Alternative Futures and Popular Protest

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Please see the final version of the programme below; click titles to see abstracts and keywords.

Additional programme information:

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

Jump to: Tuesday morning; Tuesday afternoon; Wednesday morning.

Monday 17th June

13:00 – 13:30 Conference Registration

Please come and find the registration desk in the Humanities Bridgeford Street foyer. HBS is just off Oxford Road on the University of Manchester campus

13:30 – 15:00 Session 1

Panel 1A

Location: G6; Chair: Özlem Çelik

Aylwyn Walsh: Arts & Abolitionist Futures: Freedom is a Place

Abstract: The growing abolitionist movements in the UK are concerned with organising to dismantle policing, prisons and the criminal punishment system. Various Copwatch organisations (such as Northern Police Monitoring Project), as well as Kids of Colour and Healing Justice LDN, have all attended to the violence of racial capitalism and its impacts that disproportionately criminalise, punish and contain people of colour. Central to their efforts is a twofold praxis: a pedagogy of resistance to carceral logics and building alternatives. The paper works with Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s imperative to ‘change everything’ as well as her assertion that ‘freedom is a place’ (2022: 474) as it draws together abolition geography with arts activism. The drive in abolition is creative and imaginative – not merely resistant. Abolitionist Futures emerged as a coalitional collective with an imperative to build capacity and organise from a shared knowledge base of social justice and the harms of prisons and incarceration. The year-long project arts & abolitionist futures engages with collective, creative, imaginative work with Abolitionist Futures – a grassroots collective engaged in political education to build capacity for futures less reliant on criminal punishment. The project brought Abolitionist Futures’ organising collective together with artists and activists in Leeds and beyond, centred around those with lived experience of the impacts of prison (on individuals, families and communities). A central resource was the archive of The Abolitionist – an early 1980s journal by the ‘Radical Alternative to Prison group’. We worked through arts processes to explore some of the issues in the publication The Abolitionist. The paper offers analysis of the project of building movements towards abolitionist futures by exploring the arts activist approach and participatory arts outcomes in ‘arts & abolitionist futures’.

Keywords: Abolition, arts activism, imagination, archives, participatory arts

Aylwyn Walsh (University of Leeds)

Daniela Fazio Vargas: Protests as Aesthetic Events: Examining the Role of Music in the 2019 Chilean Uprising

Abstract: Taking inspiration from the idea that protests are “eventful” and, therefore, capable of producing cognitive, relational, and emotional impacts on their participants, my research seeks to comprehend how music helped sustain political transformation through aesthetic events, taking as a case study the 2019 Chilean Uprising. One might ask, then, why look for the emergence of these artistic-laden transformative experiences in a place that would seem, at first glance, adverse for them, like the protests –specifically, if one has in mind that, notwithstanding the multiple theoretical traditions, aesthetic experiences have usually been associated with a locus of beauty and pleasure. Although I am focusing on music, the notion of aesthetics used in my research is not limited to the theories of beauty or pleasure. Conversely, it refers to the form in which subjects experience their reality but also to the polemical distribution of the sensible that defines the perceivable and thinkable. Drawing upon 45 interviews with demonstrators participating in the social uprising, my research attempts to show how aesthetic events can disrupt the “politics of aesthetics”, altering the regime of thinking about arts, but so too, the “aesthetics of politics”, that is, the implicit organisation that governs the sensible order. Thus, these are events that challenge our perception by enabling the emergence of ‘impossible artists’ that, through acts of dissensus, enact the universal of politics according to which, despite the differences, ‘we are all equal’, by questioning dominant modes of hearing, but also by realising projected political futures while musicking.

Keywords: Aesthetic Experience, Dissensus, Regime of Thinking, Sensible Order, Politics, Eventful Protests

Daniela Fazio Vargas (University of Manchester)

Adélie Chevée: Cultural Biography as Method: Revolutionary Newspapers and Prison Drawings from Syria

Abstract: After the 2011 Uprising, hundreds of Syrians became interested in creating their own newspaper. By 2021, the country that once counted only a dozen regime newspapers had produced no fewer than three hundred local periodicals. Why did Syrians go to such great lengths to print newspapers despite the existence of online news and the material difficulties of printing periodicals in wartime? This paper addresses this empirical puzzle by delving into a unique archive of 304 print magazines and newspapers published between 2011 and 2021. It argues that producing a newspaper over other forms of media had a particular symbolic significance under authoritarianism: newspapers as objects assisted in subjectivation, the process by which individuals became revolutionaries. The newspaper was the material object around which were centered revolutionary practices, such as writing, printing, distributing or hiding a newspaper. From this vantage point, newspapers are turned into objects of empirical inquiry for analyzing trajectories of mobilization, step by step from the creation of the paper to its diffusion and demise. The method adopted follows the trajectory of a social movement through the ‘cultural biography’ (Kopytoff 1986, see also Appadurai 1988) of the newspaper as a material object, acknowledging its agency as a non-human (Latour 2007). The newspaper’s life gives us a trail into the trajectory of the Syrian civil opposition, from the initial non-violent protests, to the professionalization of opposition institutions in rebel-held areas through the creation of editorial teams, to the repression and scattering of opposition activists in the region and beyond. In the conclusion, the broader theoretical purchase of cultural biography as method is explored by comparing newspapers with prison drawings. This material-biographical approach allows for understanding fundamental questions of collective action, especially motivation, social movement organization, and the sustainability of mobilization over time.

Keywords: materiality, cultural biography, methodology, newspapers, prison drawings, Syrian Uprising

Adélie Chevée (Aix-Marseille Université, European University Institute)

Panel 1B

Location: G7; Chair: Peter Cox

Daniel Platek: Protesting Parties in Poland, 2020

Abstract: Much ink has been spilt on conceptual and empirical analysis of the relationship between parties and social movements. McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly emphasized the need to understand this relationship as the interaction between two sorts of politics involving similar causal processes. The analysis of these relations has also become an important area of research in the contemporary sociology of social protests, but relatively little has been said about how parties participate in collective actions. Do they initiate protest events by occupying a central position in the main streams of events or merely join events that have already developed into a cycle of protest? In 2020, extraordinary political opportunities have arisen for the formation of broad protest coalitions in Poland. Most notably, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the government introducing regulations which provoked objections from many social groups. Political parties also took part in the protests in an effort to manifest their presence. However, their role in the protests is not clear and requires empirical analysis. One of the central hypotheses explored in this study is the degree to which the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the nature of political parties’ involvement in protests. The findings suggest that the pandemic had a significant, albeit varied, impact on the strategies of different political factions. While some parties appeared to leverage the pandemic to amplify their presence and influence in protests, others showed a more cautious approach, recalibrating their participation in response to the unfolding public health crisis. The primary unit of analysis employed in this study is the protest event, with daily newspapers serving as the data source for these events. Such events fall under “non-conventional” forms of political engagement and typically take place in the streets. I employ dynamic line-graphs to bipartite networks (Broccotelli, Evertt, Koskinen 2016) for incorporating time directly into the network. Bi-dynamic line-graph is an innovative way to visualize the evolution of actors’ participation in successive events. The main implication of this method is that all time steps corresponding to events, are, in fact, directly taken into account, and actions, linked together by the common participation of actors, are represented as a chain, in a sort of continuous social process. Employing this method, it is possible to recognize to what extent a political party’s participation precedes the occurrence of major protest events or, conversely, to what extent parties take advantage of protests that have already occurred to make their presence visible.

Keywords: Protest action, social networks, political parties

Daniel Platek (Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Science)

Michelle Carmody: Making Amnesty multicultural: diversity and organisational change in a white middle class movement, 1980s-1990s.

Abstract: In the 1980s and 1990s, Amnesty International’s USA section became increasingly concerned with cultural diversity – not as an object of their advocacy and activism, but as a part of their organisational identity. Since the 1970s Amnesty as a whole had been concerned with transforming itself from being what one member characterised as a ‘white, western organisation’ into a truly international one through recruiting members in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This desire for organisational development, which was connected to understandings of effectiveness, evolved into the US sections’ efforts to recruit African Americans, Latinos, and other minorities. This paper reconstructs this process from the perspective of AIUSA’s African American membership. Amnesty was a movement largely populated by white, middle class people engaged in advocacy largely on behalf of the black and brown people of the world. What was it like to be a black activist in this context? How did black and other minority members experience the organisation’s attempts to address structural racism and incorporate ideas around multiculturalism and diversity? Following institutional ethnography’s emphasis on seeing the subjects of a given organisational or institutional procedure as the experts on that organisation (Smith, 1994), this paper uses the standpoint of minority members of the movement to understand what made Amnesty a white, middle class organisation. In doing so it contributes to histories of multiracial coalition building, on collective identity in social movements, and to the history of human rights activism.

Keywords: diversity, race, identity, coalitions, organisations

Michelle Carmody (KU Leuven)

Nikolaos Manaras: Countering the Far-Right after Greece’s Thermidor: Social Movements and the Greek Left’s Tactics

Abstract: Externally imposed austerity and its adoption by mainstream parties from across the political spectrum in Greece in the 2000s and 2010s triggered several waves of social mobilization, focused on either socio-economic grievances, or identity and nationalist issues. After left-wing Syriza’s election in 2015, the bailout referendum and the subsequent capitulation of the party to the dictations of Troika, the cycle of mass and diverse social mobilization that started in 2008 gradually came to an end. Syriza’s “realist” shift had long-lasting consequences for emancipative ventures within and outside the central political scene. A discredited left, popular disappointment, and mass withdrawal from active political participation generated a ‘left-wing melancholia’ that opened space for a conservative turnaround. The institutional centre-right reclaimed its dominant status and the far-right gradually regrouped after the imprisonment of leaders of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn. New far-right formations entered the parliament, often presenting themselves as the only voices of dissent at times of unanimity in economic and foreign policy issues. Drawing from qualitative interviews with key figures in the Greek left -including activists, trade unionists and organizers- this research aims to identify the strategies they utilised to counter this reactionary wave, the social base they are targeting and the reasons behind the perceived failure of those actions. Initial findings seem to relate to broader trends in western left-wing politics including a) declining vote shares, b) loss of active members, c) rising violence against sympathisers and d) weakness to communicate their narrative. Given the initial rapid rise in support for Syriza in the aftermath of mass protests, the party’s voluntary moderation in the face of structural constraints, and subsequent creeping growth in support for a range of far-right parties, Greece remains a key case for examining the causes of, and inadequate responses to, crises of democratic legitimacy in the age of neoliberal globalization.

Keywords: Mass Movements, Leftist Parties, Radicalization, De-mobilization, Responses

Nikolaos Manaras (Maynooth University)

Hamid Khalafallah: The Overlooked Struggles: Examining understudied social movements in Africa through the lens of Sudan

Abstract: The literature on African social movements is rather limited and often categorises movements in Africa as civil society. Most of the scholarship has been focused on movements associated with South Africa’s struggle against Apartheid. Nevertheless, popular movements in African society have played a central role in shaping Africa’s history and modern politics. The presence of such movements has spiked in specific periods, that often intertwined with the waves of democracy. While social movements in Africa are not principally different from those in other world regions, they inevitably adopt particular features as a result of the social and political context in which they operate. Particularly in terms of defying dichotomies and straddling the boundaries of tradition and modernity concepts, formal political institutions and informal civic networks, as well as ‘Western’ and local values. This paper will examine the Resistance Committees (RCs) of Sudan, a contemporary grassroots movement that exemplifies the qualities and characteristics of African social movements. The RCs emerged in Sudan during a nationwide popular uprising in 2019, as new political agents and became the most influential actors in Sudan’s political sphere. For the last four years, they have been playing a major role in mobilising citizens, organising non-violent resistance and reshaping the politics of the country. They have also become a new source of public authority, providing public services and goods at the neighbourhood level. After the outbreak of war in Sudan in 2024, the resistance committees established Emergency Response Rooms to provide social protection and humanitarian relief to citizens. While the conflict in Sudan rages on, the RCs continue to find ways to remain active and maintain their legitimacy. The RCs story provides valuable contributions in terms of theorising African social movements, as well as bridging the gap between movement studies and democratisation studies.

