Author Archives: Lisa Leitz

About Lisa Leitz

Lisa Leitz is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Hendrix College. Her research focuses on the role of identity and culture in attempts to make social change and address injustice. Her research on the involvement of veterans and military families in the recent American antiwar movement, Fighting for Peace, is forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press’s Social Movements, Protest and Contention Series. An aspect of this work can be found in her 2011 Social Problems article. She has also published about emotions in activism around infanticide, feminist organizing in the Middle East, gendered components of the American military, and physical fighting among middle school girls.

Queer Weddings: Grammy 2014

By: Lisa Leitz

During the January 26, 2014 Grammy Awards Queen Latifah presided over 33 couples that wed during Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert’s “Same Love” mashup with Madonna’s “Open Your Heart.” Recent posts have critiqued the heteronormativity in both CBS news coverage and the Grammy focus on the straight stars in the event and its de-politicization of the song.

While others have analyzed the political message of the song to conclude it as barely more than straight “rappers” heralding the assimilationist agenda of HRC, I look around my current rural state of Arkansas and can’t help but wonder- can we understand the Grammy Weddings to be a political tactic or are they merely feeding the pocketbooks of already-mega-rich pop stars? Continue reading

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New Documentary-THE ACTIVISTS: War, Peace, and Politics in the Streets

A new film by Melody Weinstein, Michael T. Heaney, and Marco Roldán explores what turns ordinary citizens into activists.  Through interviews and ethnographic-style coverage of the peace movement between June 2008 and March 2010, the film explores the risks, process, and joys of activism. Heaney brings his years of social movement scholarship on the peace movement, on display in an earlier Essay Dialogue, to the screen in this impressive documentary.

I was immediately drawn into the film as it opens with shots of veterans and miltiary famileis I interviewed in the peace movement, including Gold Star Father Carlos Arredondo, Retired Let. Col. Anne Wright, and Iraq veteran Geoff Millard. Although Americans with military connections get a decent share of coverage, the film covers the wide spectrum of activists invovled in the many peace movement organizations. Interspersed with the new are snipets of classic peace movement speeches from Martin Luther King, Jr. and songs such as “War!”

The film is available for a limited time streaming online from Melofilms on Vimeo.

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“I need a hero!”: Superheroes and Protest

The 40th anniversary cover of Ms. Magazine shows Wonder Woman swooping in to help protesters stop the “war on women.” This cover resembles their original cover in ’72 when the Amazon “warrior princess” was rushing to bring peace and justice to the world[i], but this time there are mortals (albeit all women) who are standing up and taking action, too. Then, as now, Diana’s powers as well as her lasso of truth[ii] could come in handy in the movement for equality.

This cover reveals the importance of imagination and the desire for a powerful and (politically) attractive leader in protest movements. Activists have called upon the superhero imagination when dancing in Chile for educational reform or when Occupy Wall Street protestors created “Unemployment Man.” As Peter Drier pointed out in his essay on teaching about social movements, activism requires a bit of dreaming. If activists couldn’t imagine a better future, there would be no goals to strive for except policies and cultural aspects we’ve seen before. If only we had a modern day Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi endowed with magical abilities to help us accomplish those dreams.

I’d love to hear about the role of other superheroes in protest or see fan fiction in which superheroes interact with movements, so join Ms. and share others or your own lofty dreams to magically get success for a movement.


[i] It is notable that the Ms. cover of 2012 focuses narrowly on feminist causes, despite the U.S. entering its eleventh year of war in Afghanistan and continuing economic and racial inequality.

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Olympic Sized Protest

The Olympic Committee may stifle protest but it was alive and well in the 2012 London Games’ Opening Ceremony. See this article in Sports Illustrated for more on the statements made and the Olympic history of protest (excluding those made by the PLO in the murder of Israeli athletes in 1972). Political opinions were expressed last night in the pageantry about national healthcare, women’s suffrage, global cooperation, peace/war, internet repression & access, labor/capitalism, and more.

2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremony

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Outcomes & Continuing Challenges: A Military Wedding after the Repeal of DADT

Will and Erwynn Wedding Reception

A recent, tear-inducing article in Slate covers an important aspect of social movements and their outcomes, particularly the important roles they play in changing institutional policies/structures and people’s lives. It covers the first gay wedding on a military installation and highlights the important role of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) in this historic moment.

Although the article doesn’t describe these trail-blazing men as activists per se, in the article you see glimpses of their connection to the wider movement for openness and equality in the military. Continue reading

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Indivisible?: Money & Politics

photo by author

Want a side of bland, vague politics with your coffee? Then please visit Starbucks!! You can also get a free cup of coffee today (July 4) if you tweet the hashtag “indivisible.” (Something tells me your local barista won’t know whether you actually tweeted it…) While editing this morning I was introduced to their new campaign to stop the partisan bickering via their bulletin board and their bags of coffee.

No stranger to politics, this is Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s latest attempt to enter into politics in an uncontroversial way. He made statements and has done some work to get corporate leaders to end their financial contributions to politics and create jobs in the United States. In an interview with CNN he described some success in this work.

photo by authorWhat do you think about this latest foray into politics by a large corporation? Is it a way to sell more (as Jim Edwards suggests) and tap into public sentiments about political topics, ala Miley Cirus’s Occupy song?

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Opposition without (Much) Action: Iraq the Later Years

By Lisa Leitz

The number and scale of national protests aimed at ending the Iraq War were significantly smaller beginning in 2007 than they had been in the earlier years and lead-up to the war (see Heaney & Rojas’s 2011).

THE PARTISAN DYNAMICS OF CONTENTION. Mobilization 16(1): 45-64

While many in the peace movement remained active as the Iraq War continued for five more years, their political actions were much more fragmented and radicalized from 2007 onward. The diminishing size and scope of Iraq War protests contradict public opinion because it was not as though the war became popular among Americans in its later years. Instead while public opinion about the Iraq War became more negative, large political actions against the war decreased. In this essay, I examine how civilians’ distance from the Iraq War contributed to this contradiction. Continue reading

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