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COSMOS Consortium on Social Movements Workshop
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5/27/2013
When: 5/27/2013
Where: European University Institute
Florence
Italy

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Call for papers

Popular culture and protest repertoires in 20th c. Europe

Convenors:
Ilaria Favretto (Professor of Contemporary European History, Kingston University, London)
Xabier Itçaina (CNRS Research fellow-Sciences Po Bordeaux - Marie Curie Fellow European University Institute, Florence)

Donatella della Porta (Professor of Sociology, European University Institute, Florence) will participate as discussant.

In the footsteps of Charles Tilly’s influential study of contentious politics in France and Great Britain, scholars of social movements tend to distinguish between pre-industrial and post-1789 forms of collective action. In early modern Europe, protest repertoires mainly revolved around community-based forms of direct action, which included attacks on property, field invasion, physical violence to persons. Charivari rites in particular, that is rituals of public humiliation through which small communities denounced and sanctioned certain breaches of commonly accepted customary rules, held significant prominence. However, as a result of industrialisation, the rise of the nation-state and the spread of association politics, pre-industrial communitarian forms of protest were to gradually fade away. A new modern repertoire, which included boycotts, barricades, petitions, demonstrations, strikes, came to replace it.

Traditional forms of collective action did not disappear overnight. In particular, political charivari – that is rough music, mock trials, mock funerals, ride on donkeys, shaving, effigy burning or hanging, soiling, etc - continued to be practiced and adapted to new political needs well up to the 20th c. On the model of E. P. Thompson and Natalie Zemon Davis’ seminal work on popular culture(s) and protest, 19th and 20th c. historians and historical anthropologists have well documented the survival and practice of rituals of folk justice in later periods, mostly in the context of 19th c. liberal revolutions, peasant protest, Fascist violence, WWII Resistance movements, 19th c. and 20thc. industrial conflict, nationalist movements and new social movements. However, particularly in the study of 20th c. protest movements, these repertoires have been little investigated and, overall, poorly deciphered.

We believe that a better understanding of old repertoires and their underlying cultures and symbolism is crucial to fully comprehend modern protest. Therefore, the purpose of the workshop is to bring together scholars from different subject areas -historians, social anthropologists, political scientists and social movement scholars- to reflect in an interdisciplinary and comparative European perspective upon the influence of popular cultures and old repertoires of contention on modern protest.

We will address the following questions: To what extent, why and in what kind of contexts traditional pre-industrial repertoires continued to be practiced in the modern period (19th and 20th c.)? How did old repertoires of contention and traditional protest cultures survive industrialisation and urbanisation? Are there any European variations? If so, why? How did old protest routines integrate into modern protest tactics? Which factors account for their use and revival over time? Are there any specific groups of protesters who have practiced these repertoires? How have these repertoires been received and understood by public opinion, the media or political actors such as political parties or trade unions? Contributions to theoretical approaches to the topic will also be welcome.

Please send your proposal (max 400 words; preferably in English) and information about your institutional affiliation and status (100 words) by 21 January 2013 via Email to: Ilaria Favretto (I.Favretto@Kingston.ac.uk) and Xabier Itcaina (Xabier.Itcaina@eui.eu)

Please note that participation at the workshop (that is accommodation and travel expenses) will be self-funded. Selected participants will be expected to send a short version of their paper (1500-2000 words) by 13 May 2013. Provided we find a suitable publisher, we are planning to publish papers (in English) either as an edited volume or as an academic journal special issue. Longer and final versions of papers will be expected by 1 September 2013.


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