Keywords: Africa, movements, protests, democracy, Sudan

Hamid Khalafallah (University of Manchester, GDI)

Panel 1C

Location: G32; Chair: Chris Waugh

Laya Hooshyari: How Did the Revolutionary Leftists Fare in the Woman Life Freedom Movement?

Abstract: The inception of the Woman Life Freedom movement in September 2021, spurred by the tragic murder of Jina (Mahsa) Amini at the hands of the so-called morality police, marks a significant milestone in Iran’s social activism. This movement stands out as the most prolonged, militant, and impactful social uprising since the 1979 revolution. Within its dynamic landscape, three distinct opposition groups, each with a common goal of challenging the Islamic Republic of Iran, have emerged, each further comprising different subgroups. Firstly, the Monarchists advocate for the return of Iran’s last king’s son (Shah), dethroned during the 1979 Iranian revolution. They view the 1979 revolution as an illusion, questioning its authenticity. They believe people were deceived and adopted leftist and Islamist beliefs without sound reasoning. Secondly, the Liberals, comprising former Iranian reformists, are now dedicated to overthrowing the IRI system. Their focus centres on fostering a discourse grounded in humanitarian rights. Lastly, the Leftists vehemently oppose the IRI, any revival of monarchy, or foreign interference. They define themselves not only through their stances on Iranian issues but also through their endeavours to foster revolution and establish international solidarity with minority and disadvantaged communities. This presentation will delve into the Leftist section, illuminating their position within the Iranian context. Key issues to be explored include disorganization, fossilization, and the adoption of a seemingly religious perspective, all of which have contributed to diminishing the role of leftism during the movement. Understanding and proactively addressing these challenges are imperative for the Leftist section to regain prominence within the Woman Life Freedom movement. By fostering internal cohesion, adapting to contemporary dynamics, and elucidating their seemingly religious perspective, Leftist groups can potentially fortify their position within the broader opposition, contributing significantly to the ongoing revolution.

Keywords: Woman Life Freedom, Iran, Monarchists, revolution, Leftists

Laya Hooshyari (The University of Manchester)

Katia Valenzuela-Fuentes: The seeds of the October rebellion: Politics from below in Chile

Abstract: In October 2019, Chileans took over the streets in a scream for dignity that triggered the most widespread popular uprising since the return to democracy. The rebellion of October became the seedbed for hundreds of grassroots organisations that embraced horizontality, autonomy, popular education, and mutual aid as core principles of their practice. With the pandemic, the outcomes of the constitutional process and the current left-wing government in power, it is certain that social mobilisation in Chile has significantly decreased. Nonetheless, the seeds of October have sprouted in underground experiments of local democracy such as territorial assemblies, food coops, feminist collectives, community kitchens and networks of popular economies, among others. Interestingly, most of these organisations share the refusal of state-centred and top-down approaches to social change and seek to prefigure in the present the social world in which they want to live in. How do they organise in times of hopelessness? What are the political principles and strategies undertaken by these activists’ groups? Which type of politics they are envisioning and enacting? Drawing on an ethnographic approach combined with participatory-action research methods (Fals Borda and Anisur, 1991; Juris, 2008) and Latin-American and social movements’ critical scholarship (Zibechi, 2016; Holloway, 2016; Motta, 2017; Gutiérrez y Salazar, 2019, among others), this paper seeks to address these questions, by exploring the features of these grassroots projects, their challenges and their emancipatory potential.

Keywords: Chile, Latin american politics, October’s uprising, grassroots organising

Katia Valenzuela-Fuentes

Mihir Sharma & Agnieszka Pasieka: What makes an activist: reflections on a key political subjectivity of late capitalism

Abstract: Activism is a category and term which can be traced to the early twentieth century, but has since acquired a set of connotations and has become imbued with normative understandings. These understandings tend to relate to social actors – their subjectivities, moral and political outlooks, relations they are part of and enter in. Consequently, they tend to establish what kind of actors “deserve” to be called or “count” as activists. Furthermore, due to the connection between activism and social movements, the normative understandings of activism simultaneously impinge on our approach to social movements. In proposing a reflection on these issues, our paper has two main goals. First, we interrogate the different understandings of the term “activism” and “activist.” Using ethnographic case-studies and historical data, we wish to contribute to the theoretical discussion on these terms. In asking what it might mean to become, be, or remain an activist, we focus on four interrelated issues: 1) underrepresented genealogies of activists and activism 2) criteria for becoming /being /remaining /being recognized as activists? (what criteria, whose criteria) 3) “career” of activists and activism as work in relation to wage-labor 4) questions of success/failure written into activism Our second goal is to reflect on the relationship between specific understandings of activism and of social movements. Even as the figure of the activist has become an almost inevitable one in social movement studies, we are also interested in the ways in which it exceeds, defines, and is defined by social movement dynamics. In so doing, we wish to examine both the figure of the activist and the debates in social movement studies about activism, and consider the implications of these reflections for both research and broader debates.

Keywords: activism, subjectivity, social movement theory, genealogies, normativity

Mihir Sharma & Agnieszka Pasieka (University of Bayreuth)

15:00 – 15:15 Comfort Break

15:15 – 17:00      Plenary

Location: Cordingly Lecture Theatre, HBS; Chair: Luke Yates

Strategy, social movement outcomes, and the ‘mass protest decade’

Book Cover: If We Burn, by Vincent BevinsWith Vincent Bevins, Birgan Gokmenoglu, Kate Alexander, Simin Fadaee, chaired by Luke Yates.

Vincent Bevins, journalist and author of The Jakarta Method (an account of US government support for anti-communist mass killings from the Cold War onwards) and If We Burn: The Mass Protest Decade and the Missing Revolution joins us in a discussion of the relationships between social movement consequences, especially in the wake of the last major protest wave of the 21st century. Vincent will introduce the themes of his most recent book, which asks why many of the 2010-2020 protest movements, some of the biggest in history, seemed to lead to the opposite of what they asked for. Following this provocation, a panel of invited movement scholars: Birgan Gokmenoglu, Kate Alexander, and Simin Fadaee, will reflect on the wider question of what we know about movement consequences and strategy, and will lead into an open discussion about what’s next for activists and critical scholars.

Tuesday 18th June

09:00 – 10:30 Session 3

Panel 3A

Location: G6; Chair: Nerea Montejo López

Chris Waugh: Exploring Affective Dynamics and Gendered Practices in Left-Wing Movement Cultures: A Case Study of Momentum

Abstract: This paper delves into the complex interplay of affective dynamics and gendered practices within left-wing movement cultures through a detailed examination of Momentum, a contemporary socialist grassroots organization. Drawing from empirical data and theoretical insights from my PhD fieldwork with Momentum, the study illuminates the ways in which affective experiences shape and influence gendered behaviours and interactions in this unique political context. The paper highlights the tension between the organization’s inclusive ethos and the persistence of exclusionary practices, shedding light on the nuanced complexities of identity, gender, and power within leftist activism.

Keywords: Affect, masculinity, Momentum, social movement culture, gender, micropolitics

Chris Waugh (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Alexandre Nogueira Martins: Social Reproduction and Negativity in Social Movements: Reflections from Queer and Trans Politics in Argentina and Colombia

Abstract: Queer and trans social movements have long been regarded in social research as culture- or identity-based activism. Nonetheless, not only do capitalism and class relations play a central role in the social conditions of those movements (Hetland and Goodwin, 2013), but the understanding of their politics may go far beyond the focus on identity (Haider, 2018; Ferguson, 2018) for a deeper understanding of class, gender, sexuality and race relations. In a dialogue with Marxist analysis of social movements against neoliberalism (Cox, 2016; Baker, 2021), especially queer and transgender Marxism (Drucker, 2015; Lewis, 2016; Gleeson, Rourke, 2021), the paper aims to reflect on the practices of radical queer and trans social movements in Argentina and Colombia and their implications to future social change. Departing from social reproduction theory (Bhattacharya, 2017), it first focuses on how some reproductive practices in those social movements are central to the material possibilities of queer and trans social reproduction (Raha, 2021). The paper proposes then that such practices could be analyzed as a basis for radical political activism and a necessary condition for the production of alternative futurities. Secondly, Argentinian and Colombian queer and trans radical strategies are investigated as forms of negativity and critical affirmations in contemporary class struggles (Holloway, 2008; Dinerstein, 2015). The paper discusses then to what extent the campaign for jobs, housing, and healthcare for trans populations and the queer articulations for reparation politics in Argentina and Colombia may be understood as negative politics enacting alternative futures. From the lenses of social reproduction and negativity in political action, this paper aims to contribute to a Marxist analysis of queer and trans movements that goes against and beyond reductionist divisions of class-based versus identity-based social movements and that may be more attentive to the futures in dispute in queer and trans mobilizations.

Keywords: queer, capitalism, Marxism, trans, social reproduction, future

Alexandre Nogueira Martins (Freie Universität Berlin)

Kyoko Tominaga & Ouyang Shanshan: Burnout, vulnerability and care in social movements: The case for researching sexual minority and disabled activists in Japan

Abstract: Social movements not only impact politics and the public but also psychologically affect individuals. Participation in political activism can bring about a sense of achievement and cognitive liberation in individual participants due to the profound impact of such activities (McAdam 1982); However, activists are also at risk of experiencing negative emotion and burnout. (K. Rodgers 2010; Chen et al. 2015; Reed 2022). This study examines activist burnout through a case study involving activists with disabilities or belonging to sexual minorities. We assume that they are vulnerable because they face frustrating situations and isolate themselves due to having their rights violated not only in their daily lives but in the social movements they engage in. Therefore, we conducted interviews with LGBTQ and disabled activists based in Japan. Previous studies have suggested that activists experience burnout due to the gap between idealised forms of participation and their endless contributions to the ideal standard of political activism. Our article agreed with these findings but found that minority activists sometimes needed extra commitment from other activists. As such activists are few in number, they are likelier to be treated by the media and the public as ‘stars’ and ‘representatives of minorities’. As a result, they have fewer people with whom they can share their negative feelings and thus face a high risk of burnout. To prevent these situations, some activists have initiated intimate relationships with disabled and sexual minority activists by engaging in the mutual sharing of daily stresses and experiences of discrimination among minority participants, caring about their mental health issues and cooperating to prevent activists from isolating. In conclusion, our findings not only contribute to the study of activist burnout but also emphasise the importance of the mental well-being of participants in social movements.

Keywords: Burn-out, care, disability, sexual minority, activist identity

Kyoko Tominaga & Ouyang Shanshan (Ritsumeikan University)

Panel 3B

Location: G7; Chair: Camilo Tamayo Gomez

Kazuhiro Terashita: Inheriting Negative History: Feminist Movements and the Transformation of Red-light Districts in South Korea

Abstract: This study examines the role of the feminist movement in transforming South Korea’s red-light districts(RLDs). Specifically, this study identifies how feminist activism engaged with and built consensus among other stakeholders in town revitalization efforts, aiming to close the RLDs and address the history of sex work and women’s exploitation. A comprehensive examination of red-light district transformation has been conducted, considering the multifaceted changes within the community. In contrast, while many studies have emphasized urban space, collective memory, and community conflicts, the specific role of the feminist movement in RLD transformation remains less explored. The case of Jeonju City in South Korea, presents a unique instance of feminist commitment to RLD transformation. In Korea, RLDs dating back to the colonial period have been closed during redevelopment as land prices increased. Additionally, feminists have held varied positions on the sex industry and have seldom been involved in city planning, focusing instead on support activities. In Jeonju, however, feminists not only actively advocated for closing the RLD but also participated in subsequent city planning. Consequently, public facilities were established to commemorate the RLD’s history, originally a ‘negative legacy,’ leveraging culture and art for city development. Why was this urban development, potentially detrimental to local residents realized? This study addresses the question by analyzing responses from feminists, local communities, policymakers, and the general public. The analysis shows that the relationship between feminists and other movement organizations at each phase signaled policymakers, with this interaction defining the change. The findings indicate that this case study is crucial for understanding the feminist movement’s potential to foster more inclusive and equitable urban spaces through RLD shutdown and transformation. Moreover, this study enriches the debate on feminism, urban transformation, and social change, offering insights into feminist activism’s effective strategies and outcomes in tackling gender-based exploitation and inequality in Korea.

