Category Archives: Great Books for Summer Reading 2016

Great Books for Summer Reading 2016

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

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“Two Logics of Collective Action: Theoretical Notes on Social Class and Organizational Form”: A Review

By Barry Eidlin

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

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Social Movements and Citizenship: Queering the Canon

By Julie Moreau

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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

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More Will Sing Their Way to Freedom

By Adam Howe

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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

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Insurgent Migrants

By Sharon M. Quinsaat

Amarasingam book      Zimmer book

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

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Green is the New Red

By Heidi Reynolds-Stenson

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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

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A New Take on Religion and the LGBT Rights Movement

By Jonathan Coley

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

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Great Books for Summer Reading 2016

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.

Many thanks to our contributors.

Christian Davenport, University of Michigan (essay)
March by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Erin Evans, University of California-Irvine (essay)
Culture and Activism: Animals Rights in France and the United States by Elizabeth Cherry

Dana Moss, University of Pittsburgh (essay)
Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami

Ana Velitchkova, COES-Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (essay)
Social Movement Dynamics: New Perspectives on Theory and Research from Latin America by Federico M.Rossi and Marisa von Bülow

Fei Yan, Tsinghua University (essay)
Will China Democratize? by Andrew J. Nathan, Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner

Yang Zhang, American University (essay)
The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China by Guobin Yang

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

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Stoking the Embers of the Long, Hot Summers

By Christian Davenport

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Lewis, John and Andrew Aydin. 2013. March: Book One. 1st edition. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions.

 

About fifty years ago, the United States of America was set ablaze with a series of riots/disturbances/rebellions/incidents of civil unrest/acts of freedom. These events are significant in US history because they shifted much political thinking of radicals to the left (i.e., advocating self-determination, statehood, socialism and reparations) while moving political authorities to the right (i.e., greater restriction on civil liberties, militarization of responses and diminished accommodation), they shifted political tactics of challengers as well as authorities to greater levels of aggression (i.e., armed self defense for the former and “law and order” measures for the latter), they led to the creation of a series of above-ground challenging institutions that were politically more radical than many before them (e.g., the Black Panther Party, the Republic of New Africa, the Young Lords) as well as the increased support of a series of below-ground, covert police institutions (e.g., Red Squads) and they also led to the rise of some of the most intellectually creative/radical/productive/influential individuals in American history that you probably have never heard speak or read including Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Toure, Imari Obadele and José (Cha-Cha) Jiménez.

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Cultural Interplay and Social Movement Outcomes

By Erin Evans

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Cherry, Elizabeth (2016) Culture and Activism: Animals Rights in France and the United States. Routledge: New York, NY.

 

Elizabeth Cherry’s first book, Culture and Activism: Animal Rights in France and the United States, reflects nearly a decade of in-depth ethnographic research in both countries. Cherry uses a comparative approach, grounded in cultural sociology, to explore why France’s animal advocacy movement is weaker than that in the U.S. both in size of the movement and gains made for animal protection. Unlike many cultural analyses, Cherry’s work focuses on how cultural and political structures are intertwined, and how culture should be conceptualized as structural, with opportunities and constraints for social movements. Scholars often focus on either culture or political structures to explain social movement processes and outcomes in a mutually exclusive way. Although Cherry focuses on cultural structures, she acknowledges that “as culture, structure, and agency are intertwined, so are culture, strategies, and outcomes… we must understand the myriad cultural structures in each country as well as their effects on activism and the public reception of activists’ claims.” (6) Continue reading

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