Conference Announcement:
Call for Papers and Workshop Participants
The Comparative Politics Student Group presents: “Social Movements and Contentious Politics: Theories and Methods of Local Protest and Global Activism
7-8 March 2015, Multifaith Centre, University of Toronto
Since the turn of the 21st century, the rise of violent and non-violent protests, increases in popular mobilization, and the proliferation of social movements has led to an increasing understanding of the shared strategies and symbols of dissent. As calls for social justice, human rights, and democracy proliferate traditional and social media, shared strategies and symbols of dissent signify ever-greater connections between local protest and global activism. The increasing awareness of local protest and global activist movements calls for a (re)evaluation of new and existing theories and methods that academics employ to examine contemporary social movements and contentious politics. The Comparative Politics Student Group (CPSG) of the University of Toronto is organizing a morning of workshops, and an afternoon of panel presentations, that address social movement and contentious politics from multi-disciplinary perspectives. We invite participants and presenters to attend the workshops and deliver papers on the following themes:
  • Protest movements and the interconnections between different local, regional, and international symbols and strategies of resistance;
  • The moral and legal implications of political action and dissent in democratic and authoritarian contexts;
  • Social movement theories and methodologies, as well as lessons “from the field;”
  • Comparisons between varieties of contentious episodes.

Other topics that address the broad theme of social movements and contentious politics are most welcome. 

Saba Mahmood (UC Berkeley, Anthropology) will deliver the keynote address on Saturday March 7, 2015. Workshops and paper presentations will take place the following day on Sunday March 8, 2015.
Call for papers: Papers submissions are due at 4:30pm on January 31st, 2015. Submissions should be sent to cpsgconference2015@gmail.com and should be approximately 500 words in length and include a CV and 200-word biography. Notifications will be sent out on February 15th, 2015.
Call for workshop participants: Please register at the link provided. Space is limited. 
8 March 2015, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Since 2010, numerous political, social, and economic transformations have upset scholarly understandings of societal politics in the region. This workshop, led by Associate Professors Paul Kingston, Janine Clark, Francesco Cavatorta, and Marion Boulby, is a multi-disciplinary effort to expand and strengthen our knowledge of how research is conducted in the rapidly changing fieldwork environment of the Middle East and North Africa as well as the challenges and changes to it. Three panelists, all of whom are experts at conducting fieldwork many countries in the Middle East, will discuss their own personal challenges of conducting fieldwork in the Middle East. Most importantly, they will comment on the various changes to the fieldwork environment after the events of the last several years. Each of these scholars comes from a unique perspective in studying societal politics, from a country as well as theoretical perspective, providing a wide breadth of understanding about the challenges to studying social forces in the region.

Dissent 101: The Place of Activism on Campus
8 March 2015, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Universities have been integral to organization, manifestation, and dissent in society.  From Martin Luther to Martin Luther King Jr., from Montreal to Hong Kong to Egypt, powerful activist movements have been born on university campuses.  What role do professors and graduate students have in facilitating activism?  Is it coincidental that activism and dissent have a strong place on university campuses?  Is there a skill set, intellectually or practically, that gets moulded on campus?  Can educators incorporate activism into their research and teaching, or will this only “politicize” the classroom and detract from intellectual responsibilities?  Building on his own experience in teaching an experiential learning course on protest and dissent, Robert Huish discusses the importance of the university to progressive social activism, explores the ethical challenges that arise when lessons of the class go to the street, and advocates that academics should work to bring more experiences of activism into the heart of university education. 

Contentious Politics on the Korean Peninsula: A Workshop for Koreanists
8 March 2015, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
This workshop consists of two groups and four panelists exploring contentious politics in both Koreas. Dr. Adam Cathcart (University of Leeds) and Christopher Green (Leiden University) will present work on contentious politics in North Korea during the Kim Jong-un era, focusing on the government’s use of information strategies, namely “re-defector” press conferences and the Moranbong Band. Professor Jennifer Chun and Judy Han (University of Toronto) will jointly present their latest collaborative work on cultures of protest in the South Korean labor movement.

Studying Social Movements: Data and Debates
8 March 2015, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Professor Lesley Wood will lead a seminar on qualitative methods she has effectively used in her research on social movements. She will give guidance on how graduate students can incorporate techniques including ethnography, interviews, event catalogues, and comparative analysis into their work. She will also talk about the importance and challenges of remaining accountable to movements while doing research about them.

8 March 2015, 12:00PM – 1:30PM

Drawing upon her personal experience conducting field work for her dissertation concerning labor activism in contemporary China, Assistant Professor Diana Fu of the Political Science Department will give a brief presentation on the issues facing scholars conducting ethnographic research. A short excerpt from Professor Fu’s dissertation (which forms the basis of he up-coming book on small-scale labor activism in contemporary China) will be provided to attendees and will serve as a starting point for discussion. While methodological considerations will be addressed, Professor Fu’s remarks will focus largely on practical issues which the academic literature on ethnographic methods tends to overlook.


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