Keywords: Feminist Movement, Red-Light District, Urban Revitalization, Advocacy, South Korea

Kazuhiro Terashita (Kyoto University)

Yushuang Yang: ‘Who is the Real Feminist?’ Online Feminists’ Identities and Emotions in Contemporary China

Abstract: ‘The realness of a feminist’ is one of the most debated topics of Chinese online feminism. Accompanied by the fragmentation of online communities on social media, the contemporary Chinese feminist movement is composed of various strands with different social-political significance. Previous research has shown that the Chinese online public sphere often mistakes one strand of feminism for another, deepening the misunderstanding and stigma of feminism. However, the distorted images of different strands of feminism also influence how feminists identify themselves and how they feel towards other fellow feminists, sometimes disrupting the possibility of a wider movement solidarity. This research provides a preliminary investigation of this inquiry. First, I demonstrate the new social-political environment that has given rise to the flourishing of online feminist opinions and map the current feminist strands on Chinese social media. Second, I present the key findings from interviews of ten self-claimed feminists, focusing on their identities and emotions shown in (1) their narratives about how they have become a feminist, (2) their understandings of ‘being a feminist’ in life and activism, and (3) their impressions of and/or interactions with other online feminist strands. This research suggests a feminist epistemological method in which Chinese feminists could approach a wider movement solidarity and contributes to the ongoing conversation of identity and emotion in social movement studies.

Keywords: Chinese feminisms, activist identity, narrative, emotion, solidarity

Yushuang Yang (Ritsumeikan University, Japan)

Bhavani Kunjulakshmi (dead name: Soja Subhagar): How Bahujan feminist movements in Kerala draw on Black feminisms

Abstract: Bahujans (Dalits, Adivasis, Avarnas and other excluded castes and tribes) in Kerala were treated as ‘untouchables’ and prohibited from entering schools for several centuries. They were also taxed for their breasts and prohibited from covering them. Demanding the right to cover their breasts, subaltern women organized Channar Revolt in the early 19th century. This was India’s first feminist movement. The breast tax was abolished after Nangeli, a Bahujan woman, cut off her breasts in protest and bled to death. The anti-caste, decolonial feminist movements were eventually subsumed into nominally left-wing projects led by British-educated upper-caste men in Kerala (Manoharan, 2021). These movements have been downplayed by upper-caste/orientalist historians over time. There is a long history of caste movements, feminist movements and queer movements in Kerala drawing on Black American feminisms and anti-racist politics in the global North. This paper comments on the existing discussions on parallels between Bahujan feminist thinking and Black feminist thinking, savarna feminism and white feminism, internalized casteism and internalized racism, how this is critiqued as an undermining of differences between the historical contexts of Black American communities and South Asian Dalit Bahujan communities, why Bahujan feminists use the work of Black feminist writers, how this has nurtured Bahujan feminist movements and how it is adapted to fit the socio-cultural context of Bahujan feminists in Kerala. The focus would be on the ways in which people in Kerala Bahujan feminist movements engage with Black feminist theories.

Keywords: Black feminisms, Bahujan feminist movements, anti-caste movements, Dalit feminisms

Bhavani Kunjulakshmi (dead name: Soja Subhagar) (Maynooth University)

Panel 3C

Location: G32; Chair: Dániel Mikecz

Willemijn Born: Batka’s beatdown: the repression of Belarusian pro-democracy movement

Abstract: After the contested presidential in August 2020, Belarusians took to the streets en masse. Although Belarus has a long history of resistance, the size of the 2020 protests was unprecedented, with some sources estimating the participation of 350.000 Belarussians. By December 2020, over 27.000 protesters had been arrested, with regular reports of torture in detention, and others had been forced in exile. The Lukashenko regime was able to effectively repress the nonviolent resistance movement. Based on a multilevel framework on nonviolent resistance, we seek to explain why nonviolent resistance has not been able to succeed in Belarus. Through a series of interviews with experts and Belarussian nonviolent resisters, it is argued that the Russian-backed repression, alongside pre-existing societal cleavages and elite support for the regime, contributed in limiting the potential of the nonviolent resistance movement and to guaranteeing the continuing rule of Lukashenko. The recent context of the war in Ukraine has furthermore increased the presence of Russia within Belarus, moving the country further away from Western democracies and towards Russian authoritarianism.

Keywords: Nonviolent resistance, Belarus, repression, protest

Willemijn Born (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Daniela Cocco Beltrame, Diana Mitlin, Teurai Nyamangara, Smith Ouma: Transforming Academic Research for Epistemic Justice: Lessons from the African Cities Research Consortium


This paper critically examines the evolving relationship between academia and marginalized communities in collaborative research processes through the lens of the African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC) experience. Over two years of engagement, it analyzes the growing recognition of the value and legitimacy of more equitable research processes, while also highlighting the persistent challenges in transforming power relations within research teams. Hegemonic knowledge production centered in the global North-West has historically marginalized alternative knowledge systems and ways of knowing. Despite formal commitments to community-engaged research and the inclusion of community leaders in research discussions, their meaningful involvement often remains peripheral. Through a reflexive analysis of the challenges faced and overcome within ACRC, this paper aims to elucidate new pathways for amplifying collective action towards social and epistemic justice. It argues for a fundamental rethinking of academic research practices to enable the voices and knowledge systems of disadvantaged and marginalized groups to become active participants in a new form of scholarship. To this end, the paper proposes a series of guiding principles and practical strategies to further the recognition, legitimacy, and integration of community knowledge in research collaborations with academic and other partners. By centering the lived experiences and embodied knowledge of marginalized communities, it seeks to contribute to the decolonization of knowledge production and the advancement of more equitable and transformative research practices.

Keywords: urban social movements, collective action, epistemic justice, collaborative research

Daniela Cocco Beltrame, Diana Mitlin, Teurai Nyamangara, Smith Ouma (University of Manchester)

Sherman Tai: Bringing the Masses Back In: Dynamics of Radicalization in the 2019 Hong Kong Protests

Abstract: The masses have disappeared from studies of radicalization. Both terrorism and social movement studies have come to abandon their traditional concerns on broader historical processes that lead to extremism and focus on individual ‘radicalizable’ persons. This rendered the masses, defined as moderates in a movement who did not exert political violence, irrelevant in tactical radicalization. This paper shows that the masses are critical for the emergence of a radical movement out of a reformist political environment. It does so by exploring a ‘least likely’ case: the surprising explosion of violent tactics in the 2019 Hong Kong Protests, despite the civil society’s decades-long commitment to ‘peaceful, rational and nonviolent’ activism. Existing theoretical models, namely the classical, rational and antagonistic, fell short in explaining the puzzle of tactical radicalization in Hong Kong because they all placed the masses in a secondary position. Drawing from Eliasian figurational sociology, this paper builds a synergistic model that emphasizes how myriad interactions between different groups, or ‘fronts’, within the masses can conduce radicalization, in addition to provoking it as the dominant, antagonistic model suggests. Using 14 in-depth interviews with militants, moderates and organizational activists, participants observations and textual analysis of two ethnographic documentaries, I argue that the masses and their nonviolent actions were pivotal in enabling militants to exert political violence consistently by (i) stimulating an intensifying cycle of protest, (ii) supporting violent tactics logistically, and (iii) justifying political violence internally and externally. In short, without the masses, there can be no militants or radical movements. This study makes fresh contributions to political sociology by (i) reconceptualizing radicalization as a process undertaken by the masses; (ii) supplementing the extant literature’s lack of interviews of militants in social movements under authoritarian regimes and (iii) linking the fields of figurational sociology, policing studies and social movement studies.

Keywords: Social movement, riot, tactical radicalization, public order policing, figurational sociology, Hong Kong

Sherman Tai

10:30 – 10:45 Comfort Break

10:45 – 12:15 Session 4

Panel 4A

Location: G6; Chair: Sherman Tai

Paul Routledge & Aylwyn Walsh: Ambivalent Activism: ‘Stuckedness’ in social movements

Abstract: This paper examines ambivalence in activism, in particular the sense of being ‘stuck’ – riven with a sense of struggle, loss of momentum and doubt in collaborative work. The paper considers how this condition can be understood in relation to scholar-activism, as distinctive from the organising/ mobilising itself. A methodological commitment to ambivalence or stuckedness helps to set up the multiple directions and complexity of desires, hopes, disappointments and failures that permeate scholar-activism. Drawing from ground scholar activist praxis, the paper produces a three-part model identifying registers of an ambivalent scholar-activism: ‘dissonant intimacies’ (Roy, 2023), ‘radical vulnerability’ (Nagar, 2019) and ‘language in common’ (Lyons and Jones, 2020). These three registers are mutually constitutive, forging the conditions for stuckedness and also enabling a mode of reflexivity that can engender new directions for social movements, and, indeed, for the scholar-activist.

Keywords: Scholar activism; ambivalence; stuckedness; social movements

Paul Routledge & Aylwyn Walsh (University of Leeds )

Leon Moosavi: Decolonisation is Not Working so Should the University be Abolished?

Abstract: There’s now been a decade of discussion about decolonising the university. Some progress has been made within campuses and the atmosphere of Higher Education may indeed be shifting in positive ways. For example, there may be slightly less ethnocentrism and some degree of more awareness about racism than there once was, even if a lot of this remains tokenistic and superficial. Yet, at the same time, coloniality’s influence defiantly persists within universities. This occurs in a multitude of ways and has major consequences for staff, students, and communities. It appears as though those of us who called for the decolonisation of universities may have under-estimated how entrenched coloniality is within academia. In light of this, one perspective may suggest that we must continue to decolonise, enhance our strategies, and strive to unsettle the remnants of the colonial legacy. However, the rare voices which are brave enough to say that maybe it’s time to abandon the university are occasionally heard too. This perspective may be based on a belief that the university cannot be rescued. Rather, this view may suggest that it’s time to defund, abandon and even abolish the university. This paper will examine this issue further, by asking the following questions: What would be gained by abolishing the university? What would be lost by abolishing the university? Is it even possible to abolish the university? This paper will call for decolonial scholars and activists to devote more time to these radical questions even if they believe that the university can be revived. Otherwise, we may stagnate in decolonial echo chambers which have very little impact on the material realities within Higher Education spaces.

Keywords: Coloniality, Decolonisation, Universities, Higher Education, Abolition, Defunding

Leon Moosavi (University of Liverpool)

Birgan Gokmenoglu: Beyond “Impact” in Social Movement Studies

Abstract: This paper poses the question of what “engagement” or “impact” in social movement research looks like in the absence of stable, established, (in)formal organizations in volatile political contexts. First, it stems from a critique of the impact agenda in the current neoliberal framework of contemporary higher education, where “impact” is synonymous with policy-related influence. These incentives, although couched in a narrative of positive change, have a myopic view of social change that often does not align with the visions and demands of activists. Furthermore, for scholars of social movements, this narrow conceptualisation of impact is neither applicable nor desirable: demands for social justice usually do not translate into neat policy recommendations, and contemporary movements rarely demand such policy reforms. Second, the paper is based on a political activist ethnography of with anti-authoritarian activists in Istanbul, Turkey between 2016 and 2018. It engages both with the tension that social movement studies as a field of research has with policy-oriented understandings of impact, and also with the more engaged and participatory methods that social movement scholars employ, ranging from participatory action research to engaged scholarship. Reflecting on my ethnographic practice in Istanbul, I will discuss how the dissolution of formal and/or informal movement organisations affected the ways in which I “engaged” with activists during and after fieldwork. My aim is to expand dominant understandings of engagement and to re-emphasise the role of academia for amplifying social critique, as well as the role of the researcher as a critical co-producer of activist knowledges.

