Civil resistance is the application of unarmed civilian power using nonviolent methods such as protests, strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, without using or threatening physical harm against the opponent. The use of civil resistance has been increasing around the world in recent decades in places as diverse as Sudan, Algeria, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Egypt, Iran, Maldives, the Niger Delta, the West Bank, Thailand, Myanmar, and the United States, among others. Because civil resistance can have profound effects, it is essential to understand the causes, dynamics, outcomes, and consequences of civil resistance campaigns. Such questions also have clear practical implications for those seeking to use, support, or assist such movements – as well as those who would seek to undermine them.
This course serves as a primer on the topic of civil resistance, introducing students to the primary explanations for how and why civil resistance works, as well as the practical implications of empirical research on the topic for observers, activists, and policymakers alike. The five primary goals of the course are to: (1) present leading explanations, concepts, approaches, and discourses for understanding civil resistance; (2) explore and recover in-depth cases to better understand how civil resistance succeeds and fails; (3) apply empirical research to current questions and controversies that dominate activist and organizer circles; (4) provide students with opportunities to synthesize their knowledge; and (5) allow students to deepen their knowledge about several historical cases around the globe, particularly neglected cases that can offer up novel insights and perspectives.
Also offered by the Divinity School as HDS 3091.