2010 Series

When Repression Backfires

Thursday, February 18, 2010
1:30pm - 2:30pm EST

Dr. Les Kurtz, professor of Sociology at George Mason University and author/editor of several books including, "The Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict," explores the "paradox of repression," - efforts by elites to repress a movement that often end up strengthening a civil resistance movement rather than weakening it. Examining key historic cases of "repression management" by activists, he shows how repression can erode a regime's pillars of support, promote questions if not outright defections among power elites, and often become a turning point in leading toward a movement's success.


Nonviolent Action in the Islamic World

Thursday, March 11, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Dr. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, discusses the long history of strategic nonviolent action throughout the Islamic world, in the Middle East and beyond. Based in part on the social contract implied in Islamic teachings which advocate the withdrawal of obedience from unjust authority, nonviolent civil insurrections have played a major role in the struggle for freedom and human rights for more than a century. Dr. Zunes, looks at case studies from Iran, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Mali, Western Sahara, Indonesia, Pakistan, and others.


Nonviolent Strategy, Tactics and Collective Identity

Thursday, March 25, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Dr. Lee Smithey, Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College, looks at how tactical choices and their execution are closely related to the construction of collective identities in social movements. Studying collective identity has helped social movement scholars understand why people participate in collective action, but less attention has been paid to the relationships between tactical choices and collective identity. Strategies and tactics can reflect, reaffirm, or challenge collective identities. Innovative nonviolent methods can create tension as activists work to resolve what they do with who they feel they are. However, much of the power of nonviolent action lies in the ways tactics and methods leverage culture by tapping into identities that demarcate or crosscut movements, opponents, allies, and by-standing publics.


Why Civil Resistance Works

Thursday, April 8, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Dr. Erica Chenoweth, Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University looks at the strategic advantage of nonviolent struggle and civil resistance. Armed insurgency may have triumphed in the Algerian war of independence, the Chinese Revolution, and the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan. These cases, among others, have convinced many observers that violent insurgency is likely to succeed. Moreover, insurgents often claim that they turn to violence as a last resort, having exhausted all other methods of seeking redress for their grievances. Professor Chenoweth challenges both claims, arguing that nonviolent resistance has actually been more effective in the 20th century than violent resistance. She presents a new data set, which provides robust statistical evidence of the strategic superiority of nonviolent resistance, even in cases where the opponent regime is brutal. The research implies that violent resistance is seldom necessary, as many insurgents claim. Rather, civil resistance can be an effective substitute for insurgency in civil wars.


The Role of Indigenous Movements in Democratization in Latin America: The Guatemalan Case

Thursday, May 6th, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Dr. Roddy Brett, Professor at the Universidad del Rosario in Colombia, presents on the role and impact of social movements in the context of Guatemala's peace process, which was a key aspect of the country's process of democratization to resolve the protracted and genocidal internal armed conflict (1960-1996). The presentation argues that the evolution of strategic nonviolent conflict was characterized not only by a shift in the identity of movement activists, but also a change in the strategies that movements used, as they increasingly engaged in formal mechanisms accompanying the peace process and participated in the state and political parties.


Civil Resistance as a Foundation of Democracy to Be: The Legacy of Nonviolent Struggle in the Democratization of Poland

Thursday, May 13th, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, Senior Director for Education and Research at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict presents on the long term impact of civil resistance after a nonviolent struggle ends and a democratic transition is launched. Does civil resistance create a long lasting effect on the society and politics? Do earlier practices of civil resistance have an impact on later processes of democratic transformation? How exactly is a propitious effect of civil resistance on democratization and democratic consolidation generated and visible in practice? What analytical tools can be used to study the residual impact of civil resistance? All the above inquiries will direct our conversation to the very essence of what civil resistance is, what kind of social capital it might help to create, and how a long-lasting effect of civil resistance is evident in a concrete case of a major nonviolent struggle. Accordingly, the presentation will focus on civil resistance and the Solidarity movement in communist Poland. The talk will illustrate a residual effect of civil resistance-generated social capital on Polish society and politics in the immediate and long-term following the 1989 changes.


Swallowing Camels: How the Media Misinterpret Nonviolent Struggles

Thursday, May 27th, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Sonoma State University, uses frame analysis to analyze some of the common ways in which mainstream media coverage of nonviolent struggles and civil resistance tends to reinforce key distortions in knowledge about these struggles and even defaults to the perspective of the oppressor. She also makes suggestions for ways in which conscious citizens, activists, and media audiences can help counter these misconceptions. Key case studies are Iran's "Green Revolution" and Burma's "Saffron Revolution."