Keywords: Impact, activist scholarship, engaged scholarship, Turkey, ethnography

Birgan Gokmenoglu (Birmingham City University)

Panel 4B

Location: G7; Chair: Michelle Carmody

Peter Cox: When is a movement not a movement? 150 years of bike activism

Abstract: July 2023 saw publication of my full-length study ‘Cycling activism: bike politics and social movements’ in the Mobilization series on social movements protest and culture. This paper introduces a key theme from the text, namely why it is that cycling activism and activists are a familiar topic for investigation, but one rarely hears talk of a broader “cycling movement” despite almost a hundred and fifty years of continuous forms of activism? Thinking about the conceptualization of movement studies both longitudinally and synchronously examples are used to show how cycling activists over the years have sought both to defend against unwanted changes and enacted visions of alternative futures to the ones proffered by modernist development models. While the breadth of activity undertaken and different stresses and tactics deployed may seem to militate against considering bike activism as a coherent whole, the paper shows how apparently contradictory elements are nevertheless linked in participant political imaginaries. One almost constant subject of the various forms of activisms that range from visible confrontational protest to everyday resistance been the stress on relationality and vulnerability, themes that become even more relevant in the context of anthropocene futures.

Keywords: Cycling activism, movement theory, diversity, everyday resistance

Peter Cox (University of Chester )

Tahmin Fatma Barkati: Protests and Urban Restructuring in the City of Kolkata: A study

Abstract: Currently, cities across the globe have experienced an urban renaissance, which has been shaped by globalization, privatization, and neo-liberal policies. These changes have transformed the characteristics and virtues of both the city and its population. They have not only altered the definition of production and consumption but also the way a certain group of people reacts to denial. Kolkata, India, is one such city that is known for its street protests, occupy movements, rallying, and political graffiti, depicting everything from despicable slander to sharp repartee and, caricatures to propaganda; a strange amalgamation of moderation and extremism. Presently, Kolkata is undergoing a phase of ‘change’ (Poribortan), and with the changing structure of the political economy of the city, a ‘consumerist’ middle class has emerged who imbibed a modern lifestyle with cosmopolitan aspirations. Common open public spaces are disappearing giving way to gated communities and corporate endeavours. This shrinkage of the city space is the testimony of the dominance of a certain class and the restructuring of the urban space is driven by political power backed by the private endorsement of capitalist groups. This study looks into the spatiality of protest, and how the restructuring of the city space hinders and reflexively modifies the medium and characteristics of protest. Theoretically, this paper explores the classical Marxian concepts by examining the empirical relevance of the theories. Methodologically, a historical-comparative inquiry has been utilized to analyze class conflicts, production-consumption of space, and urban protests in the advanced capitalist, and postmodern phase that we are living in. It intends to magnify the social relations, changes in political scenario, economic transitions, the way the citizens protest for their rights and survival, and how the state utilizes catalysts like, “spatial restructuring” and beautification of the city as a passive tool of controlling the territoriality of urban protests.

Keywords: urban protest, spatial restructuring, middle class, control

Tahmin Fatma Barkati (Doctoral Research Scholar, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences)

Özlem Çelik: Urban Justice Movements 2.0: Urbanisation of Activism and Movements in Istanbul

Abstract: Global financial crisis of 2007/8 intensified and deepened enclaves of inequality and segregation in cities. Financialization has resulted in the increasing number of populations experiencing uneven development and has changed the meaning of housing and urban commons to exchange value instead of use value (Fainstein, 2016), which has led to resistance to urban development financialization (Fields, 2014; 2017; Schipper, 2015; Celik, forthcoming). As pressure mounted to discipline people’s lives in the cities, grassroots movements, housing activism, urban commoning practices, and city-wide movement alliances and coalitions emerged, even in areas that had not previously been mobilized. This paper attempts to conceptualize this process by discussing how cities have become incubators of social justice movements (Nicholls and Beaumont, 2004; Miller & Nicholls, 2013). As a result, I propose reinterpreting urban justice movements as “urban justice movements 2.0”, which offers a broader framework for a variety of movements that aim to combat the injustices arising from urban development. Based on this framework, I propose three analytical categories: urban justice movements as direct political demands, urban justice movements as urban commoning practices, and urban justice movements as momentary alliances. To support this claim, this paper presents findings from a two-decade period of urban activism and mobilisation in Istanbul since 2004 in which the city was a hotbed of a wide variety of urban movements. This study examines, in an admittedly exploratory fashion, how political-economic changes shape and affect urban movements’ demands, alliances, and networks, which ultimately led to an uprising in Istanbul from neighbourhood to nation scale.This study is based upon activist research (Martinez, 2023), in which my involvement with activist groups was regular and intermittent, as well as conducted various forms of qualitative research.

Keywords: Urban justice movements, financialisation, urban commons, housing activism, activist research

Özlem Çelik (University of Turku, Finland)

Sohrab Rezvani: Platforms for Cooperation: The Case of Cooperation Manchester

Abstract: Lack of effective coordination and cooperation between various social movements and organizations of struggle in Manchester, has caused a sense of frustration among many activists. Activists are searching for ways to get out of sectoral, isolating activism and create spaces that would link multiple fronts of struggle to each other. Inspired by other initiatives such as “Cooperation Jackson” and “Cooperation Hull”, which have similar kind of aims and objectives, some activists in Manchester have started to start a new initiative, called Cooperation Manchester, with the main objective of building the basic infrastructure of a platform that would facilitate cooperation between various movements and organizations of struggle on a municipal level. In this presentation, I will try to open up the concept of “cooperation platform”, its organizational forms and functions through examples from Cooperation Manchester and other similar initiatives.

Keywords: Cooperation; Platform; organizational form; municipal ecosocialism

Sohrab Rezvani (University of Manchester)

Panel 4C

Location: G32; Chair: Kyle R. Matthews

Kate Alexander & Lefa Lenka: Protests in Africa: Frequency, 2012-2023

Abstract: The paper presents an analysis of 98,216 protests that occurred in Africa between 2012 and 2023. The dataset derives from a critical re-coding of events listed by the Armed Conflict Location and Data (ACLED) project, which is funded by the US State Department and based at Sussex University. The analysis moves beyond that offered on the ACLED site by utilizing a strict definition of a protest as ‘a popular mobilisation in support of a collective grievance’, which avoids a subjective distinction between violent and non-violent events and paves the way to an account of actors and grievances. This is the largest dataset for Africa as a whole, and, because of ACLED’s history, no similar assessment is yet possible for other continents. The authors show that protests reached a peak in 2020 and that, notwithstanding the defeat of revolutions in Alegria and Sudan, the total number of protests in the next three years remained higher than for any year before 2020 (despite Covid). However, distribution was highly uneven, with very close to half of all the protests occurring in just five out 57 countries and territories. The evidence presented disproves histories of protests in Africa that propose a third wave peaking in 2011 or 2014, and it questions continent-wide generalization. It also recommends reconsideration of narratives proposing two previous waves (which are dated in various ways, but with one preceding independence, that is, prior to 1970 in most cases, and a second in the 1990s underpinned by the impact of neo-liberalism and movements for democracy). Further research, including analysis of actors and grievances, will be necessary before theorization of the pattern described in this paper is possible.

Keywords: Africa, protests, protest frequency, protest waves

Kate Alexander & Lefa Lenka (University of Johannesburg)

Geoffrey Pleyers: Beyond latency. Social movements after mass protests

Abstract: This article analyses the 2019 citizens’ uprising in Chile and its aftermath in light of some key features of the global wave of social movements and citizens’ uprisings in the 2010s. Based on interviews and a multi-site ethnography during the Chilean outbreak and a series of international mobilisations throughout the decade, it analyses nine shared features of mobilisations in different regions of the world that together contribute to a better understanding of the Chilean movement and its outcomes: scales and spaces of action; reticular and adhocratic forms of organising; claims formulated in terms of dignity, social justice, and democratisation; strong subjective dimensions; widespread expressive and artistic dimensions; spaces of encounters and experience; intersectional encounters and cross-fertilisation; the co-existence of a more pragmatic relationship to institutional politics and anti-parties stances.

Keywords: Chile; movements outcomes

Geoffrey Pleyers (FNRS, UCLouvain)

Camilo Tamayo Gomez & Kaan Ağartan: Reimagining Radical Democracy in the Global South: Emerging Paradigms from Colombia and Turkey

Abstract: Radical democracy, as theory and practice, informs contemporary social movements both as a critique of existing paradigms of liberal democratic social order and as an inspiration for collective action to mobilise against power structures. However, existing conceptualisations of radical democracy often reduce complex political questions to static formulations that constrain political imagination, perpetuating ideological divisions and stifling ‘truly radical’ alternative viewpoints. In this paper, we argue that there exists a mismatch between the radical democratic paradigm as it is formulated within Eurocentric purview, and the ways it has been received, articulated, and employed by anti-austerity and pro-democracy movements in non-European contexts. More specifically, by comparing new interpretive frameworks that have informed radical political activism in Turkey and Colombia in the past decades, this paper sheds light on the limits (as well as the potential) of radical democracy to conceptualise new expressions of citizenship and non-capitalist practices of commoning in contemporary social movements. By bringing together and synthesising two broad academic literatures (social movements in the Global South and radical democracy) this paper demonstrates that existing conceptualisations of radical democracy should be rethought and reformulated in light of the non-traditional stripes of political thinking and activism crystallising in these movements. As such it contributes to ongoing debates in comparative political theory over radical democracy, social movements, and alternative futures.

Keywords: Radical Democracy, Contemporary Social Movements, Colombia, Turkey, Political Activism

Camilo Tamayo Gomez & Kaan Ağartan (The University of Huddersfield & Framingham State University, USA)

James Goodman & Tom Morton: Climate movements in Germany, India, and Australia: dynamics of transition, transformation, and emergency

Abstract: Climate movements have emerged with increasing force as governments continually fail to address the mounting climate crisis. Successive movement strategies have proved integral to the possibility of effective climate policy and to wider prospects for intentional climate agency. Tracing the emergence of climate movements from the mid-2000s, this article highlights three main developments in strategy. First climate ‘transition’ centres on policy advocacy and socio-technical solutions. Second, efforts at climate ‘transformation’ signal a move to grassroots organizing for just alternatives against fossil fuel dependence. Third, climate ‘emergency’ centres on the mobilization of symbolic and disruptive outrage at present and future climate change impacts. Dynamics on the ground are explored through analysis of developments in Germany, India, and Australia, as contrasting post-industrial, post-colonial, and extractivist cases. Analysis of climate movements across the three contexts draws-out converging themes and possibilities for broad-based cross-sector mobilization.

James Goodman & Tom Morton

12:15 – 13:30 Lunch Break

A buffet lunch will be provided for all delegates in the HBS Foyer. 

13:30 – 15:00 Session 5

5A Manchester Radical Histories: Local Walk

Pre-booking via essential. 

Location: Meet promptly at 1.30pm in the HBS Foyer; Guide: Kerry Pimblott (University of Manchester)

Join us for a guided walk around some key sites in the history of Manchester’s radical, internationalist, and antiracist politics. Among our stops will be the former Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall where the Fifth Pan-African Congress was held in 1945; the Old Abbey Taphouse where Len Johnson challenged the ‘colour bar’ in 1953; and the Ascension Church Hulme where Sri Lankan born communist Viraj Mendis sought sanctuary from deportation between 1986 and 1989. The walk will last 1.5 hours and span just over 2 miles.

Panel 5B

Location: G7; Chair: Adélie Chevée

Gemma Edwards & Finlay Malcolm: Religion and Climate Activism: Christian Theological Creativity, Prophecy, and Injustice Frames of Protest

Abstract: This paper takes a social movement approach to examine the ways in which theological creativity on the part of Christian groups in the UK is forging powerful ‘injustice frames’ (Gamson, 1992) that are providing religious motivation for climate activism. It also argues that innovations in the way in which Christians are thinking about the climate are being forged through their practical engagement with activism, both in Christian climate activist groups specifically, and the related groups of Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil. The paper draws upon data from the Religion, Theology and Climate Change project (AHRC, 2022-5), including a survey of Christian climate advocacy and activist groups (n=354), and 62 interviews. It focuses in particular on the narrative accounts of those involved in two major UK Christian climate activist groups, and the role played by ‘prophecy’ in participation in what can often be ‘high risk/cost’ (McAdam, 1986) forms of climate activism.

