The panel invites ethnographic accounts on protests, groups in conflict with the society or ground level insights into large scale movements and shifts in states of mind leading to shifts in the states and societies.
States change rarely without external impetus. It takes more, even if the global forces combine to aid in this process: it takes motivation, people, sometimes individuals, coming together or acting in ways that bring about a transformation. The last decades have demonstrated how such shifts can lead to momentous crises for states assumed to be stable, such as socialist regimes. The last years have seen transformations in a variety of aspects of statecraft in many countries across the globe, most recently in the US and the UK. Those shifts are expressed on the ground or grassroots level. These are open to ethnographic research, which seeks to explore the complex reasons for such changes and social dynamics.
This panel welcomes ethnographic accounts and/or theoretical discussions on the triggers of the shifts, either in the form of anger, disappointment, despondence or conflict with the state in the present, or the promises, expectations or hopes for the future. Further, the panel will focus on the groups or individuals triggering shifts, from protest movements, subcultural groups and charismatic individuals to silent and passive dissent or disapproval or simply patient shifts away from the dominant ideologies, coming to light in crucial moments in the process of democracy. We also welcome attention to changes in both states as political entities and in states of mind with transformative potential.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Suburban dissent: the anatomy of a community protest and political resistance
This paper outlines how one Australian neighbourhood, and its political allies, came together over a number of decades to protest the inclusion of various groups in their community. An analysis of the campaigns reveals which groups are unwanted in their community and the tactics for excluding them.
The community of West Guildford has a history of standing up for their rights that goes back to the days of the early Swan River Settlement in Western Australia.
I conducted a historical review of a campaign by the community in the 1990s to prevent a pre-release women's prison facility being built in the neighbourhood, and an online ethnography of a more recent campaign against the building of a disability justice centre in the same locale. I also reflect on the campaigns as a past resident of the community and regular traveller through it.
In analyzing the campaigns I draw on Vered Amit's (2012) concept of 'disjuncture' as, in effect, the opposite of community; a failure to achieve community inadvertently or, in these cases, deliberately. Amit suggests 'disjunctures' can be as ambiguous as the concept of community but remain useful 'for thinking about the desires, possibilities and practices through which people seek to modulate or rework their social relationships' (42). She argues that 'disjunctures' can be re/inforced by time, space (place), deflection and redefinition (35), all of which were evident in these campaigns.
These protests were, and still are, deeply embedded in state politics, but a number of politically and socially marginalised groups, including people with disabilities, are revealed to be vulnerable targets in these grassroots protests.
The potent presence of absence: the mobilisation of victims' rights organisations in contemporary Spain
This paper explores the complex ways in which the theft, trafficking and illegal adoptions of thousands of new born babies in Spain's past offer new understandings of the significance of absence for the victims in contemporary society.
Based on ethnographic research, this paper analyses the ways in which 'absences' have shaped the present for the living victims of the theft and illegal adoptions of 300,000 new born babies that occurred in Spain between the early Franco dictatorship era and the 1990s. Over a period of five decades, elements working within the most powerful social, religious and judicial institutions in Spain changed their perception of vulnerable birth parents and their babies from that of human subjects to objects of manipulation, commodification and significant financial gain.
Absence is a potent notion, both as a profound human experience, and as a motivational force for victims' rights organisations that first mobilised in major cities throughout Spain in early 2015. In the framework of 'absences', this paper presents some of the complex processes in which certain social and political ideologies and practices in Spain emerge and continue to shape the present for the victims. I aim to demonstrate how 'absences' can be converted into an organised social force that motivates the objectives and actions of the victims' rights organisations that call for accountability from the Spanish State. In this context, absences perform a labour and intensify the protesters' engagement based on what is strikingly not present. This profound void relates to a missing child, sibling or biological parents, but also a deficit of information, a lack of investigation and justice, and the absence of State and international recognition of the child thefts as human rights violations.
Conflict and change: cases from a project
I will present early data from two projects on the context and potential of conflict between groups.(One of) the in-depth example(s) will be drawn from a region in Estonia, where some locals reject dominant nativism.Two projects combined help untangling the potential of conflict in achieving change.
Conflict arises in various forms, ranging from overt political or personal arguments, to indirect challenges that certain issues trigger. I will look at the context of conflictual issues which would aggravate the interpersonal or intergroup differences in opinion and approach, and the results of this.
