Professor Smithey’s and Prof. Paddon Rhoads’ honors seminars were covered in this story by Ryan Dougherty about the honors program during the pandemic.
“Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Sociology Lee Smithey invited six authors to join his honors seminar on nonviolent civil resistance. Students heard the inside story from the writers whose books they were reading.“The results were pretty special,” says Smithey, whose hybrid seminar was held both online and, on warmer days, on the lawn outside Trotter Hall. “And the authors were each impressed with their conversation with the students and the level at which our students engaged the literature.”
Peace and Conflict Studies Professor Lee Smithey Explores the Use of Repression—and How It Can Backfire
Lee Smithey, associate professor of peace & conflict studies and sociology, is a co-editor and contributor to a new book, The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements (Syracuse University Press, 2018), that offers an in-depth exploration of the use of repression in political arenas and its unintended effect of sometimes fanning the flames of nonviolent resistance.
“The concept of backfire, or the paradox of repression, is widely understood to be fundamental to strategic nonviolent action, but it has not been fully investigated. It was work that needed to be done,” says Smithey, who in addition to writing and teaching about nonviolent resistance has also participated in peaceful protests. “Power is not only about repression but also about building public support.”
The book, edited by Smithey and Lester Kurtz, a George Mason University sociology professor, is meant as a tool for scholars and activists to understand how repression works, as well as to study significant incidents when nonviolent activists took measures to help make repression a defining moment. For example: “When authorities are seen as attacking or disrespecting widely shared symbols, they may mobilize people in defense of shared collective identities,” write Smithey and Kurtz.
The editors first wrote about the topic in 1999, but organizing for the new book began in 2009—bringing together diverse, global contributors to study how repression can energize nonviolent movements and how nonviolent activists have worked to manage repression in their favor. It includes the grassroots efforts of nonviolent resistance such as Women of Zimbabwe Arise, who bravely joined forces as “mothers of the nation” to stand against dictator Robert Mugabe.
As they planned the book, Smithey and Kurtz organized a two-day writing retreat for the contributors to help build an integrated approach to the project. “It was intellectually exciting,” Smithey says. “We were committed early on to making this book a collaboration between academics and practitioners.”
One practice the book’s authors explore is called repression management—enacted by withstanding or avoiding repression or by creating scenarios in which repression against nonviolent activists would more likely elicit a sense of public outrage (and ultimately support).
One example, Smithey says, is the now-iconic photo of Ieshia Evans, who stood stoically in a flowing dress and faced a line of law enforcement officers in riot gear as she protested the shooting death of Alton Sterling. The photo, taken in downtown Baton Rouge, La., on July 9, 2016, quickly became a cultural touchstone.
The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements also examines the psychological costs for agents of repression, elites’ attempts to avoid triggering the paradox of repression, repression of online activism, and the work of overcoming fear.
“Repression is an attempt to demobilize nonviolent movements by sowing fear,” Smithey says, “but activists can work together to overcome fear and continue to mobilize.”
Please join us for a talk *tonight* by Swarthmore alum and Occupy Wall Street co-creator Micah White ’04.
Why Do Protests Fail?
Thursday March 30, 7-8:30 PM
Science Center 101
While an editor at Adbusters, White co-created the original idea for Occupy Wall Street. Building off his experience in and research on activism (including while a student at Swarthmore College during the Iraq War), White wrote The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolutionhttps://endofprotest.com/.
In this talk, White will develop his theory of why contemporary protests fail to bring their desired change. In doing so, he will reflect on how activists can learn from these failures and build more effective social movements.
This event is free and open to the public. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Co-sponsored by Sociology & Anthropology, The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, The Intercultural Center, Swarthmore Libraries,
Peace & Conflict Studies, Environmental Studies, Computer Science, Film & Media Studies, Political Science, The Daily Gazette, War News Radio, Swarthmore Anti-Capitalist Collective, Swarthmore Democrats, Swarthmore College Computer Society, and Forum for Free Speech
Fall 2015 Special Lecture An Evening with Poet and Activist Sonia Sanchez Discussing Social Movements such as #BlackLivesMatter
Award-Winning Poet, Playwright, and Activist. One of the most prominent writers of the Black Arts movement, Dr. Sonia Sanchez speaks internationally on black culture and literature, women’s liberation, peace, and racial justice.
