to describe liberal societies as democratic? To what extent does western social science reproduce ruling ideology rather than critically examining western polities? What can western political philosophy be taught by the history and philosophy of more complex polities? Does this knowledge of histories of popular rule change the way we approach democratic social movements?

Keywords: Democracy, Decolonisation, Student Movement, History
Soumodip Sinha
(Department of Sociology, University of Delhi, India)
Protest as ‘capital’: a digital ethnography of student political activism amid the Pandemic
Abstract: From making life comfortable to organizing protests from the comforts of one’s homes, internet-driven social media platforms have become rays of hope in championing rights, justice and freedoms. Its true power and potential for student political activism in University of Delhi was realized with the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Strategies had to be altered by student parties in relation to expressing dissent; petitioning demands to university authorities or to institutions of the state at large. Such was done in order to remain relevant, foster visibility, sustain recognition and most importantly, to attain symbolic capital. Students, who were always on the streets—ready to register their protests against matters concerning student welfare or of a political nature, had to re-invent their strategies and contend themselves by largely relying on social media in order to advance their opinion or dissent.
Arguing that social media platforms are tools of ‘political action’ together with being means for ‘communicative action’; this paper intersects the fields of social movement studies, sociology of higher education and studies of media. It addresses the vacuum in an under-researched area of study, at least in the case of student politics in India. It demonstrates how student political activists in the University adapted to such alterations and adopted hybrid methods of protest during the Pandemic. Using interviews with student activists and content from social media accounts of student organizations between March 2020 and July 2021, it makes an attempt at digital ethnography and relies on Pierre Bourdieu’s theoretical framework to argue that the medium of protest has enabled student activists to possess and accumulate political capital and an interrelated form—digital capital.In doing so it examines how social media can be conceptualized as a ‘theatre of political action’, re-configuring the public sphere, ideologies, imaginaries and strategies of collective action.
Keywords: Digital ethnography, Hybrid activism, Pierre Bourdieu, Social media, Covid-19 Pandemic, University of Delhi
Louis Edgar Esparza Aditi Sapra
(California State University-Los Angeles)
Teaching the Sustainable Development Goals
Abstract: This article discusses a case study on campus organizing around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the relationship between social movements and the SDGs. The SDGs take deliberate steps to reach a desirable standard of living for the typical individual on Earth. Current standards for the typical individual are substantially lower than that of inhabitants of the US, UK, EU, or Japan. For perspective, an income of just $35,000 USD will put one in the top 1% of all income earners on Earth. Looking at the UNICEF Tap Project and the Oxfam Hunger Banquet, the article explores pedagogical modalities for teaching about global inequality. We also discuss and respond to critiques of the SDGs, thinking broadly about the concept of development. The article emphases the important role of movements and individuals to the advancement of human rights.
Keywords: human rights; social movements; teaching; development
Rajeev Dubey
(Banaras Hindu University)
Public Sphere, Student activism and Democracy in India
Abstract: Public sphere is one of the conduits through which society and the state comes into contact. It denotes a discursive and liberal realm in which diverse views are contested and public opinion is formed. In a democratic society taking cognizance of and being sensitive to such public opinion and public interest is sine qua non for guiding the state’s decision making and policies. Viewing from such a vantage point, the importance of public sphere is not only limited to its intrinsic value as an ideal per se, rather a vibrant public sphere becomes a medium through which the roots of democracy is strengthened and nourished in a society.

Institutions of higher education are ideally poised to create and sustain the public sphere. They can provide a discursive and dialogic space which promotes open conversation and rational critical discourse in which participants are treated equally. Therefore, as a natural corollary student activism in these institutions of higher education, as a prime medium of creating and sustaining public sphere acquires immense significance in a democratic society like ours. It is in this context, this paper endeavors to address questions like- when juxtaposed to each other, how does the idea of public sphere, student activism, institutions of higher education and democracy square with each other? What is the existing nature of public sphere emanating from student activism in institutions of higher education? How far in the era of neoliberalism have the institutions of higher education been successful in nurturing public sphere and strengthening the ethos of democracy? This paper tends to argue that public sphere, student activism in the institutions of higher education and democracy are umbilically connected and entwined together. They mutually reinforce each other and any change in one is bound to impact others.

Keywords: public sphere, student activism, democracy, neo-liberalism
15:15 – 15:30
Comfort Break

Chile: Towards a Laboratory of Social Change?

For the last two years, Chile has been on its path towards historic changes that make the possibility that the country, which has been widely acknowledged as the first laboratory of neoliberalism, also become the place where neoliberalism will die. In October 2019, large-scale protests across the country, known as the Estallido Social, emerged to fight injustice and inequality, and opened up the political opportunity to replace Pinochet’s constitution through a fully elected constitutional assembly with gender parity and set quotas for Indigenous people’s delegates.

Last December 2021, Gabriel Boric, a former student leader, was elected as Chile’s president. Boric’s victory could be seen as the legacy of the Chilean student movement that provided a framework to understand this shift. Gabriel Boric is part of a radical generation of student leaders who were catapulted into the spotlight during the 2011 Chilean student protests that demanded a radical reform of the Chilean neoliberal market-driven education system. In 2013, the election of four former student leaders, including Gabriel Boric, as MPs gained international attention as it was interpreted as providing hope to dismantle the system from within.

