ICNC's Academic Webinars are a series of online talks and visual presentations on critical ideas, cases, and questions related to civil resistance and nonviolent movements. They are intended for general learners, students, and interested professionals.
These hour-long webinars are offered bi-weekly, typically on Thursdays from 12:00-1:00pm EST. Scholars deliver 30-40 minute powerpoint presentations, which is followed by a 20-30 minute question and answer period. Preliminary readings may also be recommended prior to the presentation and will be sent in advance to those who register for the webinar.
Based on a newly-published edited book Civil Resistance and Conflict Transformation. Transitions from Armed to Nonviolent Struggles (Routledge August 2014), this webinar will provide some insights on the interplay between civil resistance, armed insurgency and conflict transformation. Particular focus will be placed (both conceptually and empirically) on the phenomenon of armed groups shifting their conflict-waging strategies from violent to nonviolent means, especially in contexts which cannot be resolved by force but are also 'unripe' for conventional de-escalation methods such as negotiation and political integration. Relying on evidence from such various settings as South Africa, Palestine, Western Sahara, West Papua, Mexico, Colombia, Nepal and Egypt, the webinar talk will review the dynamics of organizational and strategic shifts from armed to unarmed conflict and factors inducing such transitions - from a change of leadership and a pragmatic re-evaluation of the goals and means of insurgency in the light of evolving inter-party power dynamics, to the search for new local or international allies and the cross-border emulation or diffusion of new repertoires of action.
Recorded discussion from live Webinar conducted on Tuesday, October 7, 2014
This webinar analyzes the unfolding "umbrella revolution" in Hong Kong. International media have reported on how hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong protestors have maintained nonviolent discipline and order. International observers see images common to nonviolent movements around the world: strength in number, determined faces in front of riot police, slogans, songs, and more. Beneath such broad strokes of similarities, Hong Kong is unlike other cases given the constitutional structure of "one country, two systems" agreed to between Beijing and London. While Hong Kong has only semi-democracy, people are free to protest. While the police sometimes make arbitrary arrests, the independent judiciary inherited from the colonial era routinely releases activists. This constitutional structure presents a very open political space unseen in the rest of China and yet makes it difficult for activists to mobilize the largely contented population. Against this backdrop, the unprecedented use of riot police and the firing of tear gas seemed to have galvanized popular support for the protesters fighting for genuine democracy and increased sympathy for their nonviolent actions.
Recorded discussion from live Webinar conducted on April 9, 2014
An ICNC-moderated webinar discussion brought together four Ukrainian guests with backgrounds in academia, journalism, activism, and policy to talk about the political conflict in Ukraine. A number of false narratives have emerged that branded the Maidan Revolution as violent, driven by radicals and external powers. After the invasion of Crimea and its annexation to Russia some commentators suggested that the outcome of the referendum reflected the preferences of the majority of the Crimean population and the political change represented by the annexation of Crimea to Russia was in fact engineered peacefully, which contrasted with the supposedly violent nature of the Maidan Revolution that brought down the Yanukovych regime.
This webinar addressed the prevailing misconceptions that emerged around the conflict in Ukraine. It discussed the origin, goals, strategies and tactics behind the Ukrainian Maidan movement, as well as its composition and its responses to the state-sponsored repression. Webinar discussants talked about the role of a violent minority - a radical flank in the movement - and reflected on the impact of external actors in the Ukrainian struggle. How, and more importantly why was the Yanukovych regime ultimately brought down? In the final part of the conversation, the speakers offered their views on the ongoing mobilization of the Ukrainian society against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and against a possible Russian invasion of other parts of Ukraine, as well as civic organizing to support but also pressure the Ukrainian government to implement needed reforms.
-Nataliya Gumenyuk, Ukrainian journalist, Co-Founder of Hromadske.TV -Olga Onuch, Newton Fellow, University of Oxford / Research Fellow, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute -Dmytro Potekhin, Trainer and consultant in strategic planning and nonviolent resistance -Olena Tregub, Policy expert of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and a writer for Kyiv Post
Sharon Erickson Nepstad, University of New Mexico Wednesday, November 13, 2013 / 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
Recent studies have emphasized that security force defections can greatly improve the odds that civil resistance movements will achieve their goals. Yet we still know relatively little about the factors that influence defections and the long-term consequences for nonviolent struggles. In this webinar, I briefly describe a variety of security force responses, from shirking to desertions to mutiny. Then I summarize ten factors that shape whether security forces remain loyal, side with civil resisters, or divide internally. To illustrate these factors, I explore several cases from the Arab Spring.
I examine Egypt, where the military sided with civil resisters. I also analyze Bahrain, where the military remained loyal to the state. Finally, I examine Syria, where the military split, leading to civil war. I show how the political rulers often use patronage and ethnic or sectarian favoritism to keep troops loyal but how these same factors can actually contribute to security forces' decision to withhold cooperation from the state. I conclude the webinar by examining some of the problems that may arise when defectors join the opposition and some ways that civil resisters can address these issues to maintain their autonomy and control of the movement.