November 18, 2015 7:00PM
LPAC Pearson Hall Theater
Swarthmore College (Directions)
Book Sale & Signing *Cash Only
Co-Sponsored by: Office of the President, Black Studies Program, Dean’s Office, English Literature Department, Intercultural Center, LatinX Heritage Month Committee, Swarthmore African-American Student Society (SASS)
Our Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies course (PEAC 015) will meet on Mon/Wed/Fri 9:30-10:20. You can view and download a flyer at http://bit.ly/intropeaceflyer (Click the gear icon at the bottom of the screen.)
Enrollment for fall courses is coming up on Monday, and we are happy to announce that, with the hire of a new faculty member in the History department, Rosie Bsheer, three new courses may be counted toward a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies.
This course examines the political and social history of oil since the late nineteenth century, looking at oil’s impact on the rise and fall of empires, the fates of nation-states, its role in war, as well as its varied impact on social and cultural life. This course addresses global trends and processes, from Venezuela to Indonesia and the Niger Delta, but the primary focus will be on the Middle East.
Fall 2013. Bsheer.
May be counted toward a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies
HIST 017. Social Movements in the Arab World
May be counted toward a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies
HIST 006B. The Making of the Modern Middle East*
This survey course is designed at once to introduce students to the broader historical narratives and historiographical debates associated with major local, regional, and global events and processes that have most profoundly affected the political, social, cultural, and intellectual realities, past and present, of the modern Middle East. We will draw on readings from various disciplinary areas, including history, anthropology, politics, and literature.
From our friends at the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility:
Come learn how to defeat corporations with your barehands!
Next Monday, April 15, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m., Daniel Hunter, a training elder with Training for Change (the group that leads the Organizing Skills Institute), will join us in the Keith Room @ the Lang Center to discuss his new book “Strategy & Soul: A Campaigner’s Tale of Fighting Billionaires, Corrupt Officials and Philadelphia Casinos.”
FYI – From Amazon.com: “When Daniel Hunter and Jethro Heiko began planning at a kitchen table, they knew that their movement would be outspent by hundreds of millions of dollars. They were up against powerful elected officials, private investigators, hired thugs, and the state supreme court. Even before they started, newspapers concluded the movement had no chance. This riveting David versus Goliath story is a rare first-person narrative, giving unparalled access to the behind-the-scenes of campaigns: the fervent worrying in late-night meetings, yelling matches behind church benches, and last-minute action planning outside judges? chambers. It?s in the heat of these moments that the nuances of strategy come to life, showing what it takes to overpower billionaires for a cause you believe in. Written by an experienced and unusually self-reflective direct action organizer, this book might be the most enjoyable way you?ve ever empowered yourself to change the world.”
Occupy protesters were evicted in Philadelphia and Los Angeles overnight. We’ll get an update on the latest news of the confrontations between protesters and police and we’ll take stock of the Occupy movement, what it’s done and failed to do, how it fits into U.S. political mainstream and social movement history, and how it doesn’t, and the messages the campaign has sought to project vs. the message we in the media have conveyed vs. the messages received by the public at large. Joining us in studio is GEORGE LAKEY, longtime nonviolence activist, founder of Training for Change and research associate at Swarthmore College’s Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. And we’ll also hear from WILL MARSHALL, president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute, a leading intellectual of the American centrist left and a critic of the Occupy movement. And finally, we’ll hear from MATTATHIAS SCHWARTZ, a writer whose examination of the roots and dynamics of the Occupy movement, “Pre-Occupied,” was published in this week’s The New Yorker.