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Article

Gender and Racial Violence Against Afro-Brazilian LGBTQ+ Women  

Jaimee A. Swift

Afro-Brazilian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) women are often neglected in political and academic discourses on state-sanctioned violence. Despite global imagery and nationalist narratives that portray Brazil as racially democratic and sexually inclusive of its LGBTQ+ communities, Afro-Brazilian LGBTQ+ women disproportionately endure state-sponsored terror and violence in communities compounded by structural anti-LGBTQ+ and antiblack subalternity. Brazil houses the largest Afro-descendant populous in the world outside the African continent. Yet, law enforcement routinely targets and murders Afro-Brazilians in what is considered by many black Brazilian activists to be a “black genocide.” The country also has one of the highest rates of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes and murders in the world, which heavily impacts its robust Afro-descendant LGBTQ+ community. As victims and survivors of police terror, community violence, and antiblack and gendered structural inequities, Afro-Brazilian LGBTQ+ women and their activism against repressive machinations of state violence, anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, and socioeconomic and political injustices is rarely discussed in scholarship on transnational, black political movement building. The chronic undertheorization of Afro-Brazilian LGBTQ+ women’s voices, lives, and scholarship has omitted their saliency as sociopolitical and intellectual agents of change in the field of black politics and influential articulators of the black radical tradition in Brazil. In examining the politics of gender, sexuality, race, violence, citizenship, and political resistance in Brazil, it is imperative to center Afro-Brazilian LGBTQ+ women’s political significance in Latin America and beyond.

Article

Antimicrobial Resistance as a Global Health Crisis  

Erik Baekkeskov, Olivier Rubin, Louise Munkholm, and Wesal Zaman

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health crisis estimated to be responsible for 700,000 yearly deaths worldwide. Since the World Health Assembly adopted a Global Action Plan on AMR in 2015, national governments in more than 120 countries have developed national action plans. Notwithstanding this progress, AMR still has limited political commitment, and existing global efforts may be too slow to counter its rise. The article presents five characteristics of the global AMR health crisis that complicate the translation from global attention to effective global initiatives. AMR is (a) a transboundary crisis that suffers from collective action problems, (b) a super wicked and creeping crisis, (c) the product of trying to solve other global threats, (d) suffering from lack of advocacy, and (e) producing distributional and ethical dilemmas. Applying these five different crisis lenses, the article reviews central global initiatives, including the Global Action Plan on AMR and the recommendations of the Interagency Coordination Group on AMR. It argues that the five crisis lenses offer useful entry points for social science analyses that further nuance the existing global governance debate of AMR as a global health crisis.

Article

Historical Approaches to African Politics  

Steven Pierce

Since the late 1980s, historians have paid increasing attention to party politics and political movements in Africa. Recent work has emphasized the importance of World War II in transforming political constituencies, mobilizing opposition to colonial regimes, and encouraging new political imaginaries. Documenting these processes has also enabled a richer appreciation of the complexity of African publics, and the ongoing power demanded and asserted by women as well as men, non-elites as well as elites. In this way, the role of history has often been to tell important stories from the bottom up. Africanist historians’ interdisciplinary research methodologies, emphasizing local discourses and cultural frames, have also contributed to an increased understanding of the specificities of political participation and state practices in African countries. In turn, these insights represent a useful addition to—and in some cases revision of—existing accounts of “weak” African states and other notions of African dysfunction.

