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.
Live ICNC Academic Webinar *Thursday, April 30, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm EDT
Presented by: Gerardo Gonzalez, Sociologist and Lecturer at Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) and the Universidad Metropolitana
This webinar talk will analyze the civic struggle in Venezuela that took place in 2014. Using Peter Ackerman and Hardy Merriman‘s Checklist for Ending Tyranny, the presentation will evaluate the skill-based and organizational capabilities of protesters as well as trends of nonviolent conflict in the country last year. Although Venezuela´s political crisis has received significant international media attention, no scientific analysis has been done on the relationship between civil resistance, nonviolent action and political polarization in the country. The webinar will examine the interactions between different actors involved in the conflict, tactics employed by protesters, and analyze why organizers failed to meet their goals. The Venezuelan opposition led by the student movements, opposition parties, civic organizations and parts of civil society planned a number of civil resistance actions but their efforts to expand participation and protest activities were hampered by media censorship and, more importantly, by a lack of nonviolent discipline. Violence undermined the momentum of the movement and helped support the narrative put forth by the government. Finally, the webinar will discuss challenges and opportunities for public dissent and mobilization in spaces where communication and information are censored and societal distrust among two equally divided and opposing groups is high, which are the characteristic features of Venezuelan society.
*This webinar has been rescheduled due to technical difficulties that were encountered during the original presentation date on April 14. We apologize for the inconvenience. The technical issues have since been resolved, so we encourage interested individual to re-register for the new presentation date using the link below.
Enforced disappearance has been used by undemocratic and democratic regimes as well as violent groups for decades. It is considered one of the most severe crimes because it consists of simultaneous violations of various interrelated human rights norms and has widespread pernicious psychosocial effects on the society. Despite the terrible impact, enforced disappearances have not necessarily led to civic disempowerment. On the contrary, the relatives of the disappeared persons have often engaged in strategic collective actions as a way to resist nonviolently the crime and its demobilizing effects. Those most affected have created solidarity groups or mutual aid associations to help victims’ families, confront perpetrators and raise awareness about disappearances. Various nonviolent actions of defiance mobilized people, made violations visible not only on a domestic but also an international stage and, in some cases, imposed costs and constraints on governments that resulted in the adoption of search protocols, passing new anti-disappearance legislation, or acknowledgement of crimes committed by responsible authorities. Arguably, in some cases these efforts have even been successful in preventing further disappearances. This webinar will present various examples of nonviolent organizing and actions against forced disappearances and their role and impact.
Live ICNC Academic Webinar Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
Presented by: Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of San Francisco; Co-Chair, ICNC Academic Advisors Committee
Not all successful unarmed civil insurrections against dictatorships take place in a dramatic mass uprising with hundreds of thousands occupying central squares in the capital city. There have also been cases of nonviolent struggles against autocratic regimes that failed to topple the dictatorship in a revolutionary wave, but did succeed in forcing a series of legal, constitutional, and institutional reforms over a period of several years which eventually evolved into a liberal democratic order. These more gradualist transitions have taken place across different regions and against different kinds of authoritarian systems. This webinar will tell the story of pro-democracy movements in three of these countries— Brazil, South Korea, and Kenya —and how they were able to force, over time, autocratic governments to agree to substantive democratic reforms. By focusing on the role of civil society this presentation challenges dominant, top-down, institution and elite-based approaches to democratization.
Live ICNC Academic Webinar Thursday, March 19, 2015 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST
Presented by: Barry L. Gan, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Nonviolence at St. Bonaventure University
The concept of civil resistance presumes the notion of a large-scale struggle as a means to initiate a sustained political change. These struggles must be multilayered, in that they should not aim primarily to disrupt an adversary's business but rather to transform a society as a whole. Additionally, they should be multidimensional, consisting of direct as well as constructive nonviolent actions. But the typical actions by which civil resistance has been practiced in recent years, most notably in the Arab Spring, have been aimed at power at the top, an approach that ignores a key principle of nonviolent action-that power resides in the masses. They seem to have neglected that the emotions of people who sit on the fence, who are neither with the power structure nor opposed to it, play a major role in power shifts. And ultimately, a change merely in power at the top means no real change in the institutional structures that oppress people in the first place. Meaningful change requires a longer-term approach directed at changing the mind-sets of the masses of people and at changing institutions, not necessarily the officials in those institutions. In the end, it is a continued development of new understandings of power, wielded from the bottom up, developed democratically, practiced over time, understood by many, that will change an oppressive culture.
Recorded discussion from live ICNC webinar conducted on February 26, 2015
Police brutality and militarization have reached crisis proportions for people of color in the United States. Youth, students, clergy, educators, lawyers, civil rights leaders, and hundreds of community grassroots coalitions and national organizations have come together to nonviolently resist repressive violence and a lack of accountability through mass organizing, rallies, teach-ins, protests, speakouts, and marches. Consciousness and mobilization are spreading and scaling-up, particularly on college campuses. The narrative and discourse about policing and laws are changing in cities and towns across the nation. What is the vision of this peaceful civil resistance movement? What strategies, goals and methods are being tried in the Ferguson-St. Louis area of Missouri? How can the movement ensure nonviolent discipline among its participants? What is this movement seeking as redress against police repression and overreach? What is the movement's real adversary? How must the movement define its interactions with the police? What cutting-edge, long-term solutions will keep our communities safe and united? This webinar will aim to address these questions in addition to discussing community dialogues and truth telling hearings (see http://www.thetruthtellingproject.org/) that have been organized in St. Louis, Missouri for March 13-15th, 2015, following a historic 50th Anniversary march on the bridge in Selma Alabama.
-Pastor Cori Bush, Kingdom Embassy International -Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Civil Rights Activist and Distinguished Senior Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University -Dr. David Ragland, Visiting Professor at Bucknell University -Barbara J. Wien, Professorial Lecturer at American University
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.