Keywords: climate activism; religion; Christianity; high-risk

Gemma Edwards & Finlay Malcolm (University of Manchester)

Kyle R. Matthews: Diffusion as a Colonising Process: Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa New Zealand and the XR model

Abstract: Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa New Zealand (XRANZ) was formed in early 2019 to diffuse the XR model – demands, principles, and a theory of change – to Aotearoa New Zealand. XRANZ activists, by adopting the Extinction Rebellion (XR) model wholesale, assumed that the two locations where homophilous, and therefore the model required no modification in order to be successfully diffused. However, a Māori and allies caucus within XRANZ quickly began to critique the XR model as colonising and worked to modify it. They did this by adding elements, such as a fourth demand, amending the model through translating it into Māori, and focusing XRANZ’s activism to more actively critique the relationships between colonisation and the climate crisis. I argue that these acts of resistance and adaption demonstrate two things: how social movements critique diffused knowledge-practices as colonising in nature, and how the process of diffusion itself can be colonising.

Keywords: Extinction Rebellion, diffusion, decolonising, knowledge, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Kyle R. Matthews (He Whenua Taurikura – National Centre of Research Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism – Victoria University of Wellington)

Kateřina Holá: Solidary Networks Against Energetic Poverty in Czech Republic

Abstract: This multimodal presentation examines the potentials, tensions, and limits of enacting more equitable and sustaining futures through collective actions tackling energetic poverty in Czech Republic as collaboration of climate and social movement, people directly affected by energy crisis and NGO’s. As part of the ethnographic research for my diploma thesis, which deals with everyday forms of reactions to/living with the energy crisis in the Czech Republic, I respond to the extreme rise in energy prices in 2022 due to the collapse of energy companies, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, collaborative mutual aid practices arise as energy price increases have caused financial hardship for 53 percent of Czech households since the fall of 2021. ,,Who is not sick, secretly heats’’ became the motto of winter 2023. Situations that everyone of us felt directly, and yet the mobilization around the topic proofs to be difficult as the topic is mostly abducted by far right parties capable of offering easy solution and as year 2023 breaks the temperature records to be the first to exceed the level of 1.5 degrees warming. In my research I aim to look at the everyday reality of people affected by energy crisis, how people themselves understand and define energy poverty, what practices they use to address it and whether mutual aid works among people at risk and what forms it takes. As coming to the field from several sides, as a member of climate movement Limity jsme my conducting solidarity insulation brigades, in which a group of volunteers insulate windows. As an Organizer at NGO Re-set working on a first bottom-up energy cooperative in Northern Bohemia post-mining region, and as a person who lives in a house where the temperature in a fridge this winter was higher than in a kitchen surrounding it. How do we imagine the stakes of the present in terms of the (often contested) past (Povinelli 2021) and what principle of solidarity do such collaborations brings and is it possible to create solidarity networks through them?

Keywords: energetic poverty, solidarity networks, post-mining regions, Northern Bohemia, Militant Anthropology

Kateřina Holá (Faculty of Humanities, Charles University)

Panel 5C

Location: G32; Chair: Daniela Cocco Beltrame

Matthew Wingfield & Antje Daniel: African Futures and Protest: Climate politics on the African continent and beyond

Abstract: In the wake of various international climate protests, which aim to highlight the connectedness of the globe in the context of the climate crisis, we explore how various regional and local contexts both align and conflict with such global narratives. By thinking from different localities (South Africa, Uganda), we focus on how global narratives of resistance to the Anthropocene “land”. Drawing on both historical and current qualitative research data in forming an analysis, we focus on both the individual localities, and the regional connections between them. In South Africa, such global forms of mobilisation are interpreted to connect to a rich history of political and activist mobilisation, stretching from the colonial period, through Aparthied, to the current stratified post-apartheid context. This presentation draws both linkages and discontinuities between both South Africa and Uganda, and in doing so, illustrates how various scales of narratives are used politically. Further, the geographical and socio-economic contrast raises questions about the applicability of global climate crisis narratives in different continents. This presentation makes a contribution to the forms of analysis fundamental to both climate-oriented and internationally collaborative social movements, and to the theorisation of civil disobedience as a repertoire across contexts.

Keywords: Climate politics, Social Movements, Africa Studies, multi-sited, Anthropocene

Matthew Wingfield & Antje Daniel (Stellenbosch University)

Daniel Brown: People’s Diplomacy at the New World Embassy: Translations, Transnational Solidarity and Anti-colonial Imaginaries

Abstract: Despite its resistance to NATO’s second largest army and the involvement of millions across many geographies and areas of life; the Kurdistan Freedom Movement (KFM) is relatively understudied. This paper will focus on the KFM’s concept of ‘people’s diplomacy’ which involves engagements with liberal and statist institutions (including political parties, courts and human rights NGOs) whilst drawing on “millennia-old legacies of mutual, symbiotic neighbourly relations between peoples”, including but not limited to revolutionary traditions of internationalism (Dirik, 2022: 58). The movement and its diplomatic practices are present not just in the four states that lay claim to the geographies of Kurdistan, but also across Europe through Kurdish diaspora and internationalist solidarity networks. This paper draws on an ethnography of the 2023 New World Embassy: Kurdistan, a conference bringing artists, stateless peoples, and social movements in conversation with the KFM in Lausanne, the site of the 1923 treaty which divided Kurdistan into four parts. The symbolic importance of Lausanne reflects the conference’s aim to challenge colonial histories and diplomatic practices by imagining and pre-figuring an alternative grassroots diplomatic tradition. This paper will examine this transnational grassroots diplomacy in practice. The conference brought different sectors of civil society together from municipal actors in Lausanne to trade unionists from Bangladesh. I will examine the conference’s attempt to pre-figure a new transnational grassroots diplomacy, and the translational challenges of creating discussion and networks between diverse socio-political practices and cultures.

Keywords: Kurdish, Diplomacy, Internationalism, Civil-Society, Translation

Daniel Brown (LSE Sociology)

Carl Death: Visions of alternative climate futures in South Africa

Abstract: This paper arises from a wider book project on African Climate Futures, examining socio-climatic imaginaries for alternative futures in and from Africa. The book reads net zero policy strategies alongside fictional imaginaries in film, short stories and novels to explore hegemonic and counter-hegemonic visions of climate-changed futures in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In this paper I seek to connect these imaginaries to the wider context of environmental movements and social justice activists in South Africa, exploring questions such as how fiction relates to concrete struggles, and the possibilities and constraints for imagining radical futures in South Africa today. Stories by Vuyokazi Ngemntu, Alistair Mackay and Jessica Wilson are read alongside perspectives from activists in trade union, NGO and community-based organisations struggling for a just transition.

Keywords: Imaginaries, Climate justice, fiction, South Africa

Carl Death (University of Manchester)

15:00 – 15:15 Comfort Break

15:15 – 17:00 Session 6

Panel 6A

Location: G6; Chair: Matthew Wingfield 

Lidia Yáñez Lagos: The role of memories in individual responses to police violence: an exploration of the 'Chile Woke up' movement

Abstract: Repression is a crucial factor in understanding cycles of collective action and barriers to participation in protests of excluded groups. However, its impact on social movements continues to be disputed in the literature, since there is no agreement on how repressive episodes affect protests by increasing or decreasing their intensity. As has been recently discussed, the different individual responses to repression and the tactics carried out by protesters to confront police violence could be an important piece in solving this puzzle. From a perspective that emphasises the realities of the ‘global south’, this research proposes that memories of past struggles are a crucial dimension of social movements that influence responses to repression. Specifically, this study seeks to address this gap by exploring the case of the “Chile woke up” movement, which emerged in 2019 and radicalised in a context of brutal repression and human rights violations. Considering all, this particular paper develops a novel theoretical model to address the impacts of two types of memory -communicative and cultural- on the responses to repression of three agents -dominant class, organisations and families, individuals-. It also presents a preliminary exploration of the qualitative results of the study based on interviews with participants of this movement.

Keywords: social movements, memories, repression, ‘Chile woke up’ movement, individual responses

Lidia Yáñez Lagos (University of Manchester)

Lucía Guerrero: Wounded resistance: surviving ocular maiming in Colombia

Abstract: During the Colombian National Strike of 2021, at least 103 people sustained ocular trauma caused by police brutality. Far from a novel or unique phenomenon, ocular mutilation in contexts of social upheaval has been documented around the world since the First Intifada in Palestine and, most recently, in Argentina. Drawing on a participatory film project with an organisation of survivors of ocular injury in Colombia, this paper examines the meanings given to eye injuries and the practices of those living with their aftermath. I begin by discussing the impacts of ocular maiming on the narratives and practices of organised resistance. On the one hand, the mutilation of protesters debilitates both individual and social bodies. Besides the widespread bodily harm and resulting impairments that have been denounced by disability justice collectives and flagged by physicians as a public health concern, the wound itself can serve to discourage and stigmatise protest when framed as a collateral harm of maintaining public order. On the other, the wounded eye has been taken up by social movements as a symbol of sacrifice and a call for justice and reparation. Survivors, however, challenge this rhetoric through their everyday practices, resisting the romanticisation of their injuries even as they negotiate tensions between their experiences of disablement and the political significance of their wounded eyes. More crucially, the survivors’ group has avoided being siloed into a single-issue struggle, forging networks of solidarity, and countering the wounding of resisting bodies through the resistance of wounded bodies.

Keywords: Disability, state violence, debilitation, less-lethal weapons

Lucía Guerrero (University of Exeter)

John Lindsay McEwan Duncan: Contesting Commodification: Human Rights in Social Movements

Abstract: This paper critically examines the role of human rights within UK-based social movements and asks whether the use of rights represents a co-option of movements by dominant power structures, or whether there is space for a radical inversion of human rights. Building on recent work in the field of sociology of rights which emphasizes the “social life of rights” and the interaction between micro level social constructions via social movement action, and macro level systemic forces, this paper constructs a counter-hegemonic theory of human rights use in social movements. The findings of this paper are drawn from data generated from 10 in-depth qualitative interviews. The activists interviewed 1) consistently rejected hegemonic, legal/NGO human rights structures 2) used human rights as an introduction to their activism and a base upon which further critiques are built and 3) frequently used human rights to contest the commodification of socially reproductive goods. These findings are placed in the context of a re-examination of neoliberalism which emphasizes the commodification of socially reproductive areas (such as education) as a process of primitive accumulation. The findings are then contrasted against hegemonic legal/NGO expression of human rights which are understood to be an essential consent generating structure of neoliberalism. This paper finds that counterhegemonic human rights may be practically useful tools for social movements which aim to challenge neoliberalism. Moreover, by challenging hegemonic human rights, social movements which generated a human rights counterhegemony may challenge an essential element of generating consent for this form of hegemony.

Keywords: Social movements, neoliberalism, Human Rights, Hegemony

John Lindsay McEwan Duncan

Panel 6B

Location: G7; Chair: Paul Routledge

Kai Yang: Demobilizing Contentious Veterans: Campaign-Style Dispute Resolution in China

Abstract: In the early Xi Jinping era, Chinese veterans escalated their contention and repeatedly staged cross-regional collective actions, sparking concerns about the internal stability of the governing regime. However, by 2019 veterans’ broad-based mobilizations had largely faded into obscurity, even though local and individual activism persisted. How did the government successfully contain veterans’ mobilization without radicalizing the entire issue group? Drawing on evidence from fieldwork, media accounts, and government documents, this article argues that the regime has embraced a campaignstyle stability maintenance approach, defined as the concerted top-down mobilization of all available resources by central authorities to silence designated targets within a defined time frame. This approach differs from the transformative campaigns prevalent in the Mao Zedong era, as its chief purpose is to defend rather than transform the existing sociopolitical and economic order. It also deviates from routine stability-preserving practices, as the intensity of protest suppression, the breadth of targeted subjects, and the speed of conflict resolution have all been markedly escalated. In the post-Mao era, the state adopts this approach when it urgently needs to silence a particular group or preserve stability during sensitive periods. Although this strategy has indeed assisted the regime in managing politically threatening forms of contention, its implementation often comes at the expense of upholding the rule of law. Furthermore, since its primary goal is to swiftly demobilize protests rather than fundamentally redress grievances, the achieved outcomes may lack long-term sustainability.

