Author Archives: Mobilizing Ideas

Why Post-Election Protests Persist in Belarus

By Olena Nikolayenko

Over the past month, Belarus has been rocked by some of the largest post-election rallies since the collapse of communism. Despite state repression, anti-government protests have shown no signs of fading in the former Soviet republic, located between Poland on the one hand and Russia on the other. This surge in mass mobilization caught many observers of local politics off guard because Alyaksandar Lukashenka, a former head of a collective farm, has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1994 and has never encountered such a high level of resistance to the regime. A configuration of five factors explains why protests persist in the autocracy.

First, consistent with prior research on electoral revolutions, electoral fraud was a catalyst for the onset of mass protests in August 2020. The presidential elections turned into a battle between the incumbent president and a political novice. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya registered as a presidential candidate after her spouse, a popular blogger, had been jailed and denied a chance to run for presidency. The Central Election Commission announced that Lukashenka was reelected for the sixth term in office, with 80 percent of the vote. According to the official results, Tsikhanovskaya received 10 percent of the popular vote. However, online opinion polls, independent election observation reports, and numerous eyewitness accounts clearly indicated that the overwhelming majority of the electorate voted for Tsikhanovskaya.

Public outrage over sadistic police beating of peaceful protesters and torture of citizens in detention centers further fueled civil resistance. My research on the 2013-2014 Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine shows that the defense of human dignity was pivotal to mass mobilization against the regime. Similarly, thousands of Belarusians poured into the streets to demand the government’s respect of human dignity and the provision of political freedoms.

Second, the development of a horizontal organization structure was vital to the survival of the protest movement. In the absence of formal movement leaders, ordinary citizens relied upon informal social networks and social media to sustain protest activity. Research shows that social media can perform a variety of functions to facilitate mass mobilization. The Telegram channel Nexta assumed a critical role in overcoming the government’s shutdown of the Internet and disseminating information to over 1.5 million subscribers. Compared to Facebook and Twitter, the cloud-based instant messaging app Telegram was better positioned to bypass the state-sanctioned blockage of the Internet.

Third, commitment to nonviolent action underpins the durability of contentious collective action in Belarus. Prior research finds that nonviolent protest campaigns are more effective than violent uprisings in achieving their goals. Belarusians displayed a great deal of creativity in challenging the regime. In particular, women wearing white and holding flowers employed such attention-grabbing methods of nonviolent resistance as the formation of human chains, the performance of Belarusian-language songs, and the use of chants during peaceful marches. Notably, women compared the autocrat’s treatment of the nation to the violent behavior of a domestic abuser.

Fourth, spatial dispersion of post-election protests galvanized into action citizens across Belarusian large cities and small towns. Pockets of resistance to the authoritarian regime are no longer limited to the capital city. Furthermore, unlike the 2006 post-election protests, involving an encampment on Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk or the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, citizens refrained from permanently occupying a public square. Instead, protesters gathered in multiple spots throughout Minsk and spill out in bedroom communities, creating an element of surprise.

Fifth, this wave of mass mobilization was bolstered by a cross-cutting coalition of intellectuals, white-collar professionals, and the working class. A strike at the Kolubara coal mines delivered a heavy blow to Slobodan Milosevic’s standing in the wake of the 2000 post-election protests. Likewise, strikes at state-owned enterprises undermined Lukashenka’s legitimacy. In a dramatic gesture of solidarity, IT sector professionals, school teachers, sportsmen, and potash miners joined forces to press for the autocrat’s resignation.

It has yet to be seen whether the police officers and the military will defect en masse to accelerate the strongman’s downfall and reduce the likelihood of further bloodshed.

