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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)
  • David Snow, ‘Framing Processes, Ideology, and Discursive Fields’ in David A. Snow, Sara A. Soule and Hanspeter Kriesi (eds.),  The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004),  pp.380-413.
  • Ana Dinerstein, The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organising Hope, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Chapter 1, pp. 1-27 (Moodle)
  • R. Aída Hernández Castillo, ‘Indigeneity as a Field of Power: Multiculturalism and Indigenous Identities in Political Struggles’ in Margaret Wetherell & Chandra Talpade Mohanty (eds), The Sage Handbook of Identities (SAGE: London, 2010) (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 Twentieth Century 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 
  • 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 the governments of the left.  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.   Today, we are witnessing a new leftward swing in the region.  Mass protests led to the writing of a new constitution in Chile, and the election of a former student leader as president, while Colombia saw mass protests and the election of its first ever left-wing president. Centre-left governments have also returned to power in Argentina and Bolivia, and Lula may be re-elected in Brazil.  Will the left follow the same extractivist strategies of the past?  Are we seeing the rise of a new greener, more feminist left, informed by social movements, that contrasts with a more populist-authoritarian parties wedded to old developmentalist models? 

Key issues

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

Key texts

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 
  • 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. 499-53 (Moodle)

Bibliography

 

Seminar 5: Climate Crisis and Environmental Protest in Latin America (Felipe Krause) 

This session examines the origins, ideologies and impacts of the environmental movement in Latin America. First, we provide context by considering the rich and contentious – and often deadly – history of Latin American socio-environmental movements. This requires understanding some of the central preoccupations of the Latin American developmental state, as well the various forms of resistance that have ensued. Second, beyond the conflicts produced by extractivism, we consider the politics of industrialisation, resource management and energy transition. Specifically, by investigating the tensions between the pressures of industrial development and the global debates on climate change, we begin to form an outline of the current phase of the environmental movement in the region. In what ways have these “peripheral” protest trajectories been mobilised through the global politics of climate change and the drive for a green transition? In a context of increasing technological and regulatory complexity, what do Latin American environmentalists now aim to achieve and where have they been successful?

Key issues

  • History of Latin American environmentalism
  • Industrialisation, resource management and energy transition
  • Latin America and the global climate change agenda

Key Texts

  • Hochstetler, K. & Keck, M. (2007): Greening Brazil: Environmental Activism in State and Society. Durham: Duke University Press. (Introduction)
  • Hess, D. (2018). The anti-dam movement in Brazil: expertise and design conflicts in an industrial transition movementTapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society, 1:1, 256-279
  • Mejía-Montero, A., Alonso-Serna, L., & Altamirano-Allende, C. (2020). The role of social resistance in shaping energy transition policy in Mexico: The case of wind power in Oaxaca. In Guimarães, L. (ed.) The regulation and policy of Latin American energy transitions (pp. 303-318). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Bibliography

 

Seminar 6: Media and Social Movements (Felipe Krause)

This session examines the ways in which movements are constrained by but also strategically engage with the media. Traditionally, this is a minor field in social movement scholarship, with the relatively few existing studies focusing on what might be termed the “media opportunity structure,” or the set of exogenous constraints generated by the traditional media which movements must navigate in order to achieve goals. This approach is useful to a certain extent, as it helps to identify how and when social movements are assisted or limited by the media while pursuing their policy goals. More recently, however, with the radical disruption of the media landscape unleashed by social media platforms – in addition to a wide variety of independent online media outlets – the focus has shifted toward the ways in which movements can alter the public discourse through direct and strategic use of the media. This leads to classic interrogations surrounding movement strategy vs. structural constraints, but also to new questions about online identity, privacy and contentious methods such as hacking and leaking. It also raises questions concerning the divide between digital haves and have-nots. Does the spread of social media tools among activists challenge or merely reproduce existing inequalities? To what extent can these tools level the playing field between civil society voices from the developing world vs. the advanced capitalist economies?

Key issues

  • Media opportunity structure: traditional vs. disruptive media
  • Social media, activism and “hacktivism”
  • Social movements and the digital divide

Key texts 

  • della Porta, D. & Pavan, E. (2018). “The nexus between media, communication and social movements: Looking back and the way forward” in The Routledge Companion To Media And Activism. London: Routledge.
  • Mattoni, A. & Odilla, F. (2021). Digital Media, Activism, and Social Movements' Outcomes in the Policy Arena. The Case of Two Anti-Corruption Mobilizations in Brazil. Partecipazione & Conflitto 14 (3): 1127-1150.
  • Ochigame, R. & Holston, J. (2016). Filtering dissent: social media and land struggles in Brazil. New Left Review 99: 85-108.

Bibliography