Keywords: Campaign-style governance, Chinese politics, protest control, veterans

Kai Yang (Lingnan University, Hong Kong)

Kevin Chong Yew Tan: The Social Mobilisation of Conservative Malays Against Malaysia's "Injured Leviathan"

Abstract: My paper provides a critical account on how a conservative Malay-Muslim social movement (SM) emerged and developed in Malaysia between 2008 and 2017. Looking at both structure and agency in state-society relations, it examines the political opportunity structure (POS) in Malaysia and the framing to mobilise conservative Malays. I will argue that the POS is largely determined by state capacity to repress regime opponents. From a previously “robust Leviathan”, the Malaysian state has been reduced to an “injured Leviathan” following the 2008 general election. This created an opening for a new conservative movement to emerge in civil society. However, the SM’s development can also be attributed to its SMOs’ collective agency. Using frame analyses, I identify ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) and Islamic populism as two of their most important “collective action frames” (Snow & Benford, 1988). To further elucidate their agency, I also investigate their “frame alignment strategies” (Snow, et. al., 1986) in various discourses. Finally, I will explain how such right-wing populist framings “renovated” opposing collective identities of Malay nationalists and Islamists and converged them under a single SM to challenge the injured Leviathan.

Keywords: Political opportunity structure, framing, agency, conservative Malays, ketuanan Melayu, Islamic populism

Kevin Chong Yew Tan (University of Nottingham Malaysia)

Kerry Pimblott: Viraj Mendis Must Stay: Anti-Deportation Campaigns and the Battle for Sanctuary in 1980s Britain

Abstract: On December 20, 1986, Sri Lankan communist Viraj Mendis entered the Church of the Ascension in Hulme and took up sanctuary. Over the next 760 days, the Church would serve as Mendis’ refuge against state racism and the imminent threat of deportation, as well as a model of the potential power of public sanctuary as a strategy for other anti-deportation battles in Thatcher’s Britain. In the decades since, historians have joined political scientists and legal scholars in tracing the contours of Britain’s tightening post-war immigration regime (Holmes, 1998; Layton-Henry, 1992; Paul, 1997; Cohen, 2001, 2003, 2006; El-Enany, 2020; Patel, 2021). Yet much less attention has been paid to the social history of the grassroots anti-deportation campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s and how this dynamic social movement field interacted with and shaped the strategic manoeuvres of state actors. Accordingly, and in recognition of the 35th anniversary of Viraj Mendis’s forced removal, this paper reflects on learnings emerging from an ongoing “community-engaged history” project (Ono-George, 2019) conducted in partnership with the Ascension Church Hulme (formerly Church of the Ascension) and the Radical Reading Room Collective to better preserve, document, and (re)present the Viraj Mendis Defence Campaign (VMDC). Drawing on archival records, memory workshops, and oral histories conducted with former campaign members, this paper examines the origins, character and legacies of the VMDC campaign, as well as the ethical and political dilemmas raised by a project that seeks to counter public forgetting with acts of collective remembrance.

Keywords: Viraj Mendis, sanctuary, anti-deportation campaigns, immigration restrictions

Kerry Pimblott (University of Manchester)

Panel 6C

Location: G32; Chair: Shamsher Singh

Andres Emiliano Sierra Martinez: Neighbourhood environmental activism as a theme of urban social movements and protest: analytical insights from a case study in Mexico City

Abstract: This paper discusses contemporary trajectories of environmentalism in urban social movements in Mexico City. These analytical insights derive from the empirical engagement with the emergence of the Water Defence Committee of Santo Domingo (WDC) as a neighbour-based organisation that coordinates protest and neighbour solidarity facing water scarcity in Santo Domingo, Mexico City. Discussions on urban social movements have considered neighbourhood organisations in analyses of political democratisation and resistance to exclusion (Borja, 2010; Meyer & Boudreau, 2012). Similar studies also concentrate on proximity and density as elements of everyday politics in urban settings (Beveridge & Koch, 2018; Cochrane, 2018). Working with the description of the WDC as a case study, this paper contributes to such discussions by offering evidence to understand the complexity and potential that neighbour relationships represent for processes of popular protest. Considering sociological descriptions of the neighbour relationship and the consequences of water scarcity in connection to environmental justice agendas (Agyeman et al., 2016; Painter, 2012), this paper explores neighbourhood environmentalist activism as a theme of urban social movements and protests. The paper argues that this form of activism is marked by expressions of place attachment (or self-identification with a landscape) and by processes of resonance (understood as an amplification of local capacities). As part of the analysis, the paper considers the historical context of urban social movements in Mexico City. It suggests that neighbourhood environmental activism is a contemporary reconfiguration of a trajectory of popular protest around housing and urban services that incorporates new insights, particularly in a city affected by real estate capitalist speculation. Therefore, this case study helps to map emergent themes in urban social movements, particularly in the context of Mexico, and to problematise place attachment and resonance as contingent elements of spatial solidarity beyond romanticised descriptions of precarity. References Agyeman, J., Schlosberg, D., Craven, L., & Matthews, C. (2016). Trends and Directions in Environmental Justice: From Inequity to Everyday Life, Community, and Just Sustainabilities. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 41(1), 321-340. Beveridge, R., & Koch, P. (2018). Urban everyday politics: Politicising practices and the transformation of the here and now. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 37(1), 142-157. Borja, J. (2010). Democracy in search of the future city. In A. Sugranyes & M. C. (Eds.), Cities for All. Proposals and Experiences towards the Right to the City (pp. 29-42). Habitat International Coalition. Cochrane, A. (2018). Here, there, and everywhere. Rethinking the urban of urban politics. In K. Ward, A. Jonas, B. Miller, & D. Wilson (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook on Spaces of Urban Politics (pp. 14-25). Routledge. Meyer, S., & Boudreau, J. A. (2012). Social Movements in Urban Politics: Trends in Research and Practice. In P. John, K. Mossberger, & S. E. Clarke (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Urban Politics. Painter, J. (2012). The Politics of the Neighbour. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 30(3), 515-533.

Keywords: urban social movements ; environmentalism ; neighbourhood organisations; protest ; Mexico City

Andres Emiliano Sierra Martinez (The University of Sheffield )

Dániel Mikecz, Dániel Oross & Dominik Rákos: The visual communication of climate change in a shifting political environment: images as means of cohesion and polarization in Hungary

Abstract: Increasing political polarization is a growing concern in many contemporary democracies. Digitalisation has made it much easier for like-minded individuals to interact with each other, but it has also emerged as a space that can generate extremist positions and social conflict. While the literature has made important advances in describing polarization, the visual dimension has been largely ignored. In our paper we explore the complex dynamics of visual digital communication of environmentalist and climate protection grassroots groups and civil society organizations in Hungary. The climate issue has been regarded as a valence issue, there was a broad consensus in mitigating climate change. Nevertheless, after the 2019 climate protest wave the global coronavirus pandemic demobilized the climate movement and later together with the war in the Ukraine shifted the public focus. Our paper aims to understand how and with which purpose visual contents are produced by climate CSOs, and how they are perceived by their audiences. We are also interested in the role of visual content in creating social cohesion on the one hand and polarization on the other. The paper’s findings are based on interviews conducted in frame of the PolarVis research with civil society and grassroots groups’ representatives, the visual analysis of images by these groups and organizations and on the sentiment analysis of the public perception of their visual social media content. Our initial results indicate that the use of confrontation as a visual strategy is not contingent on the organizational background (grassroots or NGO) or the thematic profile of the group. Instead, it appears to be influenced by their alliance network and access to decision-making. These findings help us to understand how CSOs respond to polarization in their visual communication and also shed new light on the phenomenon of NGOization.

Keywords: climate activism, polarisation, social media, visual communication, NGOization, Hungary

Dániel Mikecz, Dániel Oross & Dominik Rákos (HUN-REN Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Political Science)

Federico Castano Vargas: The insufficiency of the comprehensive approach in the implementation of the *PNIS in Colombia: a complementary and comprehensive proposal from environmental ethics and justice

Abstract: The fundamental problem of the cocaine hydrochloride (which is mainly used as a recreational drug) production and trafficking chain in Colombia, is whether part or all the chain should be legalized or prohibited. Coca farmers indirectly participate in part of the cocaine hydrochloride production, by planting coca bushes and collecting its leaves and, in some cases, carry out the first phase of processing the coca leaf to obtain cocaine paste base. Processes that are essential for others, drug dealers and criminal networks, to produce the cocaine hydrochloride that is trafficked illegally. Because the State leaned towards prohibition in 1986 (Law 30 of 1986) and equated planting coca bushes and collecting coca leaves with manufacturing and trafficking cocaine hydrochloride between 2000 until august 7, 2022 (Law 599 of 2000 – Articles 375, 376, 377, 378 and 382). This led to a moral criminalization judgement of coca harvesters, although they were not completely criminalized, because the State provided them an alternative and launched the PNIS (acronym in Spanish) that stands for Comprehensive National Program for the Substitution of Crops for Illicit use. However, the comprehensive approach of the PNIS is insufficient since its vocation is predominantly economic and there are gaps in its implementation. Namely, there is a lack of a holistic approach to take care of ecosystems in rural areas and no recognition of various prerogatives or claims of coca farmers that are protected by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) and the Draft Legislative Act 019 (PAL019), in which the peasantry is recognized as a subject of special protection; for these reasons, it is suggested that the comprehensive approach of the PNIS is insufficient. *PNIS: Comprehensive National Program for Substitution of Crops for Illicit Use (for its initials in Spanish)

Keywords: coca growers, PNIS, UNDROP, PAL 019, environmental ethics and justice, agroecology

Federico Castano Vargas (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia)

Dorota Kordecka: Local participation in nonviolent direct action movements like Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil: The perspective of becoming a public whistleblower.

Abstract: Most of the respondents of my research, despite receiving some contradictory feedback from the public and the media, still believe that the concern about climate change is shared by the majority of the public, but with a variety level of knowledge and with the government not taking the problem seriously enough. In the example of the group from one of the North of England districts, I explore the meanders of how people becoming aware and trying out the collective agency approach and exercise it within provided by the Extinction (XR) and Just Stop Oil (JSO) different frameworks and opportunities for organizing actions. I captured peoples’ accounts when they reflected on the processes of forming and changing their beliefs about direct actions. Them, navigating between successes and failures, public and personal matters were led through the maze of entangled experiences and reactions. The question I refer to in my study is how people are affected by crises and how conflicts on the global scene provide fuel or cause a distraction to the group activities of XR and JSO members. On the personal level, preparation and confidence in becoming a person in the public realm take different shapes and boil down to the choice of tactics or other modes of involvement. When facing responses to environmental challenges and calls for movements’ organizational needs, people’s positions and connections within the local community also become a matter of strategy. In my study, I took a task to explore how people go through tensions of a social and personal nature and what impact they have on relations within their close environment, what urgency it creates, and how it increases appetites and consolidates collective action. In other words, what makes members of social movement groups continue or escape from public representations and confrontations?

