POLISCI 795E Seminar – Activism, Participation & Protest

Day and Time:
Tu 5:30-8:00

This course examines the multiple, often competing, ways in which scholars have theorized how diverse kinds of collective actors both shape and are (re)shaped by politics. Drawing on select case studies, principally from Latin America, Europe, and the U.S., and varied theoretical approaches from a range of disciplines - including not only several subfields in Political Science, but also Sociology, Anthropology, Feminist Studies, Geography, African Diaspora Studies, History, Cultural Studies, and more- we will explore the following questions, centered on Activism, Participation, and Protest (APP, for our purposes): What does political activism look like? How do we know it when we see it? What does activism entail? (e.g. demonstrating, protesting, signing petitions, canvassing, doing graffiti, engaging in civil disobedience, drafting policy briefs, living alternatively, running for office, crashing windows) How/when/why does one form/modality of APP shift to another? (e.g. protest to participation) Where does APP happen? In the streets, in civil society, in participatory institutions, on the internet, elsewhere, all of the above? What forms of collective action/activism constitute what 20th century social science called "social movements"? Are other concepts available to characterize today's activism? What frameworks might we need to develop to better apprehend contemporary forms of APP? What modalities of APP are most effective, why, and to what ends? When and how does collective action shift scales, from local, to national, to global and (sometimes) back again? How and why do contemporary protests/mobilizations emerge? What is the role of the larger political, organizational, discursive environment in that emergence? How and why do they decline, "fail," or end? Do they have "afterlives"? If so, what are their effects? How do we assess APP success? APP failure? How does the policing/militarization and criminalization of protest affect mobilizational outcomes? How do shifting concepts and discourses regarding diverse forms of collective action reflect changing theoretical and political agendas in different disciplinary arenas and on national, regional and transnational scales?

Prerequisite: Open to Graduate students, SENIOR POLISCI Majors, & CLACLS Certificate students with permission of the Instructor. Instructor can be reached at: (soniaa@polsci.umass.edu)

Percentage of Latin American, Caribbean, or Latino Content: