This panel explores the routes to power of radical and revolutionary political movements, asking to what extent 20th century revolutionary legacies encourage, suppress, or co-opt subsequent struggles. Drawing on global examples we examine complex long-term implications of projects for social change.
Over the last century revolutionary movements have formed or joined political power across the world. Yet, few movements radicalize when coming to power. Instead, many succumb to processes of rapid institutionalization and, ultimately, may become or support authoritarian and/or neoliberal social orders. To explore such contradictions, we present ethnographic case-studies of historical and contemporary revolutionary movements from around the world. We scrutinize continuities and ruptures in their trajectories in the context of newly acquired responsibilities and authority. We discuss how revolutionary impetus and charisma can be preserved in the aftermath or continuation of sociopolitical struggle. With Victor Turner we ask to what extent anti-structures harden back to structures, and what space is left for social change. With Partha Chatterjee we inquire how new elites use the institutionalized tools of civil society to obstruct the politics of the governed. With James Holston we ask how the work of new movements stake out a form of "insurgent citizenship" in light of past struggles and current inequalities. Across diverse examples we examine the long-term implications of revolution on social change. We ask how past revolutionary movements relate to the grassroots: do they curtail interactions, co-opt old supporters, or retains links with larger constituencies? Do they follow up or renege on their pre-revolution promises vis-a-vis structural constraints and demands of "real politics"? Do they draw upon repertoires of engagement from their revolutionary struggles for legitimacy? Do they create "radical distinctions" to defend newly acquired privilege? And, what space remains for dissent or critique?