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Black Scholar Spotlight

In solidarity with the global anti-racism movement, we at Mobilizing Ideas want to contribute to the fight against anti-Black bias in the academy by amplifying the voices of Black scholars whose work deals with social movements (broadly defined). Our next dialogue will be a platform that lists the work and contact information of Black scholars. We have two primary goals for this platform: 1) to enable social movement scholars to immediately begin reading and citing the work of Black scholars with more intentionality; 2) to provide a resource for members of the press to easily contact Black scholars for their social movements expertise. We ask Black scholars who want to participate to e-mail 1-2 sentences about your expertise, contact information, and a picture to : mobilizingideas@gmail.com so we can create a blog post with their information. Lastly, we thank Black scholars for their persistence in the face of white supremacy. Their work matters, contributes to the canon, and deserves more recognition.

Editors in Chief,

Rory McVeigh, David Ortiz, Grace Yukich and Daisy Verduzco Reyes

 

Many thanks to our contributors:


Aisha Upton

I am a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota. My research agenda is focused on race, gender, and social movements. My current work examines how Black women’s voluntary associations interact with social movements. My dissertation, “Roses and Revolution: Black Sororities’ Responses to the Black Feminist Movement from 1968-1980” is a comparative-historical project that highlights how mainstream organizations can be affected by radical movements. 

Email: upton042@umn.edu

website: www.aishaupton.com

 

 

 


Amaka Okechukwu

I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at George Mason University. Central questions that animate my research agenda include: How do social movements produce and respond to racial politics in the post-civil rights period? How has social policy developed in response to the demands of social movements? And how might social movements shape or reflect urban social and spatial relations? My book To Fulfill These Rights: Political Struggle over Affirmative Action and Open Admissions (Columbia University Press 2019) won the 2020 Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems (Division on Racial and Ethnic Minorities). I am currently working on a new book project concerning community organizing in Black neighborhoods in Brooklyn during the urban crisis. 

Email:aokechuk@gmu.edu         

Website: AmakaOkechukwu.com


Angelica Loblack

I am Angelica (Jelly) Loblack, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland. My research agenda centers around the changing meanings and conceptions of blackness and how these differentially inform diasporic consciousness, racial and ethnic identity, and calls for racial solidarity in political movements. Specifically, I interrogate how distinct processes of racial socialization and racialization work together with persistent exposure to anti-Blackness and racism to motivate Black immigrant and multiracial involvement in anti-racist activism and race-based social movements.

Email: Aloblack@umd.edu

Twitter: @whyso_jelly

 

 

 

 


Ashley Cole

I am Ashley Cole, originally from the USA but residing in the UK as a final year PhD student and a teaching assistant in sociology. My thesis is on leadership within social movement organisations with a case study on the Black Lives Matter chapter-based organisation. My area of expertise extends to black studies, media, and politics.

Email: Cherrelle.cole@gmail.com

Twitter: @Ashleychercole

 


Ashley Crooks-Allen

Ashley Crooks-Allen (They/Them) is a Sociology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia, where they focus on Black immigrant identity and racialized social movements. Their dissertation, tentatively titled “Mestizaje Undone: A Qualitative Social Media Analysis of Afro-Latinx Identity & Social Movements”, takes a  qualitative approach to understanding how Afro-Latinx people use social media to make identity claims in relation to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Contact: Ashley.Crooks@uga.edu

Twitter: @Lyrical_Ley

 


Burrel Vann Jr

Burrel Vann Jr is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Public Affairs at San Diego State University. His scholarly work contributes to the study of politics, social movements and protest, drugs and crime, race, and discourse. Currently, his research centers on the political and discursive shifts about marijuana from 1930 to 2019. His prior work has focused on how protests impact voting and elections, the emergence of social movements, and how organizations are covered by the news.

Email: bvannjr@sdsu.edu

Website: www.burrelvannjr.com

 


Callie Watkins Liu

Dr. Callie Watkins Liu is an intersectional and critical race scholar-activist, dedicated to research and collaborations that prioritize social justice and center the socially vulnerable. Dr. Watkins Liu’s work challenges power inequities and supports social justice oriented systems, structures and practices. Her publications apply critical analyses to: Social Movements, knowledge production, identity and organizational dynamics.