This panel will reflect on the legacy of the Chilean student movement to pave the way for Boric’s promise to bury the legacy of the neoliberal economic model once and for all comes true. It addresses questions about the nature of radical changes in politics led by the Chilean student movement. It debates the legacy of the Chilean student movement to reframe a new relationship between social movements and the government to either transform or prompt a new model of democracy. The panel will also discuss the legacy of the Chilean student movement in the current constitutional process, reflecting on how the demand for free public quality education ended up paving the path towards a laboratory of social change in Chile.

This is a fully online event. It is open to the public via registration at Eventbrite. AFPP delegates do not need to register separately.


Prof Carlos Ruiz Encina is a sociologist, with a PhD in Latin American Studies. Prof Ruiz-Encina’s work is at the crossroad of social movements, neoliberalism and democratic transformation in the Latin American region. Prof Ruiz-Encina works in the Latin American Studies Programme and the Social Sciences Doctoral Programme at the Universidad de Chile. He has recently published Chilean October: the emergence of a new people (2020, Taurus) which addresses the crisis of neoliberal subjects depicted by the Chilean current social uprising. His academic and intellectual, along with his political activism have transformed him into one of the most interesting critical scholars of the region.
Dr Juan Pablo Rodríguez is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Social Science, University of Chile, and an honorary research fellow at the Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (COES). He is the author of Resisting Neoliberal Capitalism in Chile: the possibility of social critique (2020). His research interests include political sociology, social movements, constitutional sociology, and social theory. Currently, he leads a project titled “From the streets to the Convention: controversies on the rights to water, education, and housing in the process of constitutional change in Chile”
Dr Lieta Vivaldi Macho is a feminist scholar with a PhD in Sociology from Goldsmiths, University of London. She currently works at the Universidad Alberto Hurtado where she runs the research cluster on the constitutional process in Chile. Her research focuses on human rights, sexual and reproductive rights, sociology and law, biopolitics, and feminisms. She is a lawyer and diplomate in gender and violence from the Universidad de Chile, and also works as a researcher at the Center of Applied Ethics (CEDEA) at the University of Chile, and as an associate researcher of the Faculty of Law at Universidad Diego Portales. She is a board member of the International Institute for Philosophy and Social Studies, IIPSS (Santiago, Chile), and the Chilean Feminist Lawyer Association (ABOFEM).
Dr Victor Orellana Calderon is a sociologist with a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Chile. His research is at the crossroad of higher education, free market-driven education agendas, and class structure. He is currently co-leading, in collaboration with the University of Chile, a research project on experiential education in Santiago de Chile. Victor has been a grassroots student activist quite involved the political reconstruction of the Chilean student movement since the early 2000s. He is a member of the leftist think tank Fundacion Nodo XXI and a militant of the Comunes party in the Frente Amplio in Chile.