Dr. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at University of San Francisco; Co-Chair, ICNC Academic Advisors Committee Thursday, October 3, 2013 / 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
The power of strategic nonviolent action in successful pro-democracy insurrections against autocratic regimes has been well-documented. Less well known has been the role of strategic nonviolent action in defending democracies against attempted coup d'états. This webinar examines the history and theory of civil resistance against efforts by the military or other undemocratic elements to overthrow democratic governments and replace them by autocratic regimes.
Starting with a review of Gene Sharp and Bruce Jenkins' monograph The Anti-Coup, the presentation then looks at a series of case studies from Latin America and elsewhere during the past century, particularly in recent decades. The presentation concludes by examining cases where nonviolent civil insurrections have prompted the military to force out the president and the ensuing struggle to insure the interim military leaders allow for a genuine transition to democracy.
Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, Senior Director, Education and Research at ICNC Thursday, June 6, 2013 / 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
The modern practice of civil resistance sprang from the ideas about the underlying nature of political power and agency of people that began to be formed much earlier in history than many realize.
In fact, as the newly edited book Recovering Nonviolent History. Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles shows, in the last two centuries, many societies - regardless of geographical, cultural, religious, or political settings - engaged in successful nonviolent resistance to defend themselves from foreign domination and protect their national communities.
In the age of revolutions, rise of violent nationalism, independence wars, brutal anti-colonial struggles and major internal and regional wars the history hides important nonviolent campaigns that were led by ordinary people with the aim of reclaiming their rights to self-rule.
This webinar talk will discuss the power and dynamics of civil resistance, bring up stories of unarmed struggles, often buried beneath eulogized violence, and account for denials of civil resistance in national annals.
Oleg Kozlovsky, Fulbright Visiting Scholar, George Washington University Tuesday, March 26, 2013 / 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
In December 2011 tens of thousands of Russians went to the streets of Moscow and other cities to protest fraud at recent parliamentary elections. This was a shock to the regime as well as the opposition even though both had long been preparing for mass demonstrations. The protests, though truly spontaneous and surprising, were by no means random. Instead, they were a result of gradual but radical changes in the Russian society due in no small part to contained but persistent political, social and cultural activism and autonomous civic organizing of previous years.
The regime responded with charges of propaganda and repression, which might have slowed down the resistance but did not suppress it. Facing a stalemate, the Russian protest movement now has to find new methods and tactics, increase its internal mobilization and outreach to other segments of the society and stay united.
Nichole Argo, Postdoctoral Fellow in Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University February 21, 2013
We surveyed Israelis in June 2012 to see how reminders of these nonviolent protests affected their perceptions of Palestinians, prospects for peace, their own sacred values, and more generally, their belief that groups can change. To our surprise, reminders of the protests led to negative assessments across all of these measures—more so than did reminders of Palestinian violence, or even stories of traffic woes.
This presentation focuses on the results of the survey, as well as what it may tell us about the process by which nonviolent campaigns affect intergroup psychology and transformation, particularly where there is a history (or competing strain) of violence.
Dr. Oliver Kaplan, Lecturer in Human Rights at the Josef Korbel School, University of Denver Wednesday, January 30
Civilians would seem powerless when facing violent and heavily armed actors in settings of civil conflict, and yet communities in various countries have found ways to avoid violence. In this presentation Dr. Kaplan discusses the various strategies he has documented that communities from around the world have used to retain autonomy and self-rule in the face of competition among multiple armed groups.
Jeffrey W. Rubin and Emma Sokoloff-Rubin January 25, 2013
In 1986, a group of young Brazilian women started a movement to secure economic rights for rural women and transform women's roles in their homes and communities. Together with activists across the country, they built a new democracy and fought for women's rights in the wake of a military dictatorship. Jeffrey W. Rubin and Emma Sokoloff-Rubin, a father-daughter research team, tell the behind-the-scenes story of this remarkable movement.
Dr. Benedetta Berti, Associate Fellow and Lecturer, Tel Aviv University January 17, 2013
Contrary to the conventional narrative Middle Eastern civil society has been active and involved in strategic non-violent struggle for years before the beginning of the massive social and political mobilizations of 2010 and 2011. The presentation looks at the characteristics of civil society and social movements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region-focusing specifically on Tunisia and Egypt-describing the civil Society and social movements in the Middle East before the “Arab Awakening.”
Presented by: Dr. Joseph Bock, Director of Global Health Training at the Eck Institute for Global Health, University of Notre Dame, and Author of "The Technology of Nonviolence" Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Engaging in nonviolent resistance for political transformation during Gandhi's struggles in South Africa and British India has many similarities to more modern approaches. Some people claim that social media is the main ingredient. Is that correct? What technologies are most important? What else is needed for the success of nonviolent movements that social media cannot provide? Can't technology also be used by oppressive governments and troublemakers? Can't they use the information on digital maps that everyone else can see on the internet? And what happens when cell phone and internet services are interrupted or shut down completely?
This webinar covers the limits of technology for nonviolent resistance movements and offers insights about ethical dilemmas.