Mobilization in the Wake of Rio’s Olympics

By Nicholas Barnes

Over the last few months, we have been inundated with news articles and reports on the disastrous impacts that the Olympics have had on Rio de Janeiro. In particular, Rio’s working class poor, many of whom live in the city’s 1,100 favelas, representing nearly 25% of the population, have shouldered the biggest burden. The current situation in many of the city’s favelas is bleak. Many low-wage public employees’ salaries have gone unpaid and had their benefits cut. More than 4,000 residents have been evicted from their homes to make room for Olympic infrastructure. Even the once heralded Police Pacification Units (UPPs), a program intended to take back territorial control of favelas from powerful drug trafficking gangs and reduce violent crime in Rio in preparation for the World Cup and Olympics, are faltering. The news is not all bad, however, as the Olympics and other mega-events have also created opportunities for activists and social movements to call attention to misguided and irresponsible public policies. Much of Brazilian society has mobilized as a result. And yet, favela communities have largely been unable to capitalize on these opportunities due to continuing problems related to public security. Continue reading

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The Cycle of Socio-Environmental Mobilization Against Transnational Mining in Argentina: Assessment and Challenges (2003-2016)

By Lucas Christel and Daniel Torunczyk

In April 2003, a story ran in the New York Times Newspaper entitled “A Town’s Protests Threaten Argentina’s Mining Future”[1]. Though they couldn’t have known it at the time, the title was essentially premonitory of the advance of mining development activities in Esquel, Chubut province, as well as other provinces in Argentina. The Asamblea de Vecinos Autoconvocados de Esquel por el No a la mina (AVAE: in English, the Self-Appointed Neighbors’ Assembly Saying No to Mining against Looting and Pollution) burst into the conflict in the middle of 2002. Using a variety of repertoire of contention that combined direct action with institutional elements, such as judicial relief and a successful local referendum, AVAE successfully stopped a gold and silver mining project by Canadian-based company Meridian Gold (Svampa & Antonellli 2009; Walter y Alier 2010; Torunczyk 2015). More than a decade later, this essay seeks to assess the cycle of socio-environmental mobilization against transnational mining in Argentina, and to bring to light the actual challenges to environmental mobilization. Continue reading

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Activism in Rio’s Olympic Spotlight

By Adam Talbot

talb 1.pngActivists protest outside the Olympic Park. Photo Credit: Rio 2016 – Os Jogos da Exclusão

This summer, a whopping 30,000 journalists have descended on the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. While many have come to cover the world’s largest sporting event, thousands more are combing the city for stories about what life is really like for Cariocas, as Rio’s residents are known. These residents know they are living under the glare of the world’s media, and political activists have tried to direct global attention towards their causes. This isn’t new for the Olympics – it would have been hard to watch the last Games in Sochi without hearing anything about Russia’s controversial ‘anti-gay’ laws, or watch Beijing 2008 and not learn something of the Chinese government’s poor human rights record. Continue reading

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“Hillary Clinton sees me:” The primaries, “identity politics,” and disability

anastasia_somozaAt the Democratic National Convention, disability activist Anastasia Somoza told enthusiastic audience members that “in a country where 56 million people so often feel invisible, Hillary Clinton sees me. She sees me as a strong woman, a young professional, a hard worker, and the proud daughter of immigrants.”

Media personalities, political insiders, and the candidates themselves have talked about the 2016 presidential primaries as a departure from what we normally expect from presidential primaries. The difference is often attributed to how Donald Trump “doesn’t play by the rules” – something we are frequently reminded of by pundits on both the left and right. Continue reading

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ASPA Reception at Drexel University

Saturday, September 3rd


The Department of Politics at Drexel University will hold an ASPA reception showcasing the work of Sidney Tarrow (Cornell University) and Ian Hurd (Northwestern University). More information can be found here.

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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.

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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