Tuesday, April 24, 2012
12:00pm – 1:00pm EST
In the 1980s, the world was captivated as East Germans brought down the Berlin wall and the Filipino “people power” movement ousted long-standing dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Yet other civil resistance movements during this time failed to achieve political change. Researchers have largely focused on successful nonviolent uprisings. Little attention has been given to those movements that had great potential but did not achieve their goals. In this webinar, Dr. Nepstad explores three cases of failed civil resistance: the Chinese democracy movement of 1989, the struggle against Panamanian dictator General Manuel Noriega (1987-1989), and the attempt in Kenya to oust President Daniel arap Moi (1985-1992).
She highlights internal movement problems that undermined resisters’ effectiveness such as divided leadership, lack of cross-group cooperation, and insufficient nonviolent discipline. She also focuses on regime counter-strategies, including massive repression, maintaining troop loyalty, and the fragmentation of opposition groups. Additionally, Dr. Nepstad examines the impact of international sanctions, showing how they can generate new allies for authoritarian leaders and shift the locus of power from local resisters to international actors. She concludes by discussing what civil resisters can do to prevent these problems: building unity by emphasizing resisters’ shared goals; implementing careful measures to ensure nonviolent discipline, encouraging security force defections by increasing the costs of regime loyalty, and making judicious choices about international involvement.
Sharon Erickson Nepstad is Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado and did post-doctoral studies at Princeton University. She has been a visiting scholar at Notre Dame University’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Her areas of interest are in social movements, civil resistance, and religion. She is the author of numerous articles and three books: Nonviolent Revolutions: Civil Resistance in the Late 20th Century (published in 2011 by Oxford University Press); Religion and War Resistance in the Plowshares Movement (published in 2008, Cambridge University Press); and Convictions of the Soul: Religion, Culture, and Agency in the Central America Solidarity Movement (published in 2004, Oxford University Press). Her book on the Plowshares movement won the 2009 Outstanding Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s section on Peace, War, and Social Conflict.