Email: callie11@brandeis.edu

Website: https://calliewatkinsliuphd.wordpress.com/

 

 

 


Candice C. Robinson

I am a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. My research agenda is motivated by a commitment to examine how everyday activities of Black elites contribute to social change in Black communities in the US and abroad.  My dissertation, “Be the Movement: An Ethnographic Study on the Longevity of the National Urban League,” is in conversation with research on the Black Middle Class and civic engagement which has far reaching implications in the areas of race, class, social inequality, politics, and social movements.

Website: https://www.candicecrobinson.com/

Email: ccr26@pitt.edu 


Chaniqua D. Simpson (she/her)

I am a Black queer doctoral student and scholar-activist based in North Carolina. While I have an array of interests, my current work broadly focuses on Black social movements, gender/sexuality, and critical race theory. My dissertation uses the case study of a Black youth organization within the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) to understand how organizers utilize intersectional theory and praxis to bring members into the movement and to create campaigns and protest actions. I am specifically interested in bridging critical race theory, decolonial theory, and social movement theories for a more comprehensive understanding of movements of the racially oppressed.

Email: cdsimpso@ncsu.edu

Website: chaniquasimpson.com (under construction)

 


Crystal Eddins

I am an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at UNC Charlotte and hold a dual major PhD in African American & African Studies and Sociology. My research areas are African Diaspora Studies, Historical Sociology, and Social Movements. I study the role of African Diaspora consciousness, cultures, and identities during collective mobilizations. My manuscript in progress, African Diaspora Collective Action: Rituals, Runaways, and the Haitian Revolution, is an interdisciplinary case study that explores the relationship between enslaved people’s ritual life, collective consciousness, and marronnage (escape from enslavement) before the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804. 

Email: ceddins@uncc.edu

Twitter: @CrystalNEddins


Emmanuel Cannady

Emmanuel Cannady is a PhD candidate at the University of Notre Dame. He is a College of Arts and Letters Dean’s Fellow, a Graduate Student Affiliate of the Klau Center for Human Rights, and a Gender Studies Graduate Minor. Emmanuel’s research deals broadly with race and ethnicity, trauma, racialization, family, social movements, and the sociology of knowledge. His main research agenda interrogates the racialized meanings of interpersonal interactions across different contexts, including social movement organizations, bystander intervention, friendships, and partner selection to reveal the complex reality of race in the 21st century. For his dissertation, Emmanuel participates in a chapter of the Black Lives Matter Global Network to investigate how intersecting levels of trauma affect activists’ creation and deployment of different types of knowledge.

Email: ecannady@nd.edu

 


Jalia Joseph

Jalia L. Joseph (They/She pronouns) is a doctoral student at Texas A&M University. Broadly, their research focuses on social movements, race and ethnicity, feminisms, knowledge, and power. Their current research analyzes how social movement scholarship makes meaning of race when analyzing race-based social movement. Additionally, they are interested in how dreams, imagination, and perceptions of the future are connected to social movement action.

Email: JosephJL@tamu.edu

Website: Jaliajoseph.com  

 

 

 

 


Jean Beaman

Jean Beaman is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of “Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in France” (University of California Press, 2017), Associate Editor of the journal Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, and Corresponding Editor for the journal Metropolitics/Metropolitiques. Her current book project is an ethnographic examination of anti-racist mobilization and activism against police violence against racial and ethnic minorities in France from 2005 to 2020. Specifically, she interrogates how activists frame and combat racism in a context of civic republicanism, as well as how activists interpret and respond to the BlackLivesMatter movement in the United States and other struggles for Black liberation worldwide.  

Email: jbeaman@ucsb.edu


Jennifer Jones

I am Assistant Professor of Sociology & Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I conduct research on immigrant-serving institutions, the role of race in shaping movement politics, the relationship between social movements, politics, and race-making, multiracial organizing, and Black/Latino coalitions. 

