Presented by Dr. Olena Nikolayenko on February 28, 2018
At the turn of the twenty-first century, a number of nonviolent youth movements were formed to demand political change in repressive political regimes that emerged since the collapse of communism. The Serbian social movement Otpor (Resistance) played a vital role in bringing down Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Inspired by Otpor’s example, similar challenger organizations were formed in the former Soviet republics. The youth movements, however, differed in the extent to which they could mobilize citizens against the authoritarian governments on the eve of national elections. Using data from semi-structured interviews with former movement participants, public opinion polls, government publications, NGO reports, and newspaper articles, this webinar traces state-movement interactions in five post-communist societies: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Serbia, and Ukraine. It is based on the research Olena Nikolayenko conducted for her new book Youth Movements and Elections in Eastern Europe: From Serbia’s Otpor to Azerbaijan’s Maqam.
A central argument in the book–and this webinar–is that tactics adopted by youth movements and incumbent governments influence the level of youth mobilization against the regime. The analysis focuses on three types of movement tactics based upon the target of their action: (1) recruitment tactics targeted at the youth population, (2) tactics vis-à-vis allies, and (3) tactics vis-à-vis opponents. This set of tactics requires a set of capabilities outlined in Peter Ackerman and Hardy Merriman’s “Checklist for Ending Tyranny:” (1) ability to unify people, (2) operational planning, and (3) nonviolent discipline.
Olena Nikolayenko is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. She is also an Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University. Nikolayenko received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Toronto and held visiting appointments at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford University; the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University; and the Department of Sociology, the National University of Kyiv–Mohyla Academy, Ukraine. Her research interests include comparative democratization, social movements, political behavior, women’s activism, and youth, with a regional focus on Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. In her recent book, Youth Movements and Elections in Eastern Europe (Cambridge University Press 2017), she examines tactical interactions between nonviolent youth movements and incumbent governments in five post-communist states: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Serbia, and Ukraine.
Relevant Webinar Readings
Olena Nikolayenko (2018). “Youth Movements and Elections in Eastern Europe,” on H-Net Book Channel’s website.
Olena Nikolayenko, (2012), ‘Tactical Interactions Between Youth Movements and Incumbent Governments in Postcommunist States,” in Sharon Erickson Nepstad, Lester R. Kurtz (ed.) Nonviolent Conflict and Civil Resistance (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Volume 34) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 27 – 61.