Collective Behavior & Social Movements

Critical Mass is the newsletter of the Section of Collective Behavior and Social Movements. The current editors are Daniel McClymonds and Stacy Williams. Please send all your ideas, feedback, and submissions to cbsmnews@gmail.com.

Highlander’s Mission: Social Justice

by Aldon Morris, Northwestern University

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

The
historically important Highlander
Research and Education Center was deliberately attacked. On March
29, 2019, an early morning fire destroyed its executive office building along
with historic documents, speeches, artifacts and memorabilia stored there.
Although an investigation of the arson continues, all indications point to a
white supremacy group as the perpetrator.

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How “More Cowbell, More Cowbell” Worked! Disruptive Tactics and the Outcome of the UIUC Labor Protest

by Amirhossein Teimouri, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

In
late February 2018, I found myself joining fellow graduate students in a strike
on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The
strike at the UIUC was a rare opportunity for a student-led labor movement to
rise against the corporatization of the public education. Although this was a
campus-wide movement without nation-wide repercussions, participants and
activists integrated the movement to a broader nation-wide public education
unrest.

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Social Media in a Controversial Student Election: New Frontiers for Political Strife

by Anson Au, University of Toronto

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

During the 2018-2019 academic year, Carol (name
changed to protect her identity) ran for student president at one of the largest universities in
Canada. Her platform was dressed up in the usual rhetoric for campaigns
in student elections: fighting for more resources for students, ensuring students’
voices were heard and represented, and so on. But Carol was also vocal in
advocating for the freedom of an ethnic group in China, making the
controversial claim that the territory should be politically autonomous and
separated from China and that the cultural history of this ethnic group was so
distinct that they deserved independence.

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Students vs. Tuition Hikes

by Didem Türkoğlu, UNC Chapel Hill

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

Students
protest tuitions. Perhaps more so than ever. The photos from the protests in
Chile, Canada, and South Africa come to mind quickly. Then there are less
globally covered student protests in Germany and Turkey. What makes these
student protests so significant? In a forthcoming special issue in Current Sociology, scholars focus on case studies from the global north and the global
south to provide answers to this question.

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Student Activism Shaping the Preservation of Confederate Monuments at UNC-Chapel Hill

by Emily H.A. Yen, Trinity College

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

The violent death of Heather Heyer at the Unite the Right rally lead by torch-carrying White nationalists protesting the proposed removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia shifted the national discourse around White