Keywords: direct action, non-violent movement, climate change, local activism

Dorota Kordecka (University of Leeds)

Wednesday 19th June

09:00 – 10:30 Session 7

Panel 7A

Location: G6; Chair: Hamid Khalafallah

Shamsher Singh: Archiving People’s Movements: A Case of Farmers’ Movement (2020-21) in India

Abstract: The Farmers’ Movement in India against the three contentious farm-laws (now withdrawn) lasted for over a year (November 2020-December 2021), making it one of the longest and united rural struggles of our times. The movement was joined by hundreds of thousands of active protesters. These protests impacted different aspects of Indian society, and at the same time different sections and classes of society played a role in sustaining it, turning it into a people’s movement. There exists a rich tradition of documenting social movements in general and agrarian movements in particular in India. However, most of these documentations have been restricted to an academic audience resulting in lack of access of masses to these resources. The digital tools and technology of the recent times serve an important medium in documenting, archiving and bridging the access gap making the documentation more accessible and sustainable. People’s Archive of Farmers’ Protests (pafp) (2020-21) is one such attempt. Website link: The objective behind this exercise, firstly, is to create a repository of the events and developments that took place during the course of the movement to develop an understanding of the progression, nature and character of the movement. Secondly, to make this information available in the public domain for creating scholarship on the agrarian issues and rural mobilisations. The information in the archive has been sourced primarily from media reports and the social media platforms in real time. This process went on for around two years which resulted in a dedicated website of this documentation. The Timeline section records approximately one thousand protest action calls across eight countries. The archive now serves as a public repository for activists, academics, and policy makers to understand the role of people’s mobilization in decision making and political outcomes. This paper discusses the importance and relevance of documenting mass and social movements. The talk will engage on the methodological, ethical, and political challenges of doing research on the dynamics of collective action and will bring out challenges of archiving the movement in a self-reflective way.

Keywords: farmers’ movement, archiving, India, agrarian distress, Resistance, Agrarian activism

Shamsher Singh (FLAME University, Pune, India)

Bethany Aylward (she/her): Capturing social movements: Web archiving needs of activist archives in The North (UK)

Abstract: This paper will draw on the findings of my doctoral research into the attitudes and experiences of activist archivists in the North of England and Scotland with regards to capturing the documentary heritage of contemporary social movements hosted on the web. My research highlighted three key challenges to grassroots activist web archiving: the practical issue of limited resources, including time, funds, and technical proficiency; ethical concerns around consent and security; and conceptual barriers related to the (in)stability of the internet and the inefficacy of digital advocacy or “slacktivism”. Through semi-structured interviews with sixteen activist archivists from eight community-based archiving projects documenting, anarchist, anti-racist, feminist, queer liberation, and working-class movement histories, my findings emphasised the significant role of memory work in the life cycle of social movements. The core activities of activist archival work identified through this research are: Countering historical erasure and misrepresentation through reclaiming narratives; democratising access to information; activist education and the formation of collective ideologies; holding authorities to account for social injustices past and present. Consequently, I argue that activist archives are integral to the building and sustaining of social movements and that the challenges faced by grassroots archivists in terms of archiving the web need to be addressed in order for them to continue their vital work in increasingly digital societies. Key recommendations are for existing infrastructures of support to be more proactive in providing resources and guidance for community-based web archiving efforts, as well as the creation of a robust community of practice where activist archivists can share tools, skills, and knowledge peer-to-peer, in the spirit of the movements to which they belong and dedicate themselves to documenting.

Keywords: activist archives, web archiving, memory work, social movements, digital advocacy

Bethany Aylward (she/her) (University of Sheffield)

Steve Speed: Here We Stand: Archives of Grassroots International Solidarity Campaigns

Abstract: The Working Class Movement Library (WCML) in Salford, UK, is an activist led archive which records over 200 years of organising and campaigning. A significant aspect of this collection comes from local activists who have engaged with international struggle, examples of which include: Irish Independence, South African Apartheid, Vietnam War, Pan-Africanism, American Civil Rights, and Spanish Civil War. There is a great deal scholarship on international solidarity movements (Thomson 2023; Forman 2021; Christiaens et 2020; Janzen 2018; Weiss 2017), but there has been far less focus on the nature of these at local level. Additionally, there are also a number of archives documenting international solidarity campaigns (British Anti-Apartheid Movement Archive, Palestinian International Solidarity Movement Archive, Timor International Solidarity Archive, Greenham Women Everywhere Archive…), but far fewer with a diversity of campaigns, as is found at WCML, and even less that are placed in a context of local grassroots activism. This paper introduces a project that is looking at what this archive tells us about the way local activists have engaged in the campaigns documented in the archive at WCML. It does this to explore the tradition of international solidarity campaigns in the local region, the strategies employed by local activists, the relationship between local and international dimensions of these campaigns, and, where possible, the impact of their actions. The paper will also look at the library’s role in these campaigns as both a place of learning and organising but, perhaps more significantly, how its founders collected in a manner that both aimed to challenge the hegemonic arrangements of political relations and resist the pressures of bourgeois culture to commodify its material.

Steve Speed (University of Bolton)

Panel 7B

Location: G7; Chair: Federico Castano Vargas

Loren Lok Yung Ma: Different struggles, same oppressor: the role of identity in the Anti-CCP coalition between HongKongers, Tibetans and Uyghurs

Abstract: Abstract In recent years, Hong Kong, Tibetan and Uyghur organisations have started to co- organise protests against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in major cities around the world. Proponents of collective identity theories suggested that collective identity was required for mobilisation in collective actions, but later scholars viewed tolerant identities as more effective as it promoted flexibility and inclusiveness. Given that the three diasporic groups in this coalition had very distinct cultures and identities, how were they able to overcome their differences to form a coalition and what was the role of identity in it? Through semi-structured interviews with 8 joint-protests organisers/activists, this study showed that tolerant – instead of collective – identities that were Anti-CCP and yet non- exclusive and encouraged identification with group-level collective identities were able, and more suitable, in providing a sense of solidarity among them. This was explained by each group’s varying extent of struggles with constructing, asserting and/or maintaining their collective identities – as HongKongers, Tibetans or Uyghurs – opposite to the Chinese identity, which was an important element of their respective social movements. Their recognition of shared experiences and grievances also helped them to overcome their differences and learn from each other. Framing of the joint-protests were found to be shaped by these tolerant identities and the groups’ shared experience of relocation. The master frames of “Anti-CCP” and “human rights” used in the coalition further showed the highly contentious nature of their collective actions. Overall, this study demonstrated the complex and multi-layered role of identity in this coalition – collective identity at group-level and tolerant identities at coalition-level – challenging the dichotomy between collective and tolerant identities theories and expanding our understanding on transnational and diasporic social movements.

Keywords: Social movements, identities, diaspora, transnationalism, contentious politics

Loren Lok Yung Ma (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Grzegorz Piotrowski: Reconfiguration of the Pro-Migrant and Refugee Activists’ Arena in Poland

Abstract: The sphere of grassroots and civil activism became highly politicised before the 2015 elections. The introduction of the new policies has resulted in higher levels of mobilisations, both supporting and resisting the new policies of the PiS government. For instance, Poland has switched from a country with the highest acceptance rate for refugees in the EU to the one with the lowest rate within around a year sparking a number of anti-migrant and anti-refugee mobilisations and at the same time fuelled the growth of initiatives opposing the trend. The narrative about masses of refugees in Poland and at its borders threatening various aspects of Polish culture, civilisation, and identity started to keep heat in the bed and have provoked numerous intended and unintended consequences, political and social, so as further campaigns against LGBT community. In this paper I reflect on the development of the anti-fascist and anti-racist movements in Poland in the face of structural changes that are a result of the political shift initiated in 2015.

Keywords: Poland, illiberal democracy, civil activism, refugees, migration,

Grzegorz Piotrowski (Institute for Sociology, University of Gdańsk)

Alisha Ibkar: Anatomy of a Careful Protest: The Shaheenbagh Movement and its Ethos of Care

Abstract: The Care Collective in their Care Manifesto ask an important question, ‘how do we begin to address the pervasiveness of carelessness?’ The answer, they argue, is ‘a progressive vision of a world that takes the idea of care as its organising principle seriously.’ They suggest that to achieve that vision, care needs to be prioritised not only in the domestic sphere but in all spheres. The 2019 historic women-led protest at Shaheenbagh, India, I would argue, was a materialisation of that ‘progressive vision’ where the protesters built on their knowledge of ‘care-in-practice’ in the domestic sphere to address the larger issue of the ‘pervasiveness of carelessness’ in the governance of the country (2020, p. 19). At Shaheenbagh, the women protesters used their experience in the devalued caring practices of parenting, nursing, and nurturing to create a novel narrative of political resistance. The protest in with its leadership (diffuse and rotational), unique curation of the site (replete with care structures like protest library, dispensary, and a lawyers tent), and character (inclusionary and non-violent) reflected the ethos of care that the protesters built to meet their care needs towards themselves, their families, their fellow protesters, and at large, their community. The protest library that gave the protesters’ children a ‘safe space’ to learn, play and develop political awareness, the dispensary that took care of the medical needs their small children, the legal tent that protected their husbands, brothers and fathers from state repression, were all thought of and set up by these women so that they could balance perfectly their responsibilities of care alongside their participation in the movement. Through the protest, these women not only displayed astute political awareness but also compelling moral salience of attending to the needs of the community they felt responsibility for (Held, 2006). They protested to seek care with care, and in the process pointed towards the relevance and significance of an overarching politics of care in democratic politics. My presentation will study the ethos of care built at Shaheenbagh (1993) and in the process look into how caring can be imagined as an alternative to the existing non-violent methods of staging resistance. References Held, V. (2006). The Ethics of Care : Personal, Political and Global. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tronto, J.C. (1993). Moral boundaries : a political argument for an ethics of care. London: Routledge. The Care Collective (2020). The Care Manifesto: The Politics of Interdependence. S.L.: Verso Books.

Keywords: Care ethics, Protest, Shaheenbagh

Alisha Ibkar (University of Manchester)

10:30 – 10:45 Comfort Break

10:45 – 12:15 Session 8

Panel 8A

Location: G6; Chair: Loren Lok Yung Ma

Keita Ando: Japanese Publishing Workers at the Forefront: Combating Historical Denialism with Social Movement Unionism

Abstract: Since the 1990s, the global battle against historical denialism has seen varied actors take the stage, with academic historians typically at the forefront. However, in Japan, a unique approach has emerged where labor unions, specifically the Japan Federation of Publishing Workers’ Union (JFPWU), have taken a leading role. This study explores how JFPWU’s commitment to social movement unionism, extending beyond the typical focus on tackling neoliberalism since the 1980s, has positioned it as a key player in combating historical denialism. Through a detailed analysis of JFPWU’s publications from the 1950s to the 2000s and semi-structured interviews with the leaders of its Textbook Department, this research highlights how the union’s activism extends beyond labor issues to engage deeply with societal concerns like historical accuracy in textbooks. Initially, JFPWU’s activism focused on opposing the Ministry of Education’s textbook screening system, labeling it unconstitutional censorship that violated freedom of expression. This stance evolved significantly with the Ienaga Trials which began in 1965, shifting from a legal battle over textbook vetting to a broader discourse on historical narratives. By the early 1990s, the union’s fight had expanded into a wider debate on Japan’s wartime actions in Asia, demonstrating the flexibility and breadth of social movement unionism. The establishment of “Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform” in 1997, aiming to create textbooks that instilled national pride by emphasizing Japan’s greatness over its aggressive past, prompted JFPWU to initiate “Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21” as a counter-movement. This initiative underscores JFPWU’s pivotal role in shaping public memory and resisting historical denialism, showcasing the broader societal impact possible through social movement unionism. This case study not only underlines the critical role of labor unions in Japan’s post-war social movements but also broadens the understanding of the societal issues social movement unionism can address.