Wednesday 15th June

09:30 – 11:00
Simultaneous Session 7
Session 7A
Chair: Martin Greenwood
Zoom host: Meghan Tinsley
Tomas Pewton
(University of Sofia)
An Alternative Food System
Abstract: The production, distribution and consumption of food is at the centre of any society and it is a question that therefore must take precedence over most. My paper will first give a critique of our current food system before discussing the possibility, fight and realisation for an alternative. Leaning upon my own experience as a worker for the food co-operative OrganicLea, alongside wider movements such as the Landworkers Alliance and Via Campesina, I will illustrate what an alternative food system might look like. I will discuss how such groups are working towards a more just and sustainable food production system that puts people and the planet before profit, with the aim of better access to land, seed and water for all, prioritizes ecologically and sustainable methods, with all of this helping towards the overall aim of food sovereignty, and how such “utopian” ideas are flourishing in a far from utopian present.
To conclude I will show how the production and distribution of food is only a small part of the fight and that it is linked to the wider fight of social justice, including topics such as the fight against climate change and equality.
Keywords: food, justice, ecology, applied ethics
Juliette Wilson-Thomas
(Manchester Metropolitan University)
Time’s up: Analyzing the feminist potential of time banks
Abstract: Time banks are an alternative economic system proposed to address social problems by stimulating work and exchange through time-based currency. They aim to redefine work and money, through building social capital to alleviate social problems. As women are disproportionately affected by these problems, it follows that membership is predominantly female, often poor. This article takes the position that time banks provide a lens through which to theorize the feminist potential of alternative forms of economic organization. It examines the ways in which feminists, and time banks, have sought to redefine the concepts of work and money, as well as the context of time banks within the Third Sector. “The reality” of these concepts in practice is then critically analyzed using empirical data from a year as an active participant within a time bank. The findings demonstrate the complex issues regarding how the time bank functioned in practice, particularly in relation to how members engaged with it, and articulated their participation. Further, the way in which the system co-opted feminist potentials of alternative economic practices as part of the Third Sector, through a conception of social capital, is shown to be problematic in terms of exploiting the energies of already exploited women. This research shows the need for ongoing critical examination of initiatives targeted at social problems, particularly those mirroring feminist activism, in order to prevent the co-option of energies and work.
Keywords: time bank, feminist, money, alternative economy
Leonie Guerrero Lara, Julia Spanier & Giuseppe FEola
(Utrecht University)
A one-sided love affair? An empirical study on the potential of a coalition between the Degrowth and Community Supported Agriculture movement in Germany
Abstract: The degrowth community has started to pay tribute to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a grassroots response to the threat the global, industrial agri-food system poses to the agroecological practices of smallholders. CSA initiatives are commonly considered embodiments of degrowth and prefigurative illustrations of a degrowth transformation. However, this currently seems to be rather a one-sided love affair; in Germany, the national CSA network does not have a formal position towards degrowth let alone a formal partnership, and very few CSA initiatives explicitly embrace degrowth. In this article, we use the case of the German CSA movement to undertake a systematic analysis of the potential role of CSA as an ally of the degrowth movement in Germany by analysing the movements’ ideological and strategic compatebility. For this purpose, we draw on social movement theories, in particular the movements’ alignment in terms of framing, action repertoires, and already established coalitions as well as factors for coalition building that could facilitate the formation of an alliance. We performed participant observation of the German CSA network, as well as semi-structured interviews with five members of the network, four members of individual CSA initiatives, as well as with five activists and scholars of the German degrowth movement. We find that their distinct diagnostic and prognostic framing, as well as their intended audience for a long time made a formal coalition unlikely. Moreover, there is a perceived mismatch in the nature of the respective movements; the degrowth movement is perceived as an academic discourse that is too abstract for those in the CSA movement who identify as a ‘practioner movement’. At best, an informal coalition with the sufficiency-centred degrowth current seems feasible due to the personal ties with the CSA network. We argue that, embracing the broader (non-sufficiency) frame of degrowth is needed for the CSA movement to address the structural pressures and constraints the growth-based society poses.
Keywords: alliance, degrowth, post-growth, community supported agriculture, social movements
Session 7B
Chair: Josh Bunting
Zoom host: Luke Yates
Dustie Spencer & Ritumbra Manuvie
(Pusan National University)
Are Antifeminists Swallowing the Same Black Pill? Transnational Discourse in Asia’s Manosphere
Abstract: Antifeminist discourse, including graphic, violent threats have thrived on the Internet in recent years, bridging otherwise seemingly isolated individuals with fringe political opinions. Popular internet forums such as 4chan, Korea’s Ilbe, and even mainstream Meta platforms have provided space for many young men to post antifeminist sentiment. Rather than being isolated, they have created transnational linkages and have gained influence in offline politics of the far right, who in turn echo discourse from the so-called ‘manosphere’ in order to court young, male voters. The election of Trump despite openly misogynistic rhetoric and the recent (2022) electoral victory for Yoon of the conservative People Power party in South Korea are clear indications that antifeminist rhetoric is not limited to fringe politics nor isolated to any single country.
This study draws from interviews of young Indian and Korean men and women on their perspectives towards gender equality and their framings of feminism issues. A complementary digital analysis of populist misogynistic online trope examines how online discourse influences mainstream political attitudes and opinions via political leaders who have adopted the framing of feminism as a threat to male power and economic prosperity. This is a pilot of a larger study on the transnationalization of antifeminist discourse as a tool of authoritarian leaders which uniquely draws from both South and East Asian participants. As both countries rank low in gender equality, have active online and offline attacks on feminism exacerbated by the experience of covid, they serve as an ideal study for understanding global trends in antifeminist rhetoric and the offline consequences.
Keywords: Antifeminist discourse, Asian feminism, political framing, transnational discourse, manosphere
Mert Büyükkarabacak
(Independent / Academics for Peace)
Recasting the Class Conflict
Abstract: Right-wing populist parties have used their responses to the social inequalities created by neoliberalism to gain power but have not made a radical transformation in income distribution. Since coming to power in Turkey, the AKP has deepened neoliberal policies with both privatization and marketization.
However, despite these practices, the support the AKP received from the subaltern classes, which could be seen as one of the most important anchors of its 21-year rule, has largely continued. If patronage networks are an important reason for this, another factor is that the AKP has managed to culturalize a conflict “between classes” and substitute it with an “intra-class” one. The manipulation of contradictions between the working-class fractions (precariat/proletariat) employed in white-collar jobs, didn’t completely lose their rural ties, and middle classes who has developed cultural capital, greatly lost their rural bonds, employed in white collar jobs provided AKP the capacity to govern its crisis without implementing re-distributive policies. The political consequence of the anxiety of class decline created by what we can describe as the precarization of the middle classes and which we can witness on a global scale is that they have not developed the capacity to come together with the lower classes on the axis of an egalitarian political program. The precarization of the middle classes and the gradual loss of the ability of education to provide status to the wider middle classes could also be bonded to political support for right-wing populism, as it created a perception of equality in the lower classes.
By preventing the lower and middle classes from creating a popular democratic movement, the AKP has managed to maintain its capacity to solve the problem of capital representation to the extent that it can prevent the threat of re-distribution.
In this article, I will make the manipulation of the contradiction between the precarious/proletariat and the middle classes during decisive critical junctures (Gezi, coup attempt, pandemics, devaluations etc.) visible as a management technique of the AKP in Turkey by taking advantage of Bourdieu’s class analysis and sociocultural approach to populism.
Keywords: Turkish politics, class politics, right-wing populism, Bourdieu
Matthijs Gardenier
(University Montpellier Paul Valéry)
Anti-migrant mobilisations around Channel Small Boat crossings
Abstract: As small boat crossings became the main means of crossing between France and the United Kingdom, they gained increased visibility in the British media. The summer of 2020 saw a series of activist stunts and demonstrations from a whole series of actors from the British far right that mobilised around that issue: political organisations, single-issue movements centred around migration and, finally, a new figure in social movements, video activists, halfway between classical activism and journalism, and whose impact on social media has been significant. Rather than coordinated campaigns, each actor carried out activities in relative isolation.
The repertoire of action of these groups relied mainly on the practice of demonstration and performative vigilantism: activists staged foot and boat patrols. These practices were primarily symbolic and did not have the potentially violent character of those of the anti-migrant groups in Calais. The aim was not to fight migrants on the ground (the way the British authorities are handling the situation does not really allow for this), but to construct asylum seekers as an intrinsically criminal group that would threaten the national body. Most of these groups fall into a space that overlaps with the radical right and civic nationalism. This space seems to be characterised above all by a very strong rejection of Islam and a radicalism that is less than that of groups that fall within the field of the hard right and the ethno-nationalist extreme, such as Patriotic Alternative. Nevertheless, analysis of certain individual trajectories can lead to a nuance in these distinctions, as the boundaries between ethno-nationalism and civic nationalism seem more blurred at the level of individual commitments than at the level of constituted groups.
The use of social media, as we have seen, is central to the mobilisation of these groups. These do not function as simple communication tools, but rather determine social movement activity. Banner drops, demonstrations and patrols are broadcast live online and constitute a performance directly oriented towards their communitarian audience. To this extent, it would almost be possible to say that the medium is the movement. This fusion finds its most accomplished character in the figure of the video activist, who is both an activist and a journalist. The latter simultaneously films his or her daily activist actions while providing a form of activist journalism by filming the crossings in order to render them visible.
Keywords: social movements, anti-migrant vigilantism, social reaction to migration, digital activism, video activism
Hilary Darcy
Responsive or creative community and workplace approaches to counter the rise of the far right? Strategy dilemmas of social movements in Ireland and beyond.
Abstract: Responsive or creative community and workplace approaches to counter the rise of the far right? Strategy dilemmas of social movements in Ireland and beyond.

