A recent New York Times article captures a disturbing, yet increasingly common, practice in the contemporary American white power movement: the secretive taking over of ostensibly marginal and largely white communities or buying up of marginal land in order to transform them into strongholds of white racist organizing. Most disturbingly, many of the residents of this small North Dakota town were unaware that such a process was unfolding underneath their feet until they were alerted by the Southern Poverty Law Center! Such strategies reflect the importance of creating various covert “free spaces,” as Simi and Futrell have noted, in which movement adherents are able to openly socialize with each other and profess their beliefs. In the case of contemporary white racist movements, the cultivation of these free spaces, often referred to within the movement as “pioneer little Europes” (PLEs), is a significant objective of their activism. Continue reading
When do social movements use the courts in pursuing their goals? The question might be rewritten to say: assuming that activists will always or often use the courts as one of many strategies, when are they successful in court? When is the law likely to change in response to activist’s lawsuits? This is a pertinent question as we see the U.S. Supreme Court taking up two cases about marriage equality.
One case is about Proposition 8, which took away the right for same-sex couples to marry in California (Hollingsworth v. Perry), and the other case (U.S. v. Windsor) is about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Continue reading
I followed a post-workout routine yesterday. I sat in an atrium café in a local downtown mall to eat a sandwich and look over notes from the morning’s writing. The café is on the ground floor beneath an open second tier walkway, where shoppers promenade by store windows. A group of young boys ran along the walkway shouting down at those, like myself, sitting below. Then two gobs of spittle cascaded down, aimed at me but hitting the cushion of the chair I was seated in. The boys ran off laughing gleefully. While I said nothing I was furious. I put down my pen and reflected on what just happened, why I was angry, but did nothing to show it. Most pointedly, I reflected about who those boys where and what might explain their behavior, I am after all a sociologist! Continue reading
As part of my ongoing series on minority language advocacy, in this post I continue my discussion by looking at some of the strategic spaces or “fields” targeted by grassroots language activists. In particular, I consider how minority language activists often work in “political” fields so as to influence state-level governance and policies. In my next post, I will consider how minority language activists also often work in “cultural” fields that involve reaching out to “everday” people and community members in ways that entail the orchestration of festive and educational actions.
Social movements working to resist and reverse processes of minority language loss, such as the Basque movement in France and Spain, the Welsh movement in Great Britain, the Ainu movement in Japan or the Navajo movement in the U.S, have emerged in response to enduring legacies of state-based nationalism founded upon the logic of linguistic assimilation. Minority language activists challenge the idea that ethnolinguistic diversity is a social problem that must be contained and suppressed. In building these challenge local-level activists, however, need to target specific domains.