Studying Politics outside & against Institutional Power
The Contentious Politics Workshop is a forum for dialogue between research students and faculty, currently from anthropology, history, politics, and sociology, with a shared interest in phenomena of political mobilisation outside and against the corridors of power. In our conceptualisation, contentious politics is a broad field ranging from traditional forms of collective action and labour mobilisation to popular resistance, armed struggle, social movements, uprisings and revolutions. We believe that this necessitates a mode of enquiry that is interdisciplinary, historicising, and spatially encompassing.
The workshop especially seeks to enable a discussion of contentious politics beyond the focus of classical "Social Movement Theory" research on well organised forms of mobilisation that “rationally” navigate a political field that is understood as liberal and democratic. We believe that, by broadening our purview theoretically as well as through empirical foci outside of Europe and North America, the field can move towards greater attention to issues that have thus far received less systematic treatment. These include, but are not limited to, (global) subaltern social groups, power in its hegemonic and discursive articulations, the role of intellectual labour, normative commitments and ideology, the formation and coherence of autonomous spaces, both materially and ideationally, as well as of the actors that populate them, and questions of creative agency.
As such, many of us seek to understand popular and contentious politics within, but as crucially holding the potential of breaking out of, structural and dispositional constraints - or hegemonic formations and subjectivities. We hope for the workshop to become a place to think about contentious politics and popular mobilisation as sites of genuine human creativity and possible alterity - rather than merely as outcomes of structural strains, political opportunities, and organisational capacities as well as predefined meanings, strategies, and forms of rationality. Due attention needs to be paid to how such potentiality gets in turn contained, co-opted, or excluded. But we believe that such a perspective holds the potential for understanding more profoundly how contentious politics can be a site of agency, history, politics, and potentially of emancipatory change.
Michaelmas Term 2021/22 Programme
13 October 2021
Baptiste Dufournet (Universite de Lausanne) Constructing one's political itentionality as gay activists: how do mind and institutions shape political action
20 October 2021
Maya Adereth (LSE Sociology) Friendly societies and comparative class formation in the UK and US at the turn of the 20th century
27 October 2021
Dr Sokphea Young (UCL) The consequences of social movements and authoritatian survival in Southeast Asia
10 November 2021
Jack McGinn (LSE Sociology) Rhizome in Motion: The Rural in the Syrian Revolution
17 November 2021
Diego Sazo (LSE Government) Why Protest Turns into Riots: Evidence for South America
24 November 2021
Iman Dawood (LSE Government) TBA
1 December 2021
Tony Neil (LSE International Development) Ceasefires: The Continuation of War by Other Means. A cross-case comparison from Myanmar
8 December 2021
Doğukan Dere (Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University) Collective Resistance and Counter-Space in Shanties of Istanbul: A Comparative Analysis of 1 Mayis and Küçük Armutlu Neighbourhoods
All presentations will be held on Zoom. Please see below details on how to join.
Join the Discussion
Members of all social science disciplines and constituent colleges of the University of London and further afield are welcome to join the workshop. We are an open forum and keen for you to get in touch with us if you are interested in attending or in presenting your work. To be put on the mailing list and receive information about events and readings, please email one of the coordinators: Özgün Aksakal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rune Wriedt Larsen (email@example.com).
The workshop functions as a reading group for research students and faculty to discuss a relevant, pre-agreed text, as well as providing a seminar space to present ongoing research. We meet every Wednesday from 1:00 to 2:00 pm during LSE term times; this term (Michaelmas 2021/22), we will be hosting the sessions online. The brevity of the sessions is chosen on purpose to enable more people to join over their lunch break. However, we tend to carry our discussions forward in an informal setting after the officially allotted time. While two of us act as coordinators, there is no hierarchy in the workshop and our first session in every term is used to jointly decide what texts we want to read and discuss. This is not meant to be another “ready-for-consumption” format but a forum that reflects the interests of those who get involved and that develops together with them. So please always feel free to make suggestions for readings or guest speakers!
History of the Workshop
The LSE Contentious Politics Doctoral Workshop was established in 2012 by Neil Ketchley (Oxford) and Nawal Mustafa (LSE) to provide a research space for faculty and students in and around London working on phenomena ranging from popular resistance and armed struggle to social movements and revolutions. From the beginning, the workshop’s agenda was participant-driven. And while foci have thus changed over time, the workshop’s core mission remains providing a forum that facilitates discussions which are meaningful to the research projects of its members. The workshop’s activities have included various formats enabling such discussion and exchange, including presentations of ongoing work by research students and faculty, inviting guest speakers, and a reading group.