Social and political cleavages across Europe are changing, giving rise to a new tripolar political space (Oesch 2018), bringing new threats and opportunities to the fore. The rise and mainstreaming of the radical right, motivated by a belief in natural inequality and a violent rejection of diversity, is one of the greatest threats in Europe currently (Mondon & Winter 2020). We can identify a global trend towards authoritarianism at state level in attempts to reject and roll back human rights and to discipline dissent (Azzellini 2021). Across Europe, all communities share interests in countering climate change and fighting for decent living and working conditions. It is in these shared interests that we find opportunities to counter the rise of the radical right and forge positive political dynamics across communities on the margins in Europe. In Ireland, following a surge in far right organising from 2016 onwards, community and workplace organisers, bringing together networks forged through successful social movement struggle, have developed and provided training to activists to counter the rise of hate movements. Since 2020, we have come up against interesting strategy dilemmas. Should we adopt responsive or creative approaches to counter the rise of the far right? This paper will discuss the evolution of the training we run and illustrate some of the dilemmas we face, seeking feedback from the AFPP community.

Keywords: Movement education, strategy, dilemma, anti-fascist, far-right.
11:00 – 11:15
Comfort Break

Social Movements and Anti-Racism

In one of few empirical accounts of anti-racist organising in Britain, Alana Lentin (2004) highlights that anti-racism has rarely been considered a serious topic of scholarly concern. In the years since Lentin’s study was conducted, we have witnessed a burgeoning interest in anti-racist practices within the academy and academic scholarship, and perhaps more importantly, the last two years have seen some of the most significant waves of global anti-racist protest on record. Yet research focusing on anti-racist activists, movements, and mobilisations remains surprisingly underdeveloped, constrained by the silos of ‘social movement studies’ on the one hand, and ‘race and ethnicity studies’ on the other. Anti-racist practices within universities often remain disconnected from broader anti-racist mobilisations, while research in social movement studies has tended to neglect the structuring power of ‘race’ and the material realities of racism within and beyond movements.

This session will bring together scholars and activists working at the intersections of social movement studies, ‘race’/racism studies and anti-racisms to consider the following questions:

  • Can and should anti-racism be revived as a topic of academic interest?
  • How can social movement scholars better address questions of ‘race’/racisms?
  • How can debates around ‘race’/racisms (within and beyond the academy) better connect with wider social movements?
  • What might a field of ‘anti-racism studies’ look like, and what use might it be?

Note: in a change from the draft programme this is now a fully online event. It is open to the public via registration at Eventbrite. AFPP delegates do not need to register separately.