Keywords: Social Movement Unionism, Historical Denialism, Publishing Workers, Japan’s Wartime History, Freedom of Expression, Textbook Screening System

Keita Ando (Graduate School of Arts and Science, University of Tokyo)

Elvira Wepfer: Environmental Anthropology meets Agroecology: Towards A Pedagogy of Reciprocal Relationality

Abstract: With this paper I set out to consider how radical practices in education can create alternative futures. To do so, I first discuss the pedagogical structures at Schumacher College, an interdisciplinary institute for ecological education in Devon, UK. Based on ethnographic research in 2023, I describe the college’s ‘head, heart and hands’ approach to teaching, which combines theoretical with relational and practical learning. In describing the classrooms, the campus and the gardens, I set the scene beyond ivory tower infrastructure in a space for emplaced learning. Then, I describe how classroom theory is substantiated with outdoor experiential methods that exchange common dichotomies of human-environment education for interspecies learning. Finally, I speak of the college’s communal living structures and its ethics of abundant love, to show how they broaden the learning experience beyond the curriculum to everyday care and respect. The pedagogy that emerges is ecological in that it actively fosters learning through reciprocal relationality. Ecopedagogies aim to transform education to a holistic, systemic, ecological and participative way of understanding the world by actively considering, conversing and collaborating with what is more-than-human. Second, I present a curriculum idea which fuses environmental anthropology with agroecology, an interdisciplinary field of study and practice to justly regenerate human-environment relationality. I participated in the final year of the College’s practice-based non-accredited course in agroecology, which centred around a 5 acre field for market gardening. In an attempt to fuse this course with environmental anthropology, I present first ideas for a curriculum of an applied agroecological anthropology, as a way of fostering a kind of academic education that creates alternative futures of ecological thinking and a relationality that is reciprocal in that it honours interspecies regeneration and resilience.

Keywords: Environmental Anthropology, Agroecology, Applied, Pedagogy, Curriculum

Elvira Wepfer (Schumacher Institute)

Darren Webb: From critical to transformative hope

Abstract: This paper argues for the need within radical social movements, in moments of utopian rupture, to move from critical to transformative hope. Drawing on my own “modes of hoping” framework (a framework for making sense of hope as a socially mediated human capacity experienced in highly differentiated forms), the experience of Occupy Wall Street is used as an illustrative case study. The argument of the paper can be summarised in five short claims: Firstly, OWS signalled a utopian shift, a utopian moment, the discovery of a new structure of feeling. Secondly, OWS was born of the frustrated patient hope placed in Barack Obama. Thirdly, that this patient hope gave way in 2011 to a critical hope of refusal and negation. Fourthly, however, that the movement got stuck within this mode of hoping and never moved beyond the collective experience of restless, inchoate indignation. Finally, that OWS lends support to Mannheim’s claim that the inchoate collective desires of a group need utopian direction if the group/movement is to become a historically transformative force. The paper concludes by reflecting on how the move from critical to transformative hope might be mobilised.

Keywords: Hope, utopia, mobilisation, OWS

Darren Webb (University of Sheffield )

Panel 8B

Location: G7; Chair: Alexandre Nogueira Martins

Nerea Montejo López: From revolution to critical junctures and vice versa: An analysis through the new prefigurative practices of the Socialist Movement in Spain.

Abstract: This article delves into a paradigm shift within Social Movement Studies, examining the impact of displacing the revolutionary sequence with a focus on critical junctures influenced by neoliberal ideology. Theoretical framing suggests a shift towards adopting the capitalist system as a key framework, emphasizing the need to analyze capitalism as a totality for a comprehensive understanding of mobilization dynamics. Anticipation, prefiguration, and restlessness are identified as pivotal elements, introducing a critical conceptualization of prefiguration as a counter-temporal and strategic toolbox during critical junctures. In the paper we carry out an empirical case study analysis, focusing on the Socialist Movement in Spain. It analyses the break in the political cycle led by the 15-M movement and the current cycle led by the Socialist Movement. Methodological elements include examining the reasons for the break, dissatisfaction with the previous cycle, analysis of the current situation and identification of a new strategy/paradigm. The Socialist Network of Spaces is explored as a prefigurative practice aligned with the movement’s objectives. Preliminary findings include the identification of three key characteristics of the prefigurative practice within the Socialist Network of Spaces: political occupation, strategic counter-temporality, and macro-micropolitical connection. The conclusions highlight the academic displacement of certain concepts, calling for approaches beyond institutional analysis. The reconceptualization of prefiguration as counter-temporal and strategic underscores the intricate interplay between present actions and future aspirations in social movements. The article contributes to Social Movement Studies by challenging conventional notions, advocating for a return to broader approaches, and proposing a reconceptualization of prefiguration. It underscores the significance of understanding social movements through the lens of capitalism as a totality and emphasizes the practical manifestation of theoretical considerations in the strategies of the Movimiento Socialista in Spain. The study highlights the irruption of the Movimiento Socialista as an insurrectional subject and showcases how theoretical considerations drive practical strategies, emphasizing the relentless pursuit of overcoming contradictions in the political space.

Keywords: revolution; critical junctures; prefigurative politics; socialist movement; space control

Nerea Montejo López (Scuola Normale Superiore)

Nuria Suero Comellas: Power dynamics in social centers

Abstract: There is plenty of evidence about the transformative power of social movements. But, how are power dynamics inside social movements? And which consequences do power dynamics have on movement’s outcomes? How power relations influence the political project in social centers? Performative social movements focus on the means more than the objective but they are not free from power dynamics. This paper analyses how power dynamics operate in social centres in Catalonia. The paper sheds light on the impacts that these dynamics have on the democratic functioning of social centers. It also contributes to identify the problems that hinders their experiments on everyday living.

Keywords: Power dynamics, democracy, social moments, social centers

Nuria Suero Comellas (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Meena Kandiah: Evolutions in Tamil diaspora politics: Exploring post-war organisational dynamics and developments relative to younger generation activists


Following three decades of armed conflict, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. The victory was framed as a successful

counterterrorism operation, yet the GoSL’s military campaign in the Tamil-populated Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka, faces credible allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. As the armed conflict reached its apex, the Tamil diaspora mobilised politically across the globe including the unanticipated participation of younger generation Tamils (YGTs), namely those who were born outside their parents’ country of origin or had settled outside of their ancestral homeland as children. This paper explores transitions in Tamil diaspora politics and addresses how YGT activists have been engaging with and developing intramovement organisational structures in the London Tamil diaspora since the end of the armed conflict. Based on critical ethnographic research and using a conceptual framework derived from social movement studies, the paper explores the intramovement challenges faced by YGT activists, specifically perceptions of ego and rivalry, centralised, hierarchical and undemocratic organisational structures, strategy disputes and processes of social inclusion and exclusion based on generation, caste, and gender. The paper subsequently discusses how YGT activists were developing and utilising a social movement network as a form of “prefigurative politics” to address the challenges faced.

Keywords: Tamil diaspora; intramovement dynamics; prefigurative politics; social movement network; critical ethnography.

Meena Kandiah

Panel 8C

Location: G32; Chair: Aylwyn Walsh

Tim Weldon : Intersectional Heterarchy: Reconceptualizing Power Dynamics in Autonomous Communities

Abstract: Traditional models of understanding power dynamics within social structures have long been dominated by top-down hierarchical models and horizontal ones aspiring to egalitarianism. However, neither fully encapsulates the complex, non-binary nature of power relationships within autonomous communities. In this presentation, I introduce the concept of “Intersectional Heterarchy” as an alternative framework for understanding influence and power dynamics within self-organized collectives and movements, such as the autonomous squatted social center in Prague I spent two years with as a participant observer. The notion of heterarchy suggests a system where diverse, interconnected units share influence in a manner that is flexible and neither top-down nor equitably distributed. Authority within a heterarchy is dynamic, varying by circumstances and tasks, and enables multiple, non-linear and diverse pathways of influence. Intersectionality enunciates these nuances further by considering how individual identities, experiences, and capabilities contribute to power differentials that affect social equity and a smooth circular flow of power. This paradigm acknowledges that influences fluctuate as the diversity of personal attributes and external societal factors invariably shape social interactions and group dynamics within autonomous communities, where any person could initiate or participate in tasks and decisions at any time. This presentation posits that Intersectional Heterarchy is a more fitting way to engage with the complex and fluid interplay of identity, ability, and power within communities governed by principles of autonomy and direct action. Such a framework enriches our understanding of social dynamics by recognizing that varied and shifting power configurations are inherent to communal cooperation. It reframes the discourse, advancing the concept of an informal heterarchical social structure where members navigate fluctuating power landscapes driven by both collective ideals and individual attributes. In doing so, it offers a critical reflection on the practical workings of horizontalism and challenges assumptions regarding power and its distribution within spaces that strive to transcend traditional hierarchical orders.

Keywords: Autonomy, Intersectionality, Heterarchy, Power Dynamics, Autonomous Communities

Tim Weldon (Munster University)

Doo-Hyeong Lee: Boundaries and Interactions Among Actors Within Social Movements: A Case Study of South Korean Candlelight Vigils in 2008 and 2016

Abstract: This paper aims to explore the dynamic interactions among actors within social movements, particularly through an analysis of South Korean cases. Understanding social movements as collective interactions among diverse actors (Favre, 1990), it is crucial to comprehend the relational dynamics that contribute to effective organization. This study employs the concept of the “space of social movements” (Mathieu, 2012). According to this notion, individual actors of the space not only form interdependent relationships, but also relate to external domains such as politics and the economy. Moreover, “capital militant” (Matonti and Poupeau, 2004), which is acquired through political experiences, functions alongside internal rules and practices within the space of social movements. Consequently, the space of social movements exhibits relative autonomy within society. The paper particularly focuses on the engagement of religious and legal circles, which have played a significant role in strengthening the legitimacy and expansion of Korean social movements, during the candlelight vigils for the impeachment of the president in 2016 and the protests against the import of American beef in 2008 which were notable social movements in South Korea. While these circles actively participate in collective activities, they tend to distinguish themselves from other activists as distinct and independent sectors. Through an analysis of approximately 30 interviews and documentary resources, including statements published by movement organizations, this study illustrates how their interactions reflect the motivations of movements, their social positions, and vocational ethics. Additionally, it shows how such boundaries are strategically necessary to protect, expand, and sustain protest activities. The delineation between actors underscores the existence of diverse actors and implies the potential for varied movements. This study seeks to stimulate discussions on the significance of interactor dynamics within social movements. By spotlighting Korean cases, it aims to enrich research diversity in social movements studies.

Keywords: social movement, space of social movements, religious circle, legal circle, candlelight vigils, South Korea

Doo-Hyeong Lee (Université Lumière Lyon 2)

Laura Schleifer: Post-Scarcity Veganarchism

Abstract: At a time when the Capitalist construct of manufactured scarcity is colliding with ecological collapse-induced real material scarcity, how can veganarchism help move us into a post-scarcity future? Ironically, manufactured scarcity and the irrational fear of scarcity has led Capitalist societies to hoard, over-consume, and overproduce to the point where we now face real shortages of life-sustaining natural resources via ecological collapse. A mass societal transition to veganarchism, i.e. the combining of anarchist forms of non-hierarchical self-governance and social organization with a mass transition to veganism, could address scarcity on multiple fronts: through ecological regeneration, the end of manufactured scarcity via hierarchical control of resources, and the healing of psychological drives caused by atomization, disenfranchisement, disempowerment and alienation that push people into productivism and consumerism, and into believing it could never be any other way because our “animal” nature means that without hierarchical systems of control, there would be even more scarcity due to unimpeded “dog-eat dog” competition for resources. Inspired by Murray Bookchin’s classic “Post-Scarcity Anarchism” and the concept of “Veganarchism” proposed by Brian Dominick in his seminal pamphlet “Animal Liberation and Social Revolution”, as well as by historical and contemporary anarchist movements for human, species, and earth liberation, this paper explores how combining anarchist visions of a non-hierarchical, directly democratic, egalitarian, ecological, mutual aid-based communalist society can be combined with a mass transition to plant-based food systems, interspecies sanctuaries for humans and other animals, an end to the legal and social construct of “ownership” of other individuals (of any species) or nature, and an overall transformation of our relationships with both our fellow humans and our fellow animals can move us from the current scarcity paradigm–of time, energy, ideas, imagination, conviction, purpose, and real psychological and material needs–to one of abundance in all of the above.

Keywords: veganism, anarchism, degrowth, animals, social ecology, communalism

Laura Schleifer (Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Institute for Social Ecology, Promoting Enduring Peace)


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