Minds of the Movement

An ICNC blog on the people and power of civil resistance

Scholarship & Research

Articles

Alternative Institution-Building as Civil Resistance

From American colonists nonviolently resisting British rule (1765-1775), to the Indian Independence Movement (1920s-1940s), to the Solidarity movement in Poland (1980-89), it is well known that movements engaged in extensive alternative institution-building. Forty-five years after pioneering scholar Gene Sharp’s 198 methods of nonviolent action, a forthcoming ICNC book is proposing an entirely new category of Creative (Constructive) Intervention to capture the many forms of alternative institutions—and reflecting the true significance that these methods have for civil resistance scholarship and practice.

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Interviews & People

An Activist-Scholar’s Insights on Researching Civil Resistance and Environmental Justice

Given the scale, intensity, and compounding effects of climate change, it has never been more important to defend the environment. To make matters more urgent, resource conflicts are becoming increasingly deadly in the past couple of decades. This is why people refer to environmental activism nowadays as a “suicide mission,” especially in countries that emerge from colonialism with commodity-dependent economies and weak political institutions. […]

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Scholarship & Research

Transitional Justice: What Role for the Grassroots?

People often look to elites to understand whether and how transitional justice will be realized in a society. But a top-down perspective focused on the roles of prominent individuals, institutions, and international power-brokers overlooks a critical driver of transitional justice: the activism of the affected population. A notable example of this is Brazil’s esculachos […]

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Scholarship & Research

How Nonviolent Resistance Helps to Consolidate Gains for Civil Society after Democratization

In recent contributions to this blog, Maciej Bartkowski and Hardy Merriman discussed how nonviolent resistance advances democratization and how it can assist to protect against democratic backsliding. This blog post, which offers a sneak preview of findings from a research project, focuses on if and how nonviolent campaigns can consolidate gains for civil society […]

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Scholarship & Research

Repression, Resilience, and Mass Movements: A Page from Chilean History

In a matter of days Chile went from vibrant democracy to closed society after the military coup of 1973. At the time, my maternal grandfather, Carlos Matus, was Minister of the Economy and President of the Central Bank of Chile, serving under Salvador Allende. The armed forces arrested my […]

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Scholarship & Research

To Understand Political Power, Look No Further than Civil Resistance

Those who support the use of violence often claim the weak “need” it to offset the power of the strong, that they have no choice given their circumstances, or that it is a “natural’ response to their experiences living in situations of violence and oppression. One of the fundamental premises of civil resistance, however, is […]

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Scholarship & Research

Resisting War: Insights from a New Frontier in Civil Resistance Studies

Civil resistance isn’t always about masses of people in the streets calling for the downfall of authoritarian regimes. At this moment, in many countries around the world, unarmed civilians living in warzones are resisting armed groups in surprising and subtle ways. As we have gotten deeper into this new research frontier, we’ve made […]

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Scholarship & Research

Did the Arab Spring Revolutions Bring More Violence to the Middle East?

Immediately after the Arab Spring, political scientists and experts embarked on soul searching to find the answers to two simple questions: why they failed to predict these uprisings; and why some revolutions succeeded through nonviolent means despite the presence of brutal regimes. Scholars recognized that their past focus on the durability of  […]

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Scholarship & Research

Why Do Some Movements Fail to Bring Positive Outcomes, and How Can This Be Changed?

My previous post looked at how nonviolent movements often play a role in political transitions and democratization. However, in some cases, nonviolent movements succeed in ending an incumbent authoritarian’s rule, but are unable to consolidate gains and instead the situation deteriorates. Such impacts can be observed in three types of […]

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Scholarship & Research

Do Civil Resistance Movements Advance Democratization?

Two recent books, Social Movements and Civil War and Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters, examine the aftermath of the Arab Spring, and come to the conclusion that civil resistance movements can lead to rising violence, authoritarianism and failed democratization. As Adam Roberts, one of the editors of Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring, observes […]

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