The data combines a number of different cases from two projects, one of which spans several European countries, the other concentrates on South Eastern Estonia's Seto region. The European data is drawn from qualitative studies of youth groups in conflict with the society; the Estonian data considers the context of social dispossession in the rural regions that has risen from fragmentation and stratification of the post-Soviet years. The national attempts to solve local economic, societal and political issues have supported ethnic diversity and "nativist" groups, creating dominant cultural elites in some regions. This has, however, coincided with newly emerging class issues, and has led to opposing sentiments amongst those not committed to the nativist cause. The discourses and practices that collide in relation to this are particularly informative when considered in the light of the essence of the European case studies concentrating on youth, a group frequently perceived, managed but also studied as a conflictual entity. The studies will be combined to see whether such conflictuous presence in the society might have potential and promise for a meaningful and fruitful shift in the society, benefitting all, or whether, and if so, why, it might simply lead to reinforced challenges for the weaker group(s).
Contextualising the Adivasis struggle in the Indian state
Seventy years of long struggle within the Indian State and the Adivasis are still fighting for their rightful political place, upholding their cultural rights.
The Adivasis of Central Tribal India have locked their horns against the most powerful democracy in the sub-continent, india, asserting all that they have left this time. The Indian State since 1990 have strategically moved into the Adivasi heartland, constructing pseudo enemies and is waging a war against the people of the country. The Adivasis who have preferred to live with their socio-cultural practices and their political institutions are threatened by the inroad of State forces walking into their everyday living spaces. They are protesting against their takeover of land and their political rights. The Indian State's economic policy along with the underlying feudal character of the ruling elite seems to have built a trio--industrial-military-State nexus. And it is this nexus which is standing opposite the protesting Adivasis.
"Forward Together - Not One Step Back!": finding inspiration, solidarity and power in North Carolina's protests
From rallies to town hall events, sit-ins to advocacy days, this paper seeks to capture the ways in which the citizens of North Carolina have used the political, social and economic power of wide-scale protest as a key component of collective action for change.
From rallies to town hall events, sit-ins to advocacy days, this paper seeks to capture the ways in which the citizens of North Carolina have used the political, social and economic power of wide-scale protest as a key component of collective action for change. For North Carolinians, whose history is deeply rooted in colonialism, slavery, and Jim Crow-era segregation, citizen engagement through activism has become increasingly more consequential, influencing the movement and pace of several key legislative initiatives, with both positive and adverse outcomes. Particularly for left-leaning politicians and constituents alike, the recent rise of modern conservatism has led many who were not previously active in their community to now join an organization, attend a rally, contact their representative to voice their concerns on upcoming policy votes, and even consider running for office themselves, reigniting a particular kind of vocal collectivity that has not been seen in the United States since the freedom movements of the mid-twentieth century.
Based on research during 2016 and early 2017 in Raleigh, North Carolina, with a group of left-leaning female elected officials, mostly women of color, my ethnographic project seeks to explore the ways in which women work, interact and are understood in a modern, political environment; and in North Carolina, a large part of this political life involves activism, advocacy and political protest. This paper represents a path through which my project explores the places at which life and legislation, the personal and the political, and the symbolic and the system overlap.
A decade after collapse: Iceland's shifting social, political & economic state
This paper explores Iceland's shifting social, political & economic state following the financial and government collapse of 2008-09. It argues that many Icelanders have begun to shift attention away from the state's center and towards initiatives that promote the needs & aspirations of the people.
This paper explores Iceland's shifting social, political and economic state following the collapse of the country's banking sector and government administration in 2008-09. After becoming independent from Denmark in 1944 and through the introduction of neoliberal economics in the late 1980s, the nation's economy strengthened and Icelander's grew accustomed to very high standards of living. Yet in October of 2008, this sense of social and economic security came to an abrupt end with the collapse of the country's three major banks and revelation of insidious greed and corruption by a small but powerful elite group within Iceland. What's more, the incumbent government was seen to fail in preventing the economic collapse and in their response in the days and weeks following. Feelings of anger, frustration and abandonment resulted in mass protests and the fracturing of Icelandic society as Icelanders sought to work out what had gone wrong and who was to blame. While much has been written about people's immediate responses to the threat of economic ruin, this paper provides ethnographic insights into Iceland's social, political and economic state as it has shifted and changed over the last decade. Working with the testimonies and experiences of Icelandic citizens and citizen-led political and economic movements, this paper argues that many Icelanders have now begun to shift attention away from the democratic and neoliberal agents of the state's center and towards personal, familial, local and creative initiatives that promote the needs and aspirations of the people.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.