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Key Issues and Texts: Power and Protest

Seminar 1: Social Protest in Latin America (GL)

This session 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 considers the impact of the military dictatorships on the Latin American left, and discusses 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
  • Juan Grigera, ‘Populism in Latin America: Old and New Populisms in Argentina and Brazil’, International Political Science Review, 2017, Vol.38 (4), pp.441-455

Bibliography

Seminar 2: The Rise of Social Movements in Latin America (GL)

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.

Key issues

  • Horizontalidad
  • New social movements
  • Autonomy
  • Participation

Key texts

  • 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 Twentieth Century, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 3-37. (Moodle)
  • Charles Tilly and Lesley Wood, Social Movements 1768-2012 (London: Routledge, 2016), Chapter 1 ‘Social Movements as Politics’.

Bibliography

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

This session looks at the left-wing and centre-left governments of Venezuela, Argentina, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil in the 2000s.   We discuss the relationship between social movements and these governments and look in detail at examples of ‘popular participation’, exploring once again 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, and discuss the circumstances in which extractive activities can lead to conflict with indigenous and rural social movements.

Key issues

  • Neo-populism
  • Participation
  • Autonomy
  • Neo-extractivism
  • Indigeneity

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
  • Marcy Rein & Clifton Ross, (eds), Until the Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements, (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2013)
  • Anthony Bebbington, Social Conflict, Economic Development and Extractive Industry: Evidence from South America, (London: Routledge, 2012), Chapter 1, pp. 3-27

Bibliography

Seminar 4: Trade Unions and Labour Movements (PML)

This session explores the role of trade unions, and of labour movements more generally, in Latin American politics. It discusses the different forms of labour movements during recent decades in Latin America and their relation to social movements. It explores how trade unions, unemployed workers’ movements, factory occupations and social movements have related to each other, to the state and to the parties in power.

It addresses how the structure of trade unions has shifted in Latin America and how this has affected labour struggles, reviewing the corporatist model of the middle of the 20th century, the rise of independent unions around the 1980s, and the incorporation or collaboration between trade unions and left-of-centre governments in the 2000s.  It also considers the role that labour movements have played in party politics and in contesting or supporting regime-change. To this extent, it focuses on how organised labour related to the region’s dictatorships, participated in the re-democratisation of the region around the 1980s, and contested neoliberal governments in the 1990s.

Key issues

  • Independent and corporatist trade unions
  • Trade unions and the state
  • Labour movements, democracy and party politics
  • Unemployed workers’ movements
  • Labour and social movements

Key texts

Bibliography

Seminar 5: Social Movements, the State and Public Services (NVL)

This session considers social movements’ interactions with the state by focusing on public services. What role does social mobilisation play in improving urban infrastructure? It focuses on the so-called public utilities, or network industries, and their expanding importance for urban life in highly urbanised societies. Firstly, explains the link between social and political mobilisation and transport infrastructure, both via conflict and emergence of emblematic investment projects by governments in the region. Secondly, waste management is similarly discussed, in particular in relation to the role of social mobilisation and informality in recycling. The overall issue that this session wants to tackle is the role that public utilities, network infrastructures and continuous services have in contemporary Latin American social mobilisation and state sovereignty.

Key issues

  • urbanisation
  • infrastructure
  • neoliberal reforms
  • urban social movements
  • public services

Key texts

  • Harrington, M. (1967). The Social-Industrial complex. Ocassional Papers From the League for Industrial Democracy, 1-16.
  • Koch, Freddy. 2012. “La Paz-El Alto: El Viejo Sueño De Tener Un Teleférico.” In Movilidad Urbana & Pobreza, edited by Julio Davila, 177–85. University College London.
  • O’Hare P. (2018) Mobilizing Concealment and Spectacle Among Uruguay’s Waste-Pickers. In: Atzeni M., Ness I. (eds) Global Perspectives on Workers' and Labour Organizations. Work, Organization, and Employment. Springer.
  • Valenzuela-Levi, Nicolás. 2018. “Igualmente libres en la ciudad”. Ensayo ganador Concurso Internacional de Ensayos Breves sobre el Futuro de la Igualdad en América Latina y el Caribe, Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), Le Monde Diplomatique, y Nodal.

Bibliography

Seminar 6: The Media and Social Movements (RAR)

This class examines how different media practices and experimentation performed by social movements have enabled or limited their capacity for political action and protest. Discussion will concentrate on case studies in Latin America, with a focus on Mexico.  A special interest will be placed on power relations between social movements, the media and the state. In doing so, we will try to go beyond narratives of ‘censorship’ vs ‘freedom of expression’, or of ‘manipulation’ and ‘propaganda’. Instead we will explore to what extent these media strategies play key roles in logistical coordination, symbolic power, and engagement and participation, as well as collective identity formation and alliances within social movements.

Seminar preparation:

Each student should identify an instance of media use by a social movement or a state in Latin America and should analyse it using some of the key concepts and readings. 

Sample example:

Key issues

  • Media practices
  • Protest systems
  • Symbolic power

Key texts

  • Estrada-Saavedra, M, 2012. Vox populi. La difusión mediática de la Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca, in Marco Estrada (coord.), Protesta social. Tres estudios sobre movimientos sociales en clave de la teoría de los sistemas sociales de Niklas Luhmann, México, El Colegio de México, 2012. (MOODLE)
  • Castells, M., 2013. Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age, John Wiley & Sons (Introduction).
  • Diamond, L., 2010. Liberation Technology. Journal of Democracy, 21(3), pp.69–83.
  • McPherson, E., Forthcoming. Social Media and Human Rights Advocacy. In H. Tumber & S. Waisbord, eds. The Routledge Companion to Media and Human Rights. London: Routledge.

Bibliography