Transposable Protest Legacies

By Cole Carnesecca

While the Umbrella Movement may ultimately prove lacking in results, it certainly has not lacked in drama. Part of that drama comes from the attempt to locate the Hong Kong protests into a broader legacy of social movements. The image of young Hong Kong students calling for expanded democratic rights drew immediate comparisons to the 1989 Tiananmen protests and the “Occupy Central” part of the movement seemed a clear nod to the Occupy Movement in the United States. Both of these links reflect the transferable nature of protest legacies and the importance of legacy mobility for contemporary protests in China (and beyond). Yet protest legacies can mean very different things to activists and their targets, giving shape to how a movement is understood culturally and structurally, as well as how activists and state agents act. To illustrate this point, I will consider four movement legacies that serve as significant sources for the Umbrella Revolution and their implications for how the Hong Kong protests have unfolded. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Movements in East and Southeast Asia

How Hong Kong’s Government “Constructed” the Umbrella Movement

By Victoria Tin-Bor Hui

A Hong Kong student leader, Yvonne Leung, said, “The Hong Kong government needs to take lots of responsibility for what’s going on.”1 She was referring to the government’s responsibility to offer genuine universal suffrage and end the impasse.

Unknown to Leung, her statement echoes the state-centered theory of contention — that it is state policies that inadvertently “construct”2 movements. The Umbrella Movement is no different. At every step of the way, the Chief Executive C. Y. Leung’s policies have backfired, first giving rise to the movement and then fueling it for two months and beyond. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Movements in East and Southeast Asia

Social Movements and the Political Polarization of South Korean Society

By Paul Y. Chang

For all the dramatic headlines about the debilitating costs associated with the polarization of American politics in recent years, the inability of political parties and factions to engage in constructive debate and dialogue is arguably a greater problem in newer democracies. After all, when was the last time we saw congressional debates escalate into physical fighting between American legislatures on the floor of the Senate or House of Representatives? While this might be unimaginable in America it is, unfortunately, a relatively common occurrence in institutional politics in some Asian nations. In 2012, for example, members of the Thai parliament rushed the House Speaker, Somsak Kiatsuranont, who had attempted to force a discussion of a controversial “reconciliation bill” that Democrat MPs rejected. Between the grabbing and pulling, and under the swirl of documents flying through the air, Somsak Kiatsuranont hurried off the parliament floor behind the protection of security forces (Fredrickson 2012). This and other examples of physical fighting amongst legislators (e.g. Taiwan parliament fighting in 2004, 2006, 2007) are perhaps the clearest and most visible manifestation of polarization in institutional politics. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Movements in East and Southeast Asia

A Revolt against Chinese Intellectualism: Understanding the Protest Script in Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement of 2014

By Ming-sho Ho

Karl Marx’s famous saying that great historical events happen twice, first as tragedy and later as farce, originated from an observation of the futile attempt of French leftwing revolutionaries of 1848 to ape their predecessors in the revolution of 1789. Marx apparently considered it a paradox that a history-making intention involved borrowing “names, battle slogans, and costumes” from the past. Thus he implied a truly successful revolution would have to proceed without the nostalgic attachment to the previous protest script. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Movements in East and Southeast Asia

Diaspora Mobilization in Democracy Struggles

From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Filipinos in the U.S. and the Netherlands became key players in international efforts to overthrow an oppressive regime, institute democracy, and shape the direction of the Philippine political system. When Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, Filipino student and political organizations in the U.S. immediately convened in San Francisco and launched a national campaign to oppose authoritarian rule. In less than a year, the movement spread as new organizations of diverse political orientations emerged and took root in long-established Filipino communities in the U.S. Activists focused on lobbying Congress for the withdrawal of military and economic support to Marcos and on politicizing Filipino national and cultural events. In the Netherlands, the movement was launched later. In response to Marcos’s intensified repression, Filipino exile and solidarity organizations in Europe organized the Permanent People’s Tribunal on the Philippines in 1980 in Belgium. The purpose of the tribunal was to expose and isolate the Marcos dictatorship and recognize the national liberation movements as the genuine representatives of the Filipino people. It also brought the Philippine revolutionary struggle to the community of Filipino temporary workers in the Netherlands. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Emerging Stars in Social Movement Research, Essay Dialogues

Emerging Stars in Social Movement Research

Each spring, in conjunction with the John D. McCarthy Award celebration, the Center for the Study of Social Movements at Notre Dame hosts the Young Scholars in Social Movements conference. Conference participants come from around the world and include some of the brightest graduate students and assistant professors studying activism, social movements, and political conflict. Our team of Contributing Editors—the folks who write the blog’s Daily Disruption posts—is primarily drawn from this pool of talented young scholars. We are taking the next several weeks to shine the spotlight on these emerging stars and on their research.  New ideas often (perhaps usually) come from younger generations. So, in many ways, these posts represent where the field is headed and should be interesting to anyone seeking to better understand processes of activism and social change.

Many thanks to the Contributing Editors listed below—for allowing us to feature their work in the coming weeks, and for their contributions to the Daily Disruption. We plan to post a new essay from these authors every few days during the months of October and November, so check back often. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Emerging Stars in Social Movement Research, Essay Dialogues

From French Resistance to hashtag activism: How our obsession with the extraordinary masks the power of the ordinary

I’ve become obsessed with “Un village français.” No, it’s not an idyllic town in Provence. It’s a French television series set during World War II. The show follows the residents of one French town as they navigate the German occupation.

"Un village français" is a French television series set during the German occupation during World War II.

“Un village français” is a French television series set during the German occupation during World War II.

I tell myself that I am already into the 6th season (thank you, Netflix) because it helps me learn the language. I have just started a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, based at the Toulouse School of Economics. And I do need to brush up on my French. But admittedly, I am fascinated with the drama and romance of the TV series.

But I have also realized that the show mirrors the way I approach my research on social movements, social media, and social class. It focuses not on the big heroes, or iconic giants of history, but on the average people. And rather than dwelling on extraordinary events like big battles involving thousands of troops, the shows unfolds slowly as we watch these regular people struggle with everyday circumstances.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Emerging Stars in Social Movement Research, Essay Dialogues