Movements In East and Southeast Asia

For December, our dialogue focuses on movements in East and Southeast Asia. The Occupy Central and Umbrella movements in Hong Kong have attracted the attention not only of social movement scholars, but of the global media as well. As the world watches the movement engage the governments of Hong Kong and China, we want to take a step back and reflect on the work the movement has done to bring it to this point, as well as on movements in broader East and Southeast Asia. Keeping in mind that movements emerge in particular contexts, we asked our contributors to focus on the ways that movements in the region have particular challenges and tools. We consider such questions such as: How have technology, the Internet, and broader media played a facilitating or suppressing role in Southeast Asian movements? How have the traditional religions of the region, and the imported religions of colonizing powers, influenced movements there? How has the emergence of China as a world power affected movements in the region? To what extent have international forces, transnational movements, and diffusion played a role in supporting movements in the region? What have movements in the region taught us about repression and authoritarian states? Thank you to all of our contributors for their submissions, below is a list of their essays.

Round 1
Andrew Junker, University of Chicago (essay)
Cole Carnesecca, University of Notre Dame (essay)
Ming-sho Ho, National Taiwan University (essay)
Setsuko Matsuzawa, The College of Wooster (essay)
Victoria Tin-Bor Hui, University of Notre Dame (essay)
Paul Y. Chang, Harvard University, (essay)

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Dan Myers

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Talking Tactics for the HK Umbrella Movement?

By Andrew Junker

The Umbrella Movement and Occupy Central with Love and Peace face new challenges now that the occupation seems to have reached its conclusion. First among the challenges is, what to do next? How to keep the movement going in the absence of the tactic that made it a movement at all? I will speak to this issue from the perspective of my research on two other Chinese protest movements that flourished during direct and dramatic confrontations with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and then later faced the dilemma of how to keep each movement going after confrontation ended. These two movements are the Chinese democracy movement of 1989, and especially its diaspora counterpart that mobilized after June 4th, and the religious group Falun Gong, which also mobilized outside of mainland China after homeland repression drove supporters underground. From these two cases, I draw the conclusion that unless Umbrella activists depart from the historically specific tactical repertoire of Chinese democracy activism, the uprising may go the way of June 4th: a wonderful flash in the pan of liberal spirit but ultimately a failure. Continue reading

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Klan Activism, Political Polarization, and Party Alignment in Southern Counties

We want to highlight that Rory McVeigh, one of Mobilizing Ideas’ Editors in Chief, wrote a post for the London School of Economics blog on American Politics and Policy about Ku Klux Klan activism and voting in Southern counties.

Motivated by the questions about whether social movement activism can bring about change, the research shows that counties that experienced Klan activism in the 60s also show a higher percentage increase in Republican voting from 1960 to 2000, leading to an underrepresentation of the Democratic Party in Southern counties today.

You can read his post here.

His blog post is based on his ASR paper “Political Polarization as a Social Movement Outcome: 1960s Klan Activism and Its Enduring Impact on Political Realignment in Southern Counties, 1960 to 2000” with David Cunningham and Justin Farrell.

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Regimes and Movements: Thoughts on Contentious Politics and the Arab Spring

In this essay, I aim to reflect on two ongoing discussions concerning the so-called Arab Spring. The first discussion is taking place among several academics who study the politics of the Middle East. This discussion started after the start of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 and concerns a presumed conflict over whether to prioritize the study of regimes or movements. The second discussion is taking place among scholars of social movements in the U.S. about the benefits of movement-centered vs. institutional-centered analysis of movements. Both discussions are taking place for different reasons and perhaps in different academic spheres. The first was motivated by the need to question the politics and the priorities of the scholarship concerning the study of Middle East politics during and after the Arab Spring. But the main drive of the second discussion was the question of how and why movements matter. Although the parallelism in the two discussions is interesting, my aim in this essay is not to compare or analyze these differences (which is an important research question in itself). I realized that one common theme in the two discussions is worth commenting on  here: the relationship between regimes and movements. Continue reading

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How Social Movements Die: A Review

Out this month is Christian Davenport’s book on movement demobilization titled How Social Movements Die, published by Cambridge University Press. In this theoretically-informative and conceptually-rich analysis of the birth and death of the Republic of New Africa (sometimes “Afrika”), a Black nationalist movement that emerged out of Detroit in the late 1960s, Davenport demonstrates how state-sponsored repression and internal movement dynamics interact and combine to bring about a movement’s demise. The book comes highly recommended, for reasons I outline below.

HSMD Book cover

The RNA was founded with four primary goals in mind: territorial autonomy in southern states, reparations for slavery, a separate governance structure, and the democratic participation of African Americans on matters of policy within these liberated territories. The movement relied on mainstream, nonviolent tactics, but also promoted militancy and produced an armed wing.  Regardless of any outside intervention, the RNA was likely destined for dissolution because of the mismatch between its ambitious aims and its limited capabilities. However, what Davenport is able to demonstrate is how state-sponsored repression exacerbated the movement’s weaknesses and to show why it dissolved when it did. Continue reading

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The Civil Rights Movement, Version 2.0, Hits College Campus Crosswalks

Mass protests about civil rights and dissatisfaction with our current racialized system of mass incarceration (for a great resource see Alexander’s The New Jim Crow) are arising all over the country.  Hamilton College is no exception. See here how a student sponsored protest unfolded through a series of phases.

Stage 1: The Preparation

Students confided on Tuesday they were planning a walk-out of classes on Thursday at 2:00. But they deliberately did not inform most faculty.

Stage 2: The Die-In

Students and some faculty stage a die-in on the school’s crosswalk in the center of campus.

diein

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Environmental Movements in China and Their Transnational Dimensions

By Setsuko Matsuzawa

During the last quarter century, the Chinese state has been successful in repressing specific types of social movements; those which it considers to be serious threats to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime. Major examples of such repression include the 1999 Falun Gong persecution and the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. Even during the period leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics the Chinese government maintained its repressive stance, despite TAN (Transnational Advocacy Network) pressures, against domestic protests in the Tibet and Xinjiang autonomous regions by conducting a crackdown and media blackout, among other measures. Continue reading

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