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).
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Monday 13th June
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
This roundtable brings together scholar activists and arts activism practitioners to discuss the role of arts activism in the current conjuncture marked by the convergence of economic, social, political and ecological crises.
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.
Tuesday 14th June
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday 15th June
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This plenary session will bring together leading scholars and activists to consider the relationship between researching social movements, studying ‘race’/racisms and practicing anti-racism in and beyond the academy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.