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National - Event Notice
Thursday January 01 1970
New agendas in social movement studies
Monday June 27, 2011 13:45 by Laurence Cox - NUI Maynooth
Conference announcement and call for papers
Preliminary announcement and call for papers of this day conference for people (academics, students, movement participants) researching social movements in Ireland.
Centre for Politics, Power and Society, Dept of Sociology, NUI Maynooth
Research cluster on “critical political thought, activism and alternative futures”
Keynote speaker: Cristina Flesher Fominaya, University of Aberdeen
“New directions for social movement studies?”
Cristina Flesher Fominaya has done ethnographic research on anti-globalisation networks in western Europe, Spanish Green parties and the British anti-roads movement. She has a particular interest in autonomous social movements as well as the impact of new technologies on movement organisations and the politics of memory surrounding terrorist attacks such as 3/11 in Madrid and 9/11 in New York. She has been researching and participating in European social movements since the early 1990s. Her work has been published in Contemporary Social Science, Sociological Inquiry, Sociology Compass, International Review of Social History, South European Society and Politics, Mediterráneo Económico, International Feminist Journal of Politics and several edited collections.
Dr Flesher Fominaya is a founding editor of Interface, one of only four dedicated social movements research journals, and a referee for two of the other three. Holder of numerous international scholarships and prizes, she holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and worked in Madrid before taking up her current post in Scotland. She is co-chair of the Council for European Studies’ European Social Movements Research Network and a peer reviewer for the IRCHSS post-doctoral fellowship and the CARA mobility fellowship scheme.
Why new agendas in social movement studies?
Writing on social movements in Ireland has often done one of two things – either it has treated social movements as a marginal “add-on” to supposedly more central questions about Irish society or it has “applied” theories and concepts which have been borrowed uncritically, usually from the US or Britain, to Ireland. Unsurprisingly, such research has been largely ignored - in international contexts and the rest of Irish academia, by movement practitioners and in Irish political debate.
Between these extremes, however, there is also work which sees collective agency and social structure as fundamentally symbiotic, work that relates social movement studies to wider social theory, reflects critically on the specifics of social movements in Ireland and also comparatively, and engages with wider currents of thought within social movement research internationally as well as that coming from movements themselves.
This conference aims to encourage work of this kind, which is not simply “routine science”, restating common assumptions, but trying to make real contributions to wider debates about social movements, to the thinking of movement practitioners, and to public understanding of the nature of Irish society. We are interested both in discussions of how we might research social movements - what methods and theories are most useful - and of what we should be researching, in the Irish context and beyond.
We invite papers addressing one or more of the areas below, but we are also open to other research agendas which you feel deserve more attention. The conference is open to participants from any academic discipline as well as to researchers working within social movements.
1) Politics, theory and method
What are the purposes of social movement research? How do theories and methods interact? What relationships (should) exist between researchers and movements? What kinds of knowledge do social movements produce? What theories are generated and used by movement activists? Does movement research have anything useful to say to movements?
2) What are “social movements” anyway?
How can we understand “movement” not just as a type of semi-formal organising, but in ways that allow “social movements” to include micro-level resistance at one end or indeed revolution at the other? How do we relate understandings of social movements in the 19th or early 20th century as trying to create or transform states and institutions to contemporary assumptions about movements as accepting given structures? How can we say something useful about where the boundaries of one movement end and another begin? How do societies change through collective action, and how can we know?
3) Critical cultural analysis
How do past struggles and inherited traditions shape social movements today? How can we integrate discourse, language and culture into the analysis of social movements? How are movements and their discourses gendered, classed and racialised? What is the importance of emotion and affect; trauma, stress and sustainability in shaping movement dynamics and outcomes? And how can social movement research transform cultural and literary studies which often ask these questions without asking after the practicalities of organising, strategy and struggle?
4) Understanding social movements in Ireland
Do Irish movements really operate in a context like the US and UK, or should we be looking to movements in Mediterranean societies or Latin America for comparisons and concepts? What kind of “movement society” is Ireland in international comparison - peripheral, post-colonial, conservative? How does the role of (nationalist, Catholic, farmers’, labour) movements in creating the state enable and constrain contemporary movements? What does the Irish case tell us about movements more broadly and how can it help us understand movements elsewhere?
5) Social movements in the 2010s
How has the crisis shaped social movements – themes, actors, relationships between movements, with parties and the state? Will models of social partnership and mainstreaming survive austerity and coercion? What ‘new’ forms of mobilisation are evident - new technologies, new tactics, and new kinds of relationships between movement actors? How are global movements changing (e.g. transnational anti-capitalism; the Arab Spring; diasporic social movements)? Why has the movement response to the crisis in Ireland been so muted?
Abstracts and papers
We invite abstracts (up to 250 words) on any of the themes above or addressing other themes in social movement studies which you feel deserve greater research. Abstracts should include a title, your email address and institutional affiliation if any (independent scholars and movement practitioners are welcome to submit). Please send abstracts to Theresa O’Keefe at firstname.lastname@example.org by October 1st 2011.
Papers (up to 10,000 words including bibliography) should be submitted by November 14th 2011. Papers which are submitted by the deadline will be included in a CD-ROM for all conference participants, as an immediate “state of the art” collection of who is doing what in Irish social movement studies. (This does not, of course, prevent you using reworked versions of the paper as the basis for articles, book chapters etc.)
Papers which are submitted in time will also be considered for inclusion in an edited volume with an academic publisher.
Detailed information will be made available in due course, but this will be a one-day (Saturday) conference at NUI Maynooth. The event is being organised on behalf of the Critical Political Thought, Activism and Alternative Futures research cluster at NUI Maynooth with an organising committee of Dr Theresa O’Keefe and Dr Laurence Cox (Dept. of Sociology, National University of Ireland Maynooth) and Dr Cristina Flesher Fominaya (Dept. of Sociology, University of Aberdeen).