Costs and Risks in Nonviolent Conflict

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Hardy Merriman, senior advisor to ICNC, looks at how civil resistance movements engage in a contest with their adversaries. In this contest, each side is capable of imposing costs on the other. Civil resistance movements may take actions that deny their adversaries legitimacy and material resources, as well as reduce the loyalty of the adversary's supporters. Conversely, a movement's adversary may take actions to deny a movement legitimacy, material resources, or the loyalty of the movement's supporters. Furthermore, like in any contest, there are certain risks inherent in one's choice of strategy. In attempting to impose costs on the other, movements and their adversaries incur risks associated with their actions. In this webinar, Merriman frames civil resistance from the perspective of two kinds of costs--material/economic costs and political/legitimacy costs--that movements and their adversaries can impose on each other. It will also survey the risks associated with movements' attempts to impose these costs on their adversaries.


Civil Resistance in Bosnia: Pressure for Truth and Reform

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Vanessa Ortiz, former Sr. Director for Civic and Field Learning at ICNC, and Darko Brkan, organizer for Dosta!, present two movements in Bosnia that are challenging the status quo and mobilizing citizens to action. The Women of Srebrenica is a movement that galvanized the grief of women who lost loved ones in Srebrenica, and for over 14 years, it has created pressure on the international community to not only address the issue of missing persons and uncovering of mass graves, but to identify and charge those accountable for war crimes. Dosta! (Enough!), began as an expression of citizen discontent with the current political system. It is an emerging citizens movement which has grown from 10 members to hundreds of individuals around Bosnia – across all ethnic groups. Dosta! is awakening civil society to demand an end to corruption by creating nonviolent campaigns targeting corrupt political leaders and policies, while pressing for a more accountable and transparent political system as Bosnia enters the path toward European integration.


The Digital Duel: Resistance and Repression in an Online World

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Daryn Cambridge, Director for Knowledge & Digital Strategies at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, and adjunct professor at American University, looks at the emerging role of digital tools and new media in impacting the way people around the world struggle nonviolently for human rights, justice, and democratic self-rule. In addition, he will look at how these communication technologies are also being used as tools of repression by the very governments and structures these movements oppose. Looking at the evolution of communication and information sharing as a tool of resistance, Daryn will expand on contemporary struggles for rights waged with the help of online, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and technologies such as cellphones and digital cameras that advance the utility of these platforms.


Nonviolence Today: The State of Humanity's Most Important Art

Thursday, October 21, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Dr. Michael Nagler, Professor Emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley and President of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, gives an overview of the present state of awareness and practice of nonviolent techniques, stressing several new developments that give cause for hope despite the grim ‘realities’ of the global problématique. His presentation consists of four parts: (1) a general introduction and definition of terms: what does he mean by ‘nonviolence’ and how it is generally used in scholarly and activist discourse; similarly with associated terminology in vogue today; (2) The quantitative spread of global nonviolent action since Gandhi and King; (3) the qualitative differences in the general climate of dissent and specific advantages employed or waiting to be employed in nonviolent action today; and (4) where do we go from here?


How can movement and revolution studies inform the theory and practice of nonviolent action?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Dr. Stellan Vinthagen, Associate Professor in Sociology and Senior Lecturer in Peace and Development Studies at Göteborg University in Sweden looks at how real world events and statistics show how civil resistance or nonviolent action movements, contrary to conventional assumptions, are very effective means to change societies. Several authoritarian regimes have fallen (e.g. Apartheid South Africa or Milosevic's Serbia) after popular, relatively peaceful rebellions. Recent quantitative research reports have shown a great effectiveness of civil resistance campaigns (Karatnycky & Ackerman 2005; Stephan & Chenoweth 2008). At the same time there are several conflicts in which civil resistance has yet to be successful, e.g. in Palestine/Israel, Tibet/China, Colombia or Western Sahara/Morocco. And we also see how some “nonviolent revolutions” are having serious democracy problems (e.g. Georgia or Kyrgyzstan). There are reasons to reflect on the role of various conditions and contexts when applying resistance strategies. Here nonviolent action studies have something to learn from other, more advanced, social science areas, e.g. social movement studies or revolution studies. This presentation tries to inspire and illustrate possible improvements of civil resistance strategies. What happens when we apply e.g. political opportunity theory or resource mobilization theory, or Foran’s theory of revolutions to civil resistance practice and studies? It is argued that greater effectiveness is possible if we build strategies on some established theories and understandings of movements and social change.