Alternative Futures and Popular Protest

About AFPP

image of various editions of pamphlets titled Alternative Futures & Popular Protest

Since 1995, this international and interdisciplinary conference has taken place annually in Manchester. It has maintained focus on social and political movements, protest, and the building of alternative forms of social life for a different future. Discussions are rooted in theories of social movements, revolutions and utopias. Empirical studies have spanned space and time, educating participants about struggles and visions for a better world taking place across the globe. And research has been presented on the basis of the full range of methods of study. Debates covering all these themes have always taken place in an open manner that encourages participation from those at the earliest stages of their intellectual journeys, to the most established academics and activists, and those at all stages in between.

From 1995 to 2018 this hugely successful series of international conferences was organised by Colin Barker and Mike Tyldesley at Manchester Metropolitan University. Hundreds of scholars and activists from over sixty countries came through AFPP over the years, and all will remember Colin and Mike’s warm welcome. The conference has always been notable for a spirit of collegial and comradely participation, undoubtedly fed by the intellectual curiosity and generosity of its two founders. Highly established scholars participate on an equal footing to PhD students and early career researchers, and ongoing conversations develop across conference sessions, coffee breaks, dinners and sometimes long into the evening.

In 2018, Colin and Mike – by then both retired – approached colleagues attached to the research group movements@manchester to discuss the future of AFPP. We were pleased to take on the responsibility of carrying this tradition forwards. Sadly, Colin passed away in February 2019. The 2019 edition of AFPP was dedicated to Colin’s memory, with some of his intellectual and political achievements discussed across two conference sessions in the presence of some of his family, friends and comrades. Despite missing Colin’s presence greatly, the conference was a success. Colleagues and friends, old and new, heard over eighty papers over three days, discussing movements from every continent, and occurring across the last two hundred years. Concomitant breadth in conceptual focus was evident in themes covering art, economies, discourse, emotions, space, time and much else besides.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, AFPP became a fully online conference in 2021 and 2022. It was, of course, impossible to recreate the atmosphere of past editions of the conference, and it was sad not to enjoy the informal meetings with old and new friends. However, the ability to participate, without fees, from anywhere in the world made for remarkably international gatherings, which covered just about every timezone on the globe. The conference returned to its original in-person format, with a highly successful conference in Mancheser in June 2023. It was particularly satisfying to meet old friends and make new ones after the pandemic-induced limitations of the online conferences. We look forward to meeting again at future editions of the conference.

We always welcome feedback from AFPP participants, please feel free to get in touch via

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