skip to content
 

Key Issues and Texts: Power and Protest

Seminar 1: The Rise of Social Movements in Latin America (Grace Livingstone)

This session considers the rise of social movements and discusses what constitutes a social movement. It provides an introduction to social movement theory.   It considers the relationship between social movements and the state, exploring the concepts of autonomy, co-option and participation.  It looks at the impact of military repression and neoliberal restructuring on the Latin American Left and class-based organizations. It looks at the emergence of grass-roots urban and rural social movements in the 1980s and 1990s and considers how far these represented a new form of organizing.  It considers social movements based on class, gender, race, culture and community.

Key issues

  • Horizontalidad
  • New social movements
  • Autonomy
  • Participation

Key texts

  • Charles Tilly and Lesley Wood, Social Movements 1768-2012 (London: Routledge, 2016), Chapter 1 ‘Social Movements as Politics’. (Moodle)
  • Jeff Goodwin, James Jasper & Francesa Polletta, ‘Emotional Dimensions of Social Movements’ in David A. Snow, Sara A. Soule and Hanspeter Kriesi (eds.),  The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007),  pp.413-433. (online via i-discover)
  • Ana Dinerstein, The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organising Hope, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Chapter 1, pp. 1-27 (Moodle)
  • Dennis Rodgers, Jo Beall and Ravi Kanbar, ‘Rethinking the Latin American City’, in Dennis Rodgers, Jo Beall and Ravi Kanbar (eds.), Latin American Urban Development into the 21st Century, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 3-37(Moodle)

Please read about a Latin American social movement of your choice and be ready to talk about it for two minutes.

Bibliography

 

Seminar 2: Social Protest in Latin America (Grace Livingstone)

This session looks at social movements in historical context.  It discusses forms of social protest and social mobilisation in the twentieth century.  It considers populism, the Cuban Revolution, guerrilla movements, resistance to military dictatorships and human rights organisations.  It considers the history of state co-option and repression of labour and social movements.   It assesses why guerrilla movements failed and looks at  Che Guevara’s theory of foquismo.   It shows how the practices and politics of contemporary social movements are in constant dialogue with the experiences of the past.

Key words  

  • Populism
  • State co-option
  • guerrilla movements
  • foquismo
  • military regimes

Key texts

  • Che Guevara  ‘The Essence of Guerrilla Struggle (1960)’ and Guerrilla Warfare: A Method (1963) in David Deutschmann (ed.), Che Guevara Reader, (Melbourne: Ocean Press, 2003), pp. 64-84. (Moodle)
  • Robert H. Dix, ‘Why Revolutions Succeed and Fail’, Polity, Vol. 16, No.3 (Spring, 1984), pp. 423-446 (Moodle)
  • Marysa Navarro, ‘The Personal is Political: Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo’ in Susan Eckstein (ed.), Power and Popular Protest: Latin American Social Movements,  (Berkley: University of California Press, 1989), pp.241-259 (Moodle)

Bibliography

 

Seminar 3: Social Movements and the new left governments: popular participation, neo-extractivism and indigenous protest (Grace Livingstone)

This session looks at the relationship between social movements and governments of both the left and right.  It considers the  left-wing and centre-left governments of Venezuela, Argentina, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil in the 2000s and studies examples of ‘popular participation’, exploring  the concepts of  autonomy and co-option. We consider the political-economic strategy of the new ‘Pink tide’ governments, their reliance on the extractive industries and the export of primary products, which at times led to conflict with indigenous and rural social movements.   We then look at the response of social movements to the new right wing governments that have taken power in Brazil, Chile, Argentina and elsewhere, and discusses the ways social activism changes when movements lack allies within institutions of power.  We consider whether social movements based on gender, race and culture have different relationships with left and rightwing governments.

Key issues

  • Neo-populism
  • Participation
  • Neo-extractivism
  • Indigeneity
  • The new right

Key texts

  • Richard Stahler-Sholk, Harry E. Vanden,. & Marc Becker (eds.), Rethinking Latin American Social Movements, (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), Introduction, pp.1-19 (Moodle)
  • Marcy Rein & Clifton Ross, (eds), Until the Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements, (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2013) (Kindle £4.99) one copy with CLAS Librarian
  • Anthony Bebbington, Social Conflict, Economic Development and Extractive Industry: Evidence from South America, (London: Routledge, 2012), Chapter 1, pp. 3-27 (Moodle)

Bibliography

 

Seminar 4: Transnational Activism (Grace Livingstone)

This session considers transnational activism and cross border solidarity.   Should Latin American social movements seek international allies in order to achieve their aims?   Can nationally-based protest movements use the international institutions to further their cause?  How can activists in the global North support movements in the South?   What are the power imbalances when well-funded NGOs and activist groups in the global North forge alliances with movements in the global South?  How do international interventions affect political and social outcomes in Latin America?   We consider theories of transnational activism and examine advocacy networks and coalition building.  We consider the rise of multilateral rights institutions and international NGOS.  In an era of globalisation and new technology, we consider the potential and pitfalls of transnational activism.