Meghan Tinsley is Presidential Fellow in Ethnicity and Inequalities at the University of Manchester. Her current research examines how anti-racist and anti-colonial movements challenge the material traces of empire, build new monuments, and write new stories. More broadly, her research interests include nationalism, racism, and the memory of empire. Meghan is the author of Commemorating Muslims in the First World War Centenary: Making Melancholia (Routledge, 2022). Her work has also been published in a number of international sociological and interdisciplinary journals, including Identities, Critical Sociology, Memory Studies, Ethnic & Racial Studies, Current Sociology, and Postcolonial Studies.
Trevor Ngwane is a scholar activist of 30 years’ experience. He obtained his PhD (Sociology) at the University of Johannesburg where he now teaches and is also director of the Centre for Sociological Research and Practice. He continues his participation in political, labour, and community movements. His book is Amakomiti – Grassroots Democracy in South African Shack Settlements (Pluto Press 2021).
Alana Lentin. Teacher and writer, Alana Lentin is a Jewish European woman who is a settler on Gadigal-Wangal land (Sydney, Australia). She works on the critical theorization of race, racism and antiracism. Her latest book is Why Race Still Matters (Polity 2020) and she previously published The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a neoliberal age with Gavan Titley (Zed, 2011). She co-edits the Rowman & Littlefield ‘Challenging Migration Studies’ books series and the ‘Decolonization and Social Worlds’ series at Bristol University Press. She is an editorial board member of Ethnic and Racial Studies and Identities among other journals. Her academic and media articles as well as videos, podcasts, and teaching materials are free to be used and available at
John Narayan is a Lecturer in European and International Studies at King’s College London. His most recent research has focused on the understudied transnationalism of Black Power and political theory created by groups such as The Black Panther Party. John also sits on the council of The Institute of Race Relations and is part of the Editorial Working Committee for Race & Class.
12:45 – 13:45
Lunch Break
13:45 – 15:15
Simultaneous Session 9
Session 9A
Chair: Hamid Rezai
Zoom host: Kevin Gillan
Astrid Heidemann Simonsen
(Independent scholar)
Nonviolence as a Hurrah-word: Exploring the complexity of nonviolent resistance
Abstract: The concept of nonviolent civil resistance is becoming increasingly important as an ideology or strategy for collective action and resistance movements (Bartkowski ed, 2013); as an area of academic study and activist education (Carter, 2009); and in wider public discourse about the “right” way to protest or be a resistance movement. The organising principles, rapid rise, and popularity of a movement such as Extinction Rebellion is a good example of this.
This paper analyses this development in a somewhat critical light, arguing that nonviolence has become a “hurrah-word”, that is, a catch phrase that instantly excites the listener and encourages them to side with the speaker. While this may sound advantageous, hurrah-words are able to have this effect on so many people because they are highly abstract terms, lacking clear substance (Jensen, 2003). This tends to make statements of nonviolent tactics or ideologies sound uncontroversial and unifying, despite underlying disagreements and tensions around fundamental questions such as: why nonviolence? where is the line between violence and nonviolence? can we cooperate with groups that use violent tactics? and which forms of violence do we count when we say we do not use violence?
This paper will focus on the field of nonviolence studies, while using cases of nonviolent resistance to demonstrate the very concrete consequences it can have when an influential area of study treats its central concept as self-evident, universal, and almost uniformly unproblematic. Rather than argue for an increased focus on field studies and empirical data to remedy this, the paper argues that it is in large part an atheoretical treatment of the central concepts and definitional tensions that lead to this issue, and starts an analysis and discussion to remedy this, adding range and nuance to a field dominated by a naturalist and increasingly quantitative approach.
Keywords: nonviolent resistance, violence, movement narrative, nonviolence studies, Extinction Rebellion
Federico Schuster
(Universidad de Buenos Aires)
Past, Present and Possible Futures of Social Protest and Politics in Argentina (1890-2022).
Abstract: Argentina has historically been a country with high levels of social mobilization. This was seen particularly during the years that closed the past century and opened the present. However, these days, in which social protest has become widespread in several Latin American countries in forms of social rebellion, in Argentina the protest was routed mostly through institutional channels within the political system. Why did such a thing happen? Is there a definitive change in the direction of social mobilization in the country? Is it a substantive change in political and social culture? We will try to propose some explanations in this regard, as well as analyze the possible alternatives that open up in the political future. The approach will be comparative, considering the situations that have occurred in other Latin American countries. This presentation proposes to address such questions in the light of a long-term historical-political study, in which we analyze in a comparative perspective the changes and continuities of social protest in Argentina. The work derives from an investigation that addresses from 1890 to the present. For such a vast period, we combine the methodology of event data analysis with historiographic analysis and historical-sociological analysis. We try to study the social and political processes linked to social protest, considering a) its subjects, b) its demands, c) its repertoires and d) its relation to political settings. The study conceptually and empirically addresses the categorical cleavages that have been structuring the forms, expressions and impacts of social protest.
Keywords: Protest, Politics, Mobilization, Political Institutions, History.
Emanuele Achino
(Università Piemonte Orientale)
Networking Attac: the local branch of Attac in Argentina
Abstract: Attac is a network of international social movement twin organizations, and the Argentinian branch was analysed to understand whether there are some interconnections with other organizations and, possibly, at what level. To do this, the political biographical approach and the social network analysis were developed by investigating on which other organizations the militants were simultaneously associated with. Although Attac-Argentine does not count so many activists, the data suggest that ‘numbers don’t count’. Instead, on the Pan-American scale, Attac-Argentine can count on a solid network of left-wing organizations through the militant political grid that represents an effective political option to Latin-American social-movement organizations.
Keywords: Political culture, Social movement organization, South America, Network analysis, Political Biogreaphies
Adélie Chevée
(Graduate Institute Geneva – European University Institute)
A professor in power: the social role of Burhan Ghalioun in the Syrian Uprising
Abstract: If recently, increasing scholarship has proposed to read the 2011 Uprisings from a Gramscian perspective (Achcar 2016; Chalcraft 2021; Gervasio & Manduchi 2021), the use of the notion of organic intellectual to analyse these processes remains marginal. The main assumption of the scholarship is that no organic intellectuals or ‘organic articulation’ (Chalcraft 2021) accompanied revolutionary mobilisation. The upheavals were, it seemed, a post-ideological moment, as the masses advanced with no visible revolutionary leaders or intellectual precepts (Bayat 2017, Achcar 2016). Adopting a gramscian perspective, this article looks at the puzzling anomaly of an intellectual who did work towards organic articulation, but who ultimately failed in this process by resigning within less than a year of his mandate. Burhan Ghalioun (born 1945), a notorious Syrian public intellectual, professor of sociology at the Sorbonne University in Paris, was the first chairman of the Syrian opposition Transitional National Council (SNC) in the early phase of the 2011 Syrian Uprising. His case is therefore particularly useful to examine organic articulation at the micro-level of analysis and to investigate the nature of intellectual activity in revolutionary moments. Based on an open-ended interview with Burhan Ghalioun and secondary literature, this article presents a thick description of a particular moment of the Syrian Uprising. The experience of Burhan Ghalioun suggests that an organic connection with the masses cannot stop at theoretical contributions. In Ghalioun’s perspective, organic intellectuals must be more than the ‘cultural intermediaries’ (Forgacs 1988) building the self-consciousness of a class. Rather, they should have a social role as active political members of revolutionary institutions.
Keywords: organic intellectual, mobilization, Syrian Uprising, leadership, revolution
Session 9B
Chair: Claire Crawford
Zoom host: Ivette Hernandez Santibañez
Rianka Roy
(Graduate student, Sociology, University of Connecticut, USA)
The Local Turn in Transnational Movements: How Indian Tech Unions Organize
Abstract: It is commonly held that to combat transnational corporate power in neoliberal globalization, transnational labor movements are essential. In that vein, Indian tech workers within a transnational corporate industry began to organize in the early 2000s, with help from global union federations. Activists from the Global North trained and funded Indian tech organizers. But by mid-2010s, these cross-border networks collapsed. Around the same time some new Indian tech groups emerged that eventually registered as trade unions. Unlike the previous groups, these trade unions could sue employers and achieved relative success in bargaining.

Keeping this transition at the center, in this paper I analyze 40 interviews with Indian tech union organizers and workers, and 1419 Facebook posts of three tech unions, to explore some new nuances of transnational labor solidarity. I find that current Indian tech unions utilize local resources through three new types of solidarity—political solidarity, solidarity with non-tech labor groups and translocal solidarity. This approach is radically different from earlier tech groups’ insistence on cross-border networking, while shunning local political opportunities and solidarity with non-tech labor.

However, I contend that Indian tech unions’ local turn does not suggest the end of transnational solidarity. Instead, Indian tech unions expand its meanings, and thus challenge two claims made in current literature. First, Indian tech unions’ local organizing shows that global and transnational labor solidarity neither has to mean only solidarity across borders nor the intervention of global union federations in the Global South. Second, with successful bargaining, Indian tech unions prove that to combat transnational corporate power, it is not absolutely necessary to form links with global unions or workers in other locations.

Keywords: Indian tech unions, transnational, global, local, solidarity
Manga Edimo Mireille
(IRIC, University of Yaounde II)
Contesting National Identity in Cameroon: The Online Anglophone Social Movement
Abstract: The Anglophone social movement refers to the various groups and individuals, including English-speakers citizens from the regions of North-west and South-west regions in Cameroon. Unlike the Cameroonian state’s elites, these citizens have gradually strived for a cultural ‘autonomy’, ‘economic’ and ‘political’ independence, ‘one federal state’, ‘separatism’, and an ‘Ambazonian’ free territory within the Cameroonian national parcels since the 1970s. Named ‘Anglophones’, these citizens have considered the Cameroonian state’s policies’ subversive’ and ‘marginalising’ in terms of their ‘inherited British cultures’ (Crisis Group 2017; Manga Edimo 2021). Meanwhile, they have intensively used modern information and communication technologies such as the Internet to advance their cultural and political arguments beyond conferences and trade unions and organisations. Anglophones have also confronted the state’s policies by showing evidence of both radicalised discourses and diverse forms of ‘religious’, political, and economic discourses that looked unstable and searched for distinct types of democratic legitimacy at different levels of the global society. This paper seeks to address the relationship between social movements’ use of online media and the quest for political and democratic rights and or democracy. Specifically, it seeks answers to how and why social activists engage in global South democracies through the Internet.
Keywords: Social movement, Internet, Democratisation, Contesting, Identity
Yerkebulan Sairambay
(Cambridge University)
Why Young Citizens Use or Do Not Use New Media in Political Participation
Abstract: In recent years, there has been widespread research on the role and effects of new media on political participation with the development of Web 2.0 and emergence of Web 3.0. The research agenda in the field is to investigate how and why citizens use new media in their political participation. In order to better examine why some young people use new media in their political participation and others do not, I analysed this question by employing uses and gratifications theory through the lens of the advantages and disadvantages of new media in promoting political participation in Russia and Kazakhstan. The data were collected from 2,400 respondents using Qualtrics surveys, semi-structured (n=90) and focus group (n=40) interviews in 18 cities, 18 towns, and 18 villages, suggesting a novel methodological perspective to study Russia and Kazakhstan. The findings demonstrate that among all advantages of using new media – cost-effectiveness, easiness to use, personalisation, alternativeness and opportunities – positively affect political participation, while the disadvantages of new media such as surveillance, fear of censorship, the lack of organisers, and ‘fakeness’ positively influence the political disengagement of young people. The present paper contends that the lens of advantages and disadvantages has particular significance in studying a ‘why’ question in the field of new media research, applying uses and gratifications theory. In addition, it presents a vivid and rich understanding of why young citizens do or do not use new media in their political participation.
Keywords: new media, political participation, uses and gratifications theory, Russia, Kazakhstan
Philip Creswell
(Uppsala University)
Why Does Anonymous Persist? High-leverage Digital Activism, Networks, and the Potential for Persistent Resistance
Abstract: The hacktivist scene known as Anonymous has existed since at least 2006 in one form or another. Despite having been declared dead on multiple occasions – by participants and observers alike – Anonymous continues to show up and protest. In 2022, they launched #OpRussia in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Anonymous hacked Colombian governmental websites in the wake of the brutal repression of protestors in 2021. And in 2020, they became involved in the demonstrations against the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. So, what is it that makes Anonymous different?