Article

Communication Technology and African Politics  

Sharath Srinivasan and Stephanie Diepeveen

From global amplifications of local protests on social media to disinformation campaigns and transformative state surveillance capabilities, digital communications are changing the ways in which politics works in Africa and how and with whom power accrues. Yet while digital information technology and media are relatively new, the role of communication in state power and resistance on the continent is not. The “digital revolution” provokes us to better account for this past to understand a rapidly changing present. From language and script, to print and broadcast, to mobile applications and digital databases, how information is circulated, processed, and stored is central to political power on the African continent. The story of political change in Africa cannot be told without attention to how power manifests with and through changes in the technologies that enable these communication practices. A communication technology perspective on the study of politics in Africa provides a more sober analysis of how power relations circumscribe the possibilities of political change than more normative approaches would. Even so, a communication approach allows for social and ideational factors to mix with material ones in explaining the possibilities of such change. Communication technologies have been central to what political actors in Africa from the precolonial past to the early 21st century can and cannot do, and to how political change comes about. Explorations across time, political era, and technological development in Africa allow us to unpack this relationship. In the precolonial period, across forms of centralized and decentralized political organization, oral communication modalities reflected and enabled fluid and radial logics of authority and power relations. Changes in moral and practical ideas for political organization occurred amid early encounters with traders and Islamic scholars and texts and the movement of people to, from, and within the continent. Colonialism, which heavily focused on narrow extractive aims, required alien central authorities to overcome the vulnerability of their rule through knowledge production and information control. Equally, the same communication technologies valued by colonial authority—intermediaries, print, radio—became means through which resistance ideas circulated and movements were mobilized. In independent Africa, political aims may have changed, but communication infrastructures and their vulnerabilities were inherited. The predicament facing postcolonial governments had a communications dimension. Later, their ability to forge rule through control and allegiance had to contend with a globalizing information economy and demands for media pluralism. A communications perspective on the history of power on the African continent therefore guides a fuller understanding of change and continuity in politics in a digital age by drawing attention to the means and meanings by which legitimacy, authority, and belonging have continued to be produced and negotiated. Transnational configurations of information flows, global political economy logics of accumulation and security, and communicative terrains for contesting authority and mobilizing alternatives have been shown to possess both distinctly new characteristics and enduring logics.

Article

Revolutions and Constitutional Crisis  

Johannes Vüllers

Revolutionary actions and constitutional crises are closely linked. However, research mainly looks at the two phenomena as distinct from each other. While studies on revolutionary actions are interested in the agency and the impact of the actions on the country’s institutions, legal research focuses on the constitution itself. The separation of the two strands leads to a limited understanding of their dynamics and complexity. What do we know about the relationship between revolutionary actions and constitutional crisis, and vice versa? The first question is how revolutionary actions trigger constitutional crisis, defined as a moment in which decision makers are unwilling or unable to manage the societal conflicts within the confinement of the constitutionally provided boundaries. Different types of revolutionary behavior—such as elite-led military coups, civil wars, and nonviolent resistance movements—trigger constitutional crises in many cases. They can lead to a new constitution with diverse implications for the political system. Whether the opposition or the old regime prevails in the constitutional crisis is a question of the power resources of both parties to the conflict. In some cases, the opposition movements succeed in making the political system more democratic. However, there are also cases where the constitutional crisis ultimately leads to more power for the ruling class. The relationship also works vice versa: a constitutional crisis can trigger revolutionary actions. Constitutional coups, and processes of democratic backsliding and constitutional rot, can trigger violent and nonviolent revolutionary actions. Political elites can try to change constitutional norms for their own benefit, such as extending the presidential term of office. This often leads to a storm of public protest and can become a real threat to the regime’s survival. A constitution can enter a crisis phase for a long time if it no longer serves the needs of parts of society. The injustices that thus arise within society can be a strong motive for revolutions. The combination of agency and constitutional processes is a promising avenue for future research that could help analyze the complex relationship between constitutional crises and revolutionary actions. In addition to innovative theoretical approaches, new empirical data is needed to examine the process of constitutional negotiation in more detail.

Article

Political Song in Africa  

Liz Gunner

Song is not a topic that is automatically associated with politics in many countries in the world. If it is, it may be an occasional association, one linked perhaps to times of war and the marching songs of soldiers, or to the rise to power of a particular leader who might manipulate his followers by appealing to their love of a particular brand of folk heritage and so to love of a nation. In Africa, however, song and the political are closely associated, and it is true to say that in many African nations a knowledge of how political song works is essential to being part of a particular community or political party, or even to having a sense of who one is and where one comes from. Some might even say that if you cannot sing, in a political sense you are not a fully operational member of society. Song in Africa has a presence in the political space and the public sphere of many countries, but it need not be evident all the time. It can be a resource that knowledgeable citizens draw on at times of pressure or of celebration or even of mourning, when, for instance, singing for a lost leader provides comfort to singers and the wider community alike. A nation can grieve in song, as was the case in South Africa at the death of former president Nelson Mandela. Political song can be a veritable arsenal of energy for those struggling for a better order, and it features frequently in histories of the nationalist struggles of the 1950s and 1960s on the continent, particularly in southern Africa. It has a place too in the histories of the continent’s cities, which were often centers of dynamic growth and social change, where it provides a rich mix of political music and popular culture. The many different expressions and guises of political song on the African continent are in some ways as unpredictable as they are prevalent. Political song has also a certain fragility. Certain bodies of song can be passed over, erased, or substituted by those more dominant. If song can encapsulate memories, ideas, events, and people, those songs can also fall away. Song can in a sense enable a community to imagine itself, and change and sometimes a particular gifted singer can bring about this shift of class, consciousness, and identity, as is the case in the late-19th-century community in Zanzibar. It can also be used as a weapon of protest and defiance in times of struggle, but also as a means of control. All these points about political song in Africa illustrate why it is important as a topic of research.