Email: jjone34@uic.edu

Website: jenniferajones.me

Phone: 312-996-0123

 


Mark Toney

I have extensive experience in social movement practice and a track record of success in winning policy campaigns, initially as a community organizer for a welfare rights organization in 1982, founding executive director of Direct Action for Rights & Equality for eight years beginning in 1986, executive director of Center for Third World Organizing from 2000–2004, and executive director of The Utility Reform Network since 2008. Social movements, particularly how people exercise power and how people who don’t have any get some, comprised the core of my graduate studies in the UC Berkeley Sociology Department, in which I conducted research and wrote extensively about the Welfare Rights, Community Organizing, and the emerging Formerly Incarcerated People’s Movement.

I currently serve on the boards of ACLU Northern California, Consumer Federation of California, National Whistleblower Center, and California Shakespeare Theatre. My leadership has been recognized as a Kellogg National Leadership Fellow, National Science Foundation Fellow and Echoing Green Fellow. 

Email: mtoney@turn.org


Monika Gosin

I am an Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Latin American Studies Program at the College of William & Mary. My work deals with social movements, broadly defined. My book The Racial Politics of Division (Cornell, 2019) examines, in part, how African Americans in Miami, FL expressed their frustrations about how the local and federal government had neglected their concerns about police brutality, poverty, and loss of jobs. I examine their critiques of a system that continued to disenfranchise native-born African Americans while, in the context of the Cold war, immigration policy discriminated against Haitian immigrants, favoring Cuban migrants. Highlighting African American discursive analyses of their changing socio-political environment during two pivotal moments in Miami history, my work captures the promises, contradictions, and dilemmas involved in African American quests to advocate for themselves, and illuminates their fight against various forms of anti-blackness in ever evolving demographic contexts. 

Email: mngosin@wm.edu


Shaonta’ E. Allen

I’m a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. My research draws on race and social movements scholarship to examine the various ways Black Americans perceive and respond to racial inequality and how this resistance varies across institutional contexts. I specifically explore Black resistive practices within Religion, Higher Education, and Pop-Culture & Sport to theorize contemporary strategies for navigating racial and gendered hierarchies.

Website: www.ShaontaTheSociologist.com

Email: allen3se@mail.uc.edu

 

 


Simone N. Durham

Simone is a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Through her research, she endeavors to merge social movement and critical race theories to provide a better understanding of race-based movements. Simone’s research projects examine varied narratives and perspectives on the #BlackLivesMatter movement through multiple methodological approaches. Her primary ongoing project (which will be her dissertation) uses interviews to examine how Black millennials in the U.S. understand and relate to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Email: sdurham3@terpmail.umd.edu

Twitter: @SOCYsimone

Website: http://www.socysimone.com


(To be continued)

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NEW PUBLISHING OPPORTUNITY COURTESY OF DAVID MEYER AND SUZANNE STAGGENBORG

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the Cambridge University Press Elements series on Contentious Politics, which we are co-editing. Cambridge Elements are a new concept in academic publishing and scholarly communication, combining some of the best features of books and journal articles. They consist of original, concise, peer-reviewed scholarly research of approximately 20,000 to 30,000 words. Contributions are published digitally (with bound paper copies supplied on demand), giving authors the ability to regularly update the work and providing a dynamic reference resource for students, researchers, and practitioners. The format will allow authors to include visual elements such as video links, color pictures, and graphs as well as other innovative features.

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MEMORIALIZING COVID-19

BY Nicole Fox

This week, the death toll of Americans who have died from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000. To put that number in perspective, it is more than twenty times the number of Americans who died in hurricane Katrina, thirteen times as many who died in 9/11, and about three times the number of Americans who died from all forms of gun violence in 2019. And, this is when COVID-19 is still peaking. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that by August 2020 the death toll could triple, making the coronavirus deadlier for Americans than the Vietnam War.

