1995-96 ASC Seminar on Social Movements in a Globalizing World
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More than ever before, social movements in the contemporary world cross national boundaries and are implicated in global affairs. Collective protests in Eastern Europe, for example, were an important factor in ending Moscows military domination of that region. More recently, radio operators in Krakow broadcasting support for Chechen fighters confronted Polands government with a dilemma: should Poland place diplomatic relations with its greatest potential military threat ahead of its commitment to an open public sphere and its centuries-old tradition as a supporter of anti-imperial movements?
Other examples from around the world abound. When the Gulf War broke out in 1991, demonstrations against the war occurred in many countries with considerable variation in intensity. In some, France and Germany, for instance, the demonstrations were extensive and initially had wide support from established parties and institutions. In others, like Holland, the demonstrations were quite limited from the start, partly because Dutch public opinion was very pro-Israel and was concerned about the military risks Iraq presented to Israel. When the student movement of the 1960s spread around the world, repertoires and grievances were spread both by media images and by direct contact among student leaders from different nations. Since that time the human rights movement has involved not only mobilization of populations within nations against the illegal or repressive behavior of governments, but also the creation and mobilization of a network of international organizations associated with, but also somewhat autonomous from states.
To give one last example, the growth of the Islamic fundamentalist movement ramifies across national boundaries, not only in areas where the adherents want to establish Islamic states, but also into societies where followers of Islam can only claim the rights of a minority, but with it challenge liberal conventions in defining multiculturalism.
Although there has been an international dimension to many earlier movementsafter all the American revolution attracted support from abroad and the movements to abolish slavery and to establish democracy in the 19th century were not just national movements in organization or visionmany more movements today have global implications. Most scholarly traditions, however, remain focused on the Western national state. With this years Advanced Studies Center Seminar, we shall rethink social movements in a global context, by considering the transnational dimensions of their action, and the cross-regional bases of their variation.
The Advanced Studies Center Seminar, supported by a grant from the Mellon Foundation as well as by the International Institute, brings together doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, and visiting scholars, to explore the global dimensions of social movements and social change. Meeting every Thursday afternoon from 2-5 p.m. throughout the Fall and Winter terms, the seminar is organized around four loosely connected themes, or analytic issues, which reflect the interests of the faculty organizers and current problematics in the analysis of social movements and social change: 1) mobilizing structures and processes, 2) political structure and opportunities, 3) culture, ideology and framing, and 4) the role of intellectuals in the development and transformation of movements.
Mobilizing structures and processes
Collective actions, such as demonstrations, boycotts, and long-term campaigns require the bringing together of activists and adherents, money, and facilities. Drawing on social networks and interpersonal relations, but extending to large organizations that may cross national boundaries, social movements vary widely in their mobilizing structures.
Political structure and opportunity
Both at the level of the national state and the international arena of alliances, international organizations, and compacts, movements are channeled by, facilitated and repressed depending upon the opportunities and structures with which they are confronted. The nature of voting rules and the structure and functioning of political parties, the strength or weakness of the state, changing political coalitions, and the changing dynamics of international relations provide the context and impetus for movement growth or decline.
Culture, framing, and ideologies
The development of symbols and the spread of symbols and frames, such as human rights, or womens reproductive rights, or eco-catastrophe are part of the globalization process. How disparate cultures produce, resist and incorporate frames spread through a world-wide media and interpenetrating commodity and symbolic culture requires a close examination of cultural processes. In particular, the seminar will try to incorporate the methods of cultural studies to transform more traditional modes of ideological and symbolic analyses.
Intellectuality and movements
Modern movements often develop a cadre of professionals and engage a wide range of expertise from bureaucrats to activists. This intellectual dimension of movement politics plays some role in all movements, but it is especially important in transnational movements, as they negotiate with international and national administrative agencies and translate symbols, strategies and practices across cultures.
The seminar will attempt to bring together scholars from history, anthropology, sociology, political science and professional schools as it probes and criticizes the relevance of received theories of social movements.
It will attempt to be reflexive about how scholarly understandings have been shaped by the traditions of national scholarship in which they have emerged.
Among the short term visiting scholars for the Fall semester are Sidney Tarrow (Government, Cornell), who has been a major student of cycles of protest and who has recently been studying such international collective actions as disputes among fisherman from different nations; Jan Kubik (Political Science, Rutgers) and Gregorz Ekiert (Government, Harvard), who are studying strategies of collective protest in democratizing countries of Eastern Europe; Dennis Sullivan (Political Science, Northeastern) and Mohammed El-Sayed (Al-Ahram Center, Cairo), who are studying the human rights movement, Islamic fundamentalism and the state in Egypt; and Timothy Mitchell (Center for Near East Studies, New York University), who has been rethinking basic theoretical concepts relevant to social movement theory, such as power, the state, and the economy. (See announcements of other visiting scholars.)
Three post-doctoral fellows have been appointed and will be in residence for three months or longer: Julie Peteet, an anthropologist from the University of Louisville, is studying community and identity amongst Palestinians in exile in Lebanon; Dieter Rucht, a sociologist from the Wissenshaftszentrum Berlin Fur Sozialforschung, is studying the social and cultural context of movements; and Georgi Derluguian, a sociologist with degrees from Moscow State University and SUNY Binghamton, is studying the conditions of violent conflict and more peaceful resolutions of difference in the Caucusus.
Sawyer Seminar fall program
The Advanced Study Centers Sawyer Seminar, Social Movements and Social Change in a Globalizing World, is offered through a grant from the Mellon Foundation. The Sawyer Seminars are named in honor of the late John H. Sawyer, president of the Mellon Foundation between 1975 and 1987.
This new program is in many ways the intellectual offspring of the Sawyer initiative to infuse new vitality into comparative cultural and historical studies.
The Seminar is open to U-M graduate students who are enrolled for credit in the course (Sociology 525/ crosslisted Anthro 631) and faculty who can make a commitment to participate regularly for a least a term.
All ASC seminars will take place on Thursday afternoons from 2-5 p.m. in 361 Lorch Hall. On the Fridays following an ASC fellows lecture, graduate students research workshops will be held starting at 10 am. During this time, ASC Fellows and students will have a chance to discuss research techniques and other general methodological issues.
The following pre-doctoral students have received Sawyer Seminar Fellowships to participate in this years seminar:
Patrick Ball, Center for Research on Social Organization, U-M; Becky E. Conekin, Department of History, U-M; Scott Frickle, Department of Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Sociology Board of Studies, UC-Santa Cruz; Devika Govindachari, Social Science Program, Syracuse University; John A. Guidry, Department of Political Science, U-M; Carol Kaufman, Populations Studies Center, U-M; and Ming-cheng Lo, Department of Sociology, U-M.
Fellows presenting papers in the Fall
Sidney Tarrow, Department of Government, Cornell University.
Patricia Simpson, Department of Germanic Languages, University of Michigan.
Jan Kubik, Political Science Department, Rutgers University, and Grzegorz Ekiert, Center for European Studies, Harvard University.
Kathryn Sikkink, Political Science, University of Minnesota.
Timothy Mitchell, Center for Near Eastern Studies, New York University.
Dates for the following to be announced:
Mahmood Mamdani, Executive Director, Social Sciences, Center for Basic Research, Kampala.
Julie Peteet, Department of Anthropology, University of Louisville.
Lothar Probst, Institute for German Cultural Studies, University of Bremen.
Michael D. Kennedy and Mayer Zald are co-chairs of the 1995-96 ASC seminar. Kennedy is associate professor of sociology and director of CREES. Zald is professor of sociology, social work, and business administration.