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Digital Activism, Physical Activism

Malta’s Front Harsien ODZ

Michael Briguglio

This article analyzes the interaction between the digital (online) and physical (offline) activism of Front Harsien ODZ, a Maltese environmental movement organization. It looks into how Front activists perceive these forms of activism and verifies how important each form is to the organization. Consequently, the research presented herein is operationalized through interviews with Front activists and through participant observation from an insider’s point of view. This article concludes that activists within Front Harsien ODZ feel that they are part of a social network. The organization’s recruitment, mobilization and activism techniques are at once digital and physical. Most Front activists were already part of preexisting social networks before joining the Front, and the new Front network made good use of Malta’s political opportunity structures, including the Zonqor controversy; Malta’s small size; and the country’s vibrant media landscape.

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Tanja Bukovčan

In this paper I explore the link between research into contemporary alternative medical practices (CAM) and activism. It is based on my recent research (2004-2007) which dealt with the interrelatedness and coexistence of biomedical and non-biomedical systems in the city of Zagreb. The process of adoption and introduction of CAM to Western European countries started some twenty years ago and in Zagreb the process was evident after the fall of communism. My research started with patients and their attitudes towards illness, health, well-being and suffering, factors that determined their choice of therapies and healers. However, hearing stories of people's experiences of CAM propelled me into the role of therapist as listener and, through attending to the silence surrounding the use of CAM in a relatively hostile society, the role of anthropologist as activist. Through the process of understanding and interpreting sensitive cultural practices, I explore whether anthropologists are uniquely placed to actively protect the rights of people to whom they owe their science.

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Heather A. Came

Glenn Laverack (2013) Health activism: Foundations and strategies, London: Sage Publications, pp. 175, ISBN: 978-1-4462-4964-2.

As a long-time public health activist I was pleased to see Laverack’s new book focussing on health activism. To date, there have been only a handful of texts available suitable for tertiary students, the most notable being Cwikel’s (2006) substantial work. The bulk of health activist texts consist of speciality texts about women’s health, HIV/AIDS activism and the ongoing fight against big tobacco. Laverack’s text serves its purpose in addressing a gap in the market for a generic introduction to public health activism.

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Rebecca Scales

Through the history of the short-lived 1947 radio show La Tribune de l’Invalide, this article examines how the social and political context of the Liberation offered disability activists a unique opportunity to demand pensions, medical care, and social services hitherto denied to them by the French state. Drawing on transcripts of the broadcasts and correspondence between listeners and the show’s host Maurice Didier, the article demonstrates how disability activists played a pivotal, if little acknowledged, role in the construction of the postwar welfare state by highlighting French society’s historic neglect of disabled civilians.

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Robert W. Montgomery

This article investigates the upsurge in political and social activism among the Buriats of Siberia's Lake Baikal region during Russia's 1905 Revolution (broadly defined as 1905 to 1907). Specific topics include the Buriats' struggles for their ancestral lands and traditional political structures, and against Russification and discrimination; the activities of the Buriat intelligentsia; the holding of Buriat national congresses; participation in radical and liberal movements; the use of Buddhism as a national symbol; attempts to nativize education; and participation in the early Duma system.

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Phil Tattersall

Conflict over natural resource usage has been ongoing in Tasmania for many years. There continues to be considerable community concern, disquiet and conflict over forestry management practices. In an analysis of his numerous community support projects the author saw an opportunity to involve community members in decisions relating to natural resource management. An interest in action research led him to propose a form of activism based on the ideas of post-normal science (PNS). The idea of the extended peer review aspect of post-normal science has been used in the development of a participative inquiry methodology known as community-based auditing (CBA). The contributions to theory and practice of PNS and environmental activism are thought to be significant. Several cases are briefly discussed.

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An Act is Worth a Thousand Words

A Place For Public Action And Civic Engagement in Deliberative Democracy

Steven Douglas Maloney and Joshua A. Miller

In this paper, we argue that deliberative democrats have too narrow a conception of the political, but that 'activism' as it is normally understood is not sufficiently broad, either. Politics is not reducible to coercion and contestation, but rather to the constitution of our shared world. We contend that active citizenship more often takes the form of working in a rape crisis center or a domestic violence clinic than participating in marches or town meetings.

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Cristina Grasseni

This article presents qualitative and quantitative findings on provisioning activism in Italy, focusing on Solidarity Purchase Groups (Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, GAS). By using quantitative data about GAS growth, numerical consistence and economic impact and through ethnographic insights based on prolonged fieldwork, it identifies the GAS movement as an ecological, economic and political counterculture. I discuss the implications for policy efforts at the regional and state level, highlighting both potentials and shortcomings of promoting GAS as means to sustainable development. In particular, I identify the issues of trust, informality and direct democracy as distinctive of GAS practice. However, this positions solidarity economy vis-à-vis policymaking in a potentially oppositional rather than interlocutory stance.

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Lawyers against the Law

The Challenge of Turkish Lawyering Associations

Joakim Parslow

Despite increasing subordination of the judiciary to executive authorities, Turkish cause lawyering associations are more assertive than ever in their defiance of forced closures and legal persecution. Why would activist lawyers ‘play the game’ of law when the legal system is being undermined? Focusing on the historical genesis of Turkey’s oldest activist lawyering association, the Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği (ÇHD), I argue that Turkish legal activism results from not just clashing political causes but also the strategies attorneys are forced to adopt to effect change within an authoritarian-corporatist structure designed to constrict their activities. The ÇHD and similar groups are not merely extensions of the formal juridical order; they also constitute a grassroots engagement with the law that refuses to conform to the categories, narratives, procedures and ends of the state’s legal institutions.

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Understanding Urban Social Movements in Cognitive Capitalism

Methodological Reflections on Participatory and Ethnographic Research

Marion Hamm

The concept of participation is currently evoked by constituencies as varied as urban planners, local governments, universities and social movements. This coincides with a revival of participatory research methods in the social and cultural sciences. This article argues that the critical potential of participatory research methods should not be taken for granted in cognitive capitalism, where participation is as much an instrument for governmental regulation from above as it is a practice for democratic self-determination from below. First, the politics of participation from the emancipatory departures of the 1970s to today's revival are being discussed. Second, based on a long-term ethnographic study on the transnational Euromayday movement of the precarious, it is demonstrated how positioning the researcher using reflexive ethnography can support a critical research attitude through a process of reflexive hybridisation. In concluding, reflexive activist scholarship is outlined as a critical research attitude which encourages participatory knowledge production in a way that responds both to the field of activism and the field of academia.