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“Who Chose These Black Leaders?”: “Field Slave,” “House Slave,” Black Lives Matter, and the Black Generational Divide

BY Emmanuel Cannady

It was an unseasonably warm December evening when around 60 of South Bend’s Black citizens, council representatives, city employees, clergy, and their family members, gathered to express their support for then Presidential candidate, and now former mayor, Pete Buttigieg. Lining the back of the room, however, stood a group of around 25 protesters wearing Black Lives Matter shirts and stern facial expressions, while holding posters questioning the mayor’s concern for the homeless. This collective of protesters, myself among them, flanked a large Black Lives Matter banner. A host approached the podium at the front corner of the room, looked at the crowd and then at the group of protesters in the back, and offered a warm welcome. She asked that people respect the speakers. Recognizing tension in the room, she clearly wanted to respect free speech while still having an orderly meeting. The event, not surprisingly, did not proceed the way the host had planned.

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Generational Divides, Student Activism, and the Youth Vote: A Student Discussion

BY Erin Evans

 

 

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Generational Divides, Student Activism, and the Youth Vote

As the 2020 presidential election heats up, so does discussion about the political behavior of young people. Students in particular – their votes and their activism – are often depicted as necessary to democracy, but challenging to mobilize. On the other hand, older Americans are more likely to vote, and their voting patterns, as well as their leadership in many activist organizations, can give them an outsized voice in American politics. Furthermore, the political concerns of young and older people, as well as the strategies and tactics that they prefer, often diverge. How might generational divides influence activism, and with what consequences for politics in the U.S. and elsewhere? How might generational divides inhibit coalition-building that could effectively mobilize the youth vote?

This month, we have five outstanding contributors. Many thanks for their contributions on this topic:

 

Editors in Chief,

Rory McVeigh, David Ortiz, Guillermo Trejo, and Grace Yukich

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Bridging Generational Divides in the Pursuit of Political Change

BY Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur

Generational divides are not new, though perhaps every generation thinks it is the first to experience one. In the 1960s, the saying was “Don’t trust anybody over 30;” today, the generation that did not trust even the middle aged recoils when younger folks say “OK, Boomer.” These divides reflect both cohort effects and age effects: older people have had years to refine their perspectives on activism and politics, perspectives forged through experiences in movements ranging from anti-War to second-wave feminism, from gay rights to anti-nuclear power, while younger people are filled with energy and enthusiasm and sometimes have little perspective on how their vital work fits into the histories of activism they encounter. So how do these divides matter for the work of political activism today? And what might activists do to bridge them? My answers to these questions draw on both my scholarship in the sociology of social movements and my experience as part of coalitional work in activism and local politics.

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Generational Divides, Student Activism, and the Youth Vote

BY David S. Meyer

Emma Gonzalez tweeted out a picture of herself after she voted in Florida’s primary election. Along with 1.5 million other followers, I saw Emma smiling, displaying the “I voted” sticker that came with her first in-person vote. Emma started on Twitter when she and some of her classmates organized March for Our Lives in response to the horrific mass shooting at their high school. The Parkland kids brought a new energy and visibility to a growing movement for gun safety regulation, running through a full range of social movement tactics: a local demonstration where Emma gave a stirring “We Call BS” speech; a bus trip to lobby Florida legislators in Tallahassee; a national demonstration in Washington, DC, that drew more than one million people — and featured no speaker over the age of 19; a coordinated series of school walk-outs across the country; and a speaking tour in the summer of 2018 to encourage young people to vote.

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Chile’s post-transition generation: mastering the streets and distrusting the ballot box

BY Nicolás M. Somma

Contemporary Chile provides a fascinating setting for studying youth politics. As I write these lines on a Friday evening, hundreds of young people are protesting around metro stations in Santiago – Chile’s capital – and all across the country. This is just one snapshot of the so-called “Chilean Spring” (Somma et al. 2020), the gravest sociopolitical crisis in Chile in the last four decades. Since its start last October, this contentious episode combines massive peaceful protests, violent riots, police repression, and states of siege. Add to this an erratic government with the lowest presidential approval in decades (6%) and a widely delegitimated political class – from right to left – which is routinely intimidated by angry mobs and pontifying twitterers.

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