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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“Activists are on this. Let’s all be on this:” Is Gun Control on the “Gay Agenda?”

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“Dear NRA, we made it through Stonewall, AIDS, DADT, and through Marriage Equality. You’re next.” This was among the many comments Jennifer Carlson and I received following the online publication of our recent op-ed in the Washington Post.

For many gun control advocates and activists, when meaningful policy change did not occur after Sandy Hook where a dozen elementary school children were murdered, it signaled their impotence in going up against the powerful gun lobby. To many, the failure of Congress to enact any of the four “gun control” bills this week is a replay of past efforts following those mass shootings.

In our op-ed, we argued that the Orlando massacre might represent new political opportunities for policy reform. 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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Radicalism and Factionalism of the Red Guards

By Yang Zhang

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Yang, Guobin. 2016. The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China. New York: Columbia University Press.

 

At the fiftieth anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, Yang Guobin’s just-released book, The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China, offers a vivid account of the genesis of the political activism of the Red Guards and their life courses from that time to the present day. A transformative event, the Red Guard Movement contains at least three important components: radicalism and internal factionalism as a political movement; the Red Guard generation’s continuous political activism, albeit in different forms; the resurgence of political populism and leftism over the last decade as this generation rose to power in China. Drawing upon twenty-year research, Yang touches upon all of these vital issues. In doing so, he also offers theoretical contributions to the study of political movements, collective violence, and political culture.

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