Why do political activists (and especially their movement’s leaders) fight against dictatorship and for political change even under high risk of imprisonment, torture or capital punishment? Given the repertoire of intimidation and repression available to authoritarian incumbents, fighting against their rule can come at a high cost, endangering the well-being of individual activists as well as that of their closest allies. The long-term detentions of leading opponents to authoritarian rule such as Nelson Mandela, or Aung San Suu Kyi and the recent death of the human rights activist and Nobel Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo provide striking examples.
In recent years, scholars from different disciplinary angles have increasingly turned their attention to political activism in autocracies. Studying the emergence, and endurance of political activism and social movements, scholars from sociology and political science focus on political opportunities such as regime structures, socio-economic context, and external support, as well as pre-existing social networks, previous protest experience, and existing communication channels to explain political activism. Anthropologists and ethnologists investigate political activism as a socio-cultural practice that is strongly rooted in local contexts while being also mobile beyond national borders. Researchers in the field of political psychology prefer to highlight personality traits such as values, attitudes, and self-attributed personality characteristics to study individual activism.
This workshop intends to bring these different perspectives together in order to comprehensively analyse and explain the reasons, motivation and mobilization mechanisms of political activism and its leadership in autocracies. The workshop might serve as the starting point for creating an inter-disciplinary scholarly network on political activism in autocracies.
Workshop: Why to fight against dictatorship at high personal costs? Studying political activism and its leadership in autocracies
When: 17 & 18 January 2019
Where: Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), Baseler Straße 27-31, 60329 Frankfurt
The workshop is not open to the public.
The workshop is organized by PD Dr. Sonja Grimm (U Konstanz/U Basel) and Dr. Annika Elena Poppe (PRIF) in cooperation with the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) and financially supported by the German Research Network External Democracy Promotion (EDP) funded by the Leibniz Association.