Article

Chad: Armed Presidents and Politics  

Ketil Hansen

Politics in Chad was militarized at the time of colonial conquest and has remained so ever since. Except for the French-supported candidacy of François Tombalbaye for the presidency in 1960, all other presidents of Chad have been connected to a coup d’état. All presidents in independent Chad have relied heavily on armed support, creating ample armies, feared presidential guards, and terrifying secret services. Proxy wars, political mistrust, economic opportunity-seeking, and strategic ever-changing armed alliances characterize Chadian politics. Flexibility and fluidity have embodied the heart of armed resistance in Chad since the establishment of the first important politico-military rebel movement Frolinat in 1966. In fact, for rebels and powerholders alike, the state is at its best when it is most fragile (in a Western sense). With fragility comes blurriness and flexibility and thus predation opportunities. During the Cold War, most of the various armed fractions were supported militarily and economically by either the United States and France or Libyan Colonel Gaddafi and the regime in Khartoum. During Habré’s regime (1982–1990), the Cold War heated Chad. Fearing to lose Chad to the communists or “crazy” Colonel Gaddafi, the United States and France supported a brutal and ruthless Chadian president who ruled with terror and force. The current president, Déby, gained power in the wake of the Cold War and has managed to keep it ever since by cleverly changing his rhetoric from a hope for democracy to a fear of war, both internally and internationally. After starting to export oil in 2003, Chad has used petrodollars to upgrade its armed forces, both in numbers and in materiel. Since about 2010, Chad has been a prime EU- and US-financed antiterrorism force in the Sahel. With its courageous troops, especially the former Presidential Guard, transformed in 2005 to Direction Générale de Service de Sécurité des Institutions de l’État (DGSSIE) and from 2014 led by Mahamat Déby, son of President Déby, Chad’s army has gained international fame. The Chadian army has benefited largely from the tactical training and military equipment provided by the United States and France in the name of antiterrorism. Thus, by the end of the 2010s, Chad had one of the best-equipped and trained armies in Africa.

Article

Resistance to Extractivism and Megaprojects in Latin America  

Manuela L. Picq

It is extremely dangerous to resist extractive megaprojects in Latin America. The intensive accumulation of natural resources for export on global markets has long characterized Latin America, but the boom in exports of raw commodities since 2000 has accentuated a violent history of dispossession. As of 2020, Latin America represents 60% of nature defenders killed in the world. Governments license natural resources at unprecedented rates, pushing land- and water-grabbing to new levels. Resistance against mining, oil, hydroelectric, and agribusiness projects is framed as antidevelopment and repressed with brutal violence. Governments are expanding the extractive frontier fast, promoting megaprojects in the name of national development or to fund social policies, a so-called redistributive neo-extractivism. This extractive consensus has increased social conflict across the region; but it has also inspired new forms of resistance. Resistance, which is mostly Indigenous and largely female, is a political struggle against extractive industries that represent ongoing forms of colonial dispossession. Resistance against extractivism focuses on the defense of nature as much as on rights to self-determination, a central element to shape a postextractive world. Ecuador is a case in point. The country recognizes international rights to prior consultation and established the first rights of nature framework in the world, yet it criminalizes nature defenders as it continues to expand the extractive frontier. The emerging rights of nature framework, like mining bans, are alternatives to extractivism that offer insights into experiences of resistance in the highlands of Ecuador. The Rio Blanco mine, an iconic megaproject financed by China, was suspended in 2018 thanks to a solid network of resistance that secured a broad mobilization of rural communities and urban youth, lawyers and academics, blending street protest with legal action. The Rio Blanco case shows the complementarity of various strategies, the potential of courts as allies, and the powerful coordination between social movements and government to contest structural dispossession.

