by Hardy MerrimanJune 21, 2017
When I got involved in the field of civil resistance in 2002, it was the beginning of an exponential growth curve. This fact was not immediately obvious. I worked as the assistant to Gene Sharp at the Albert Einstein Institution, a very small non-profit organization with an office in the basement of a building in Boston. We didn’t have many journalists calling us, and talking about “strategic nonviolent action” (as I called it then) would frequently result in a perplexed look and the end of a conversation. We were considered a small niche field, not well understood, and not fitting clearly within a policy framework or larger body of scholarly literature. But activists from around the world loved us, visited us, and eagerly downloaded the work we put online. Their excitement was palpable.
Fifteen years later, world events, new scholarship, and new questions have driven demand for knowledge about civil resistance among practitioners, scholars, members of the policy community, journalists, and others. For over a decade, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict has dedicated itself to supporting the growth of the field, getting to know people within it, and staying on top of new developments.
A blog is the next step. We want “Minds of the Movement” to be a go-to source for all comers to find interesting ideas, analysis, commentary, research, and people who work in civil resistance. We want to make ideas and knowledge accessible and practical, with emphasis on answering the “so what does it mean?” question for our readers.
This will be a multi-author blog, with a variety of voices. We will draw on diverse contributors from across the spectrum—interdisciplinary and worldwide—to share their views on what the field of civil resistance means for them—and what they think it should mean for all of us. Whether analysis of a movement in a particular country, an interview with an activist, practical recommendations for journalists or policymakers, or groundbreaking new research, we want to cover it.
Looking at the growth of nonviolent movements around the world since 2000, this much is clear: if we want to say we understand the state of the world, we have to understand something about the role of grassroots civil resistance movements. They shape national and international realities, and research shows that their progress often has a significant impact on furthering rights, freedom, and justice. At the same time, we also can’t avert our eyes from the backsliding and losses that can result from movements. For example, the aftermath of the Arab uprisings in many countries is un-ignorable, and must be better understood.
As we pursue these and other issues, we aim to inform with fact-based inquiry, insights from practitioners, and social science research. By also featuring interviews, we hope to lend more depth to this field, and show the inspiring actions and courage of those on the ground.
Thank you for coming and being part of this community. We encourage you to share your thoughts with us.
Welcome to “Minds of the Movement.”
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons. Taiwan's Sunflower Student Movement, 2014.
Hardy Merriman is President of ICNC. He has worked in the field of civil resistance for nearly 15 years, presenting at workshops for activists and organizers around the world; speaking widely with academics, journalists, and members of international organizations; and developing resources for practitioners and scholars.Read More