In this paper, I argue that our current models for understanding digitally mediated activism do not adequately theorize the persistence of Anonymous. Rather, theories such as connective action emphasize spontaneity, ad hoc organization, and individualized expressive participation, which relies on a discipline-wide – and often implicit – assumption regarding the strength of ties among activists involved in mediated activism. Using ethnographic data from my study of the hacktivist scene called Anonymous, I argue that current models for understanding digital engagement largely overlook the potential for risky and costly activist engagement online and the strength of interpersonal ties among activists. In doing so, these models overemphasize the reactive and ostensibly spontaneous nature of digital engagement – theorizing a kind of digital NiMBYism, rather than accounting for potential variations – and in doing so, repeat the mistakes of collective behavior and breakdown models of social movement participation. I argue, instead, that by considering the participatory pressures related to the perceived risks of participation, and by engaging in the literature developed to critique the aforementioned theoretical models, we can help to explain why Anonymous persists where so many others dissipate.

Keywords: digital activism, Anonymous, social movement theory, micromobilization, connective action, high-risk/cost activism
Session 9C
Chair: Sharma Shilpa
Zoom host: Matthijs Gardenier
Fernanda Martins & Fiammetta Bonfigli
(Professor of the Master’s in Human Rights at UniRitter University)
Transnational insurrections and new activism for social justice
Abstract: Contemporary political insurrections are assuming a central narrative in the processes of dispute for the public space of appearance, in which precarious bodies marked by gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and territoriality have played a prominent role in these events. This means that plural political movements have produced new strategies, in which non-hegemonic subjects come to occupy a privileged position when questioning state practices, ways of life and the very conception of social justice. In this way, by aligning itself with these questions, the present research aims to investigate contemporary transnational political uprisings – from plural epistemologies, such as feminist studies, queer theories, critical theory of race and decolonial thought – and to understand in which terms demands for social justice are being vindicated by current expressions of political activism. In order to do so, it seeks to examine, through the analysis of contemporary political uprisings – such as Chile, Ecuador, Guatamela – in what way recent political insurrections, promoted by feminisms, ethnic, anti-racist and anti-capitalist struggles, can serve as an impetus for a radical change in the interpretations of justice in terms of guarantee and effectiveness of transnational human rights.
Keywords: political insurrections, uprisings, Latin America, social justice, feminism
Ishika Seal
(Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex)
Situating Shaheen Bagh within the realm of a ‘new social movement’
Abstract: The Indian Government with the Bharatiya Janta Party at its behest passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on the 15th of December 2019. In the words of the Union Home Minister who popularly explained the chronology of events, the passing of the CAA, was designed to be followed by the National Registrar of Citizens (NRC). All except Muslims, would now be eligible for refugee status and eventually given citizenship. This meant that the burden of proof of identity was now almost exclusively the burden of the Indian Muslim as they were at the behest of statelessness, with the prospect of a bleak future in detention centers (Mander, 2021), a terrifying proposition for millions of Muslims in the country, thus emerges the metaphor of the Indian citizenship movement, Shaheen Bagh.

This essay draws on the lexicon of social movement theory, and investigates the idea of Shaheen Bagh and its validity as a social movement, situating its positionality within the realm of the ‘new social movement’. Tracing a timeline of events through a framework from emergence, coalesce, bureaucratization, to a multiplicity of outcomes of success, failure, going mainstream, and the eventual decline (Adapted from Blumer (1975), Maus ( 1969), Tilly (1978)). It argues that while this categorization can be easily adapted to understand the methodological organization against the indignation, oppression, rage and love at Shaheen Bagh which became a metaphor as for organized purposeful social movement for the rights of dispossessed Muslim bodies, it does not account for the potentialities of its re-emergence (Ahmad, 2016).