Article

Valkyrie: The Anti-Nazi Underground in the Wehrmacht, 1938–1945  

Danny Orbach

Most Germans supported Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship between 1933 and 1945. Yet, a small group of officers and politicians who did not support Hitler formed a clandestine anti-Nazi underground. Retrospectively known as the German Resistance Movement, it began its activity in 1938 with a desperate attempt to prevent war in Europe and culminated in the coup d’état and failed assassination attempt on Hitler of July 20, 1944. The resistance was led by General Ludwig Beck, former chief of the general staff, who resigned in 1938 because of significant disagreements with Hitler’s foreign policy. Beck supervised the work of three successive military directors, Colonel Hans Oster, Colonel Henning von Tresckow, and Colonel Claus Schenck von Stauffenberg. All three attempted to overthrow the Nazi regime, with different strategies shaped by the structure of their conspiratorial networks and the pressure of wartime conditions. Oster, a senior officer in the military intelligence service, tried to exploit his connections in the general staff to stage a coup in the name of the entire army. Tresckow led a vanguard underground of loosely connected cliques, designed to assassinate Hitler and then exploit the ensuing chaos to take power. Stauffenberg led a “wheel conspiracy,” a highly centralized underground, thinly spread over large parts of the Nazi empire. Under his leadership, the movement staged the famous coup of July 20, 1944. While the evidence clearly shows that the conspirators acted out of principled opposition to Nazi policies, their precise motives are still controversial. Were they moved by disgust at National Socialist war crimes, or more by the patriotic goal of saving Germany from a doomed war? In fact, the worldview of most conspirators saw the universal and the national as closely intertwined. This particular style of patriotic morality and moralistic patriotism is a key to understanding their motives, as well as to the debate on their complicity in National Socialist war crimes.

Article

Student Movements in Latin America: Decolonizing and Feminizing Education and Life  

Sara C. Motta, Norma Lucia Bermudez Gomez, Katia Valenzuela Fuentes, and Ella Simone Dixon

Student movements and radical education collectives across Latin America, building on traditions of radical, popular, feminist, and Indigenizing education, are seeking the democratization of the politics of knowledge and education in their regional contexts. Drawing on the cases of Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, it is possible to map and conceptualize a clear autonomous/decolonizing strand within the broader weaving of students’ movements, looking at the pedagogies of emancipation that underpin and are emergent in their praxis. The process of researching such movements and their politics of knowledge involves a decolonizing and pedagogical approach that embeds the co-creation of knowledges for transformation between researcher and movements. This builds upon work related to prefigurative epistemologies and decolonizing pedagogies of movement scholars such as Motta, Bermúdez, and Valenzuela Fuentes. It foregrounds the work of Neplanteras, of whom Gloria Anzaldúa speaks, those who bridge communities, sociabilities, epistemologies, and subjects on the margins. Nepantleras, as Anzaldúa continues, “are threshold people, those who move within and among multiple worlds and use their movements in the service of transformation.” Our collaborative research as Nepantleras has identified three broad themes emergent across these political and deeply pedagogical educational struggles and experiences. First is the practices, ethics, and experiences that foreground the prefigurative and horizontal nature of the politics of decolonizing and autonomous knowledge being co-created. Second is the feminization of resistance, involving both the emergence and centering of women and feminized subjects in movement and collective struggles, and the feminization of politics and knowledge making. Third is the key role played by affect and an embodied/enfleshed politics in the three cases, and how they foster the democratization, feminization, and decolonization of education and everyday life.

Article

Dynamics, Endogeneity, and Complexity in Protest Campaigns  

Karen A. Rasler

There is an argument that nonviolent civil resistance or protest campaigns should be studied as dynamic and complex phenomenon, rather than a single case comprised of various attributes, such as size, scale, and scope, which are then compared with other cases. As protest campaigns have increased all over the world during the last few years, international relations scholars have begun to devote more time and resources to studying them systematically with new data projects and analytical tools and methods. In light of this emerging research program, one needs to understand that protest campaigns contain large-scale processes of political contention that evolve across time and space. Such evolutionary processes are the result of the interactive relationships among multiple governmental and nongovernmental actors. These interactions reflect “highly interdependent sets of actions and reactions” that generate causal mechanisms and intersect with other large-scale processes which can produce similar and dissimilar outcomes across different political contexts. An argument will be advanced that a “relational mechanisms-process” approach articulated by McAdam, Tarrow, and Tilly provides analytical leverage over such complexity. Most, international relations scholars, unlike social movement scholars, are not familiar with this approach. So, the effort herein is to not only make the case for a relational mechanisms-process approach but also to illustrate it with a partial analysis of the Egyptian uprising on January 25, 2011, which led to Mubarak’s resignation. The end result is a call for theoretical and empirical research that bridges two communities of scholars, one that is dominated by sociologists (social movement scholars) and the other that is dominated by political science (international relations political violence scholars).