Every summer we have a tradition of offering readers a healthy selection of great books for your summer reading lists. We invite contributors to choose their favorite social movements/protest-related book of the past couple years, whether scholarly, activist, or fiction, and write a short review. In past years, the selection of books has been diverse, and we hope to offer something of interest to everyone.
Barry Eidlin, McGill University (essay)
“Two Logics of Collective Action: Theoretical Notes on Social Class and Organizational Form” by Claus Offe and Helmut Wiesenthal
Adam Howe,University of British Columbia, Vancouver (essay)
More Will Sing Their Way to Freedom by Elaine Coburn
Julie Moreau, Washington University in St. Louis (essay)
Against Citizenship: The Violence of the Normative by Amy Brandzel
Many thanks to our contributors.
Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo
Why and under what conditions do people mobilize collectively? What are the barriers they face when they try to mobilize, and why might they vary? How do these barriers to mobilization shape the organizations that are trying to mobilize people? These are among the biggest questions that scholars of social movements face, no matter what the empirical focus of their work might be.
So, for today’s edition of Mobilizing Ideas’ summer reading guide, I’m deviating from the script. My recommendation isn’t something hot off the presses, nor is it a book. Rather, it’s an article that’s almost as old as I am, which has been foundational to my thinking about social movements. It’s widely cited, although rarely by social movement scholars. Similarly, it can be found on many course syllabi, but rarely courses on social movements. And yet, I contend that it offers social movement scholars vital theoretical and conceptual tools for thinking about their work. So think of this as a “Throwback Thursday” edition of the Mobilizing Ideas summer reading series, where I dig through the crates to bring you a social movement theory gem that’s worth a first look if you’ve never encountered it, and another look if it’s been a while. Continue reading
Amy Brandzel’s book Against Citizenship: The Violence of the Normative is a thorough critique of the concept and practice of citizenship. Brandzel examines three recent political debates—hate crimes, same-sex marriage, and Native Hawaiian representation—looking closely at U.S. legislation and judicial decisions as her primary sources of data. Bringing together these three case studies, Brandzel argues against the violent normativities inherent in citizenship. Continue reading
In More Will Sing Their Way To Freedom, Editor Elaine Coburn brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars to expand contemporary debates about Indigenous resistance, resurgence, and social activism across Canada. The book’s anti-colonial and Indigenous lenses challenge mainstream social movement research. Drawing lessons from the Idle No More (INM) Indigenous self-determination movement the book suggests that the goal of research on Indigenous activism needs to be the advancement of Indigenous justice, rather than the advancement of social movement theory. Continue reading
Amarasingam, Amarnath. 2015. Pain, Pride, and Politics: Social Movement Activism and the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Canada. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.
Zimmer, Kenyon. 2015. Immigrants Against the State: Yiddish and Italian Anarchism in America. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press.
Mobilizations around issues concerning migrants, refugees, and stateless persons have intensified since the turn of the decade. Across Europe and North America, citizens opposed to asylum seekers from Syria have deployed narratives and visual tropes that signify the erosion of cultural integrity and territorial security of nation-states. From Port-au-Prince to Boston, Haitians have protested the arbitrary deportations and violence perpetrated against their co-ethnics in the Dominican Republic, where hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent were stripped of their citizenship. Last month, the U.S. government’s use of the term “Rohingya” to describe the persecuted Muslim population that has lived in Myanmar for generations generated massive demonstrations from Buddhist nationalists in Yangon and Mandalay. These mobilizations highlight the rigidity of national identity amid the porousness and fluidity of national borders in the age of globalization. Continue reading
Will Potter’s Green is the New Red chronicles the turn of events that led to animal rights and environmental activists being labeled as the #1 domestic terrorist threat in the U.S. (by the Deputy Assistant Direct of the FBI in 2005). He shows the consequences of this for people like Eric McDavid, who spent nearly 10 years in prison on conspiracy charges based on information from a young agent provocateur who befriended him, and even for people like himself, who was spooked when the FBI interrogated him about his friends and threatened that he and his partner would lose out on jobs, grants, and PhD funding. This book provides a compelling and intimate account of covert repression and its impact on a movement. Social movement scholars looking for theory building or testing will not find it, but what they will find is highly readable, engaging, at times very personal, and well-researched investigative journalism that captures the sense of fear, anger, and commitment of a small group of activists who came under increasing repression by the state. Continue reading
White, Heather R. 2015. Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Sociological studies of the LGBT rights movement have generally portrayed Christians as opponents of LGBT equality. Indeed, from at least the time of Anita Bryant’s 1977 Save the Children campaign to repeal an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Dade County, Florida (Fetner 2001), conservative Christians in the United States have actively and visibly mobilized to oppose LGBT rights. Continue reading