Key Issues

  • Transnational activism
  • Cross-border solidarity
  • International human rights institutions
  • International NGOs
  • North-South power imbalances

Key texts

  • Keck, Margaret and Sikkink, Kathryn, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics, (New York: Cornell University Press, 1998), Chapter 1, pp.1-38 (iDiscover online)
  • Lucero, José Antonio, ‘Seeing Like an International NGO: Encountering Development and Indigenous Politics in the Andes’  in Eduardo Silva, ed. Transnational Activism and National Movements in Latin America. Bridging the Divide (Routledge, 2013). (Moodle)
  • Chandra Talpade Mohanty , ‘”Under Western Eyes” Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through Anticapitalist Struggles’, Signs, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Winter 2003), pp. 499-535 (Moodle)

Bibliography

 

Seminar 5: Climate Crisis and Environmental Protest in Latin America (Rodrigo Arteaga Rojas) 

In the global North, social movements responding to climate crisis and environmental conflict have gathered momentum in recent years.  These are epitomized by the youth climate strikes led by Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, ZAD, among others, However, debates and tensions within these movements have revealed the difficulties of incorporating “environmental justice” and non-Western experiences of resistance from the global South into the imaginaries and discourses of the international climate movement.

This session examines the long tradition of socio-environmental protest in Latin America from an historical and intersectional perspective. By mobilizing concepts from decolonial ecology, eco-feminist and postdevelopment theory, we consider the specific political trajectories and praxis that have shaped Latin American social movements.  We examine their distinctive responses to the extraction of natural resources and threats to biodiversity and territory. We will put these experiences into comparative perspective and place them in dialogue with the international climate movement. In what ways have these "peripheral" protest trajectories been mobilized, or not, through the revival of the climate crisis in recent years and in a digital world? What lessons can Latin American environmental movements teach us in terms of bridging the divide between technocratic sustainability and utopian radicalism?

Key issues

  • eco-territorial turn
  • decolonial ecology
  • ecofeminism
  • postdevelopment

Key Texts

  • Svampa, M. (2019). Neo-extractivism in Latin America: Socio-environmental conflicts, the territorial turn, and new political narratives (Cambridge elements. Elements in politics and society in Latin America). [Chapter 2, online access]
  • Malcolm Ferdinand [interview by Aurore Chaillou and Louise Roblin], “Why We Need a Decolonial Ecology”, Green European Journal, 4th June 2020.
  • Escobar, A. (2020). Pluriversal politics : The real and the possible, Durham: Duke University Press, 2020. [Chapter 6: Post-Development @25. Online access]

Bibliography

 

Seminar 6: The Media and Social Movements (Rodrigo Arteaga Rojas

This session examines whether the interplay between different media configurations, journalistic practices and protest tactics has improved or limited the capacity of social movements for political action.  We consider several Latin American case studies, with a focus on environmental conflict.  We focus on power relations between social movements, the media and the state. Can movement tactics influence media coverage and framing? Can journalists change their practices in relation to covering conflict and dissent? Can new media create durable politicization, leadership and representation by itself?

In trying to answer these questions, we aim to go beyond the dichotomies of ‘censorship’ vs ‘freedom of expression’, ‘heroes’ vs ‘hacks’, or ‘journalism’ vs ‘activism’. Instead we explore the extent to which these media strategies play key roles in logistical coordination, symbolic power and participation, as well as the formation of collective identities and alliances within social movements.

Seminar preparation: The seminar relies heavily on the collective discussion of two key readings.

Key issues

  • Mediation
  • Mediatization
  • Social Media
  • Protest systems
  • Symbolic power

Key texts 

  • Waisbord, Silvio. 2013. “Contesting Extractivism: Media and Environmental Citizenship in Latin America”. In Libby Lester & Brett Hutchins, eds. Environmental Conflict and the Media. New York: Peter Lang. (Moodle)
  •  --------------------- 2012. "Political Communication in Latin America." In The SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, 437-449. London: SAGE. (Moodle)

Bibliography