Keywords: Shaheen Bagh, Muslim women, protest, social movements
Marco Perolini
Human rights beyond reformism/non-reformism: how grassroots organisations craft emancipatory human rights to contest border regimes
Abstract: Human rights are often viewed as falling short from addressing entrenched forms of oppression, including the racializing impact of border regimes, because they are intertwined with conservative and repression institutions, such as the law and the state.

However, social movement organisations contesting border regimes in Berlin often make use of the language of human rights in their everyday mobilisation. These organisations include not only moderate organisations, such as human rights organisations, but also radical social movement organisations, including those led by migrants themselves (Perolini, forthcoming). These organisations make a crucial contribution in emphasising how racism, colonialism and border regimes are intertwined and in opposing legal hierarchies that states use to deny rights (Perolini, 2021, 2022). Radical social movement organisations contest legal hierarchies and the power of the state, and of supranational institutions, such as the European Union, to exercise their sovereignty by controlling their borders and managing migration.

In this paper, I propose a nuanced understanding of human rights by analysing how social movements craft novel notions of human rights outside legal hegemonies, by opposing limited legal notions of human rights. In the process of constructing emancipatory, non-legal notions of human rights, however, migrant grassroots organisations do not reject the use of legal notions of human rights that can be tactically useful in their struggle.

In contrast with existing empirical research focusing on emancipatory notions of human rights constructed by subaltern groups autonomously from the state, I argue that grassroots migrant organisations adopt a multi-scalar approach to human rights which considers different temporal perspectives and exceed binary reformist/non-reformist agendas.

Keywords: border regimes, human rights, social movements, emancipation
Meghan Tinsley
(University of Manchester)
Toppling Statues, Remembering Empire: Cultural Activism and Decolonial Social Movements
Abstract: European colonialism is an epistemic project, in which collective memory plays a crucial role. Memory creates linear histories and consolidates cohesive identities, whilst erasing difficult or marginalised histories and creating historical Others (Nora 1992[1984], Olick 2007, Ward 2015). Memory, however, is also never singular: the dominant narrative of the past constantly interacts with, and is contested by, grassroots counter-narratives (Nicolaïdis et al 2015, Stoler 2013). As such, decolonial social movements in post-imperial nations may enact remembrance as decolonisation. Drawing from decolonial and postcolonial theory, queer theory, and the sociology of memory, I argue that this process plays out in three ways. First, it entails rejecting official narratives of the past as false or incomplete (Rhodes Must Fall, Oxford 2018). Second, it involves an expansion of the category of grievable lives (Butler 2016) and a melancholic reiteration of the unsettled past (Muñoz 2006, Tinsley 2021a). Third, it writes new narratives and invents new traditions, replacing monumental history with a pluriverse of fragmented memories (Mignolo 2018). This paper engages with three movements of remembrance as decolonisation: the non-participation of many British Muslims in the official rituals of Remembrance Day; the decapitated, bloodied, and eventually toppled statue of Joséphine de Beauharnais in Fort-de-France, Martinique; and the planned Barbados Heritage District, a memorial site and museum of slavery. I conclude by reflecting on the implications of remembrance for larger political and cultural processes of decolonisation.
Keywords: memory, decolonisation, empire, statues
Michael Loadenthal
(University of Cincinnati/Princeton University)
The Thin Black (and blue) Line: Exploring the permeability of antifascist-police intelligence efforts
Abstract: Since the 2017 deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, there has been a notable growth in self-empowered, vigilante, civilian sleuths working online to identify, and expose members of the far-right—to publicize their names, in the hopes that online racisms equate to offline consequences. These initiatives received another boost following the January 6, 2021, attack of the US Capitol. This siege by elements of the far-right, and the resulting crowd-sourced policing efforts popularized by projects such as Sedition Hunters raised the profile of similar projects. For their part, Hunters’ intelligence products have been used in 70+ prosecutions, exhibiting the clear marriage between the civilian and judicial sectors. The growth of such counter-rightist intelligence efforts has not come without challenging ethical and political questions. For one, as many counter-rightist researchers seek to operate outside the bounds of law enforcement, what do unintentional collaborative efforts between anti-carceral, abolitionist leftists and intelligence officers, police, and prosecutors look like? Secondly, with a growing litany of examples showing federal prosecutors openly utilizing leftist discoveries as lynchpins within their evidentiary and prosecutorial records, where does the line exist between working in parallel with, and outright cooperation and collaboration between leftist researchers and the State? Finally, in light of the US’s professed 2018-present cyber strategy known as Persistent Engagement, how can this framework be used to critically examine and interrogate these blurred borders and amorphous boundaries? The proactive, ‘defend forward’ approach advocated by the Persistent Engagement doctrine shares striking resemblance to the embodied strategies of today’s digital deplatformers, and it is through this doctrinal frame that their techniques, tactics, and procedures can be examined. In the end, this inquiry seeks to pose critical, uncomfortable, and challenging questions to researchers seeking to disrupt the far-right, and to ask, are deplatforming efforts outside the State even possible?
Keywords: anti-fascism, far-right, OSINT, de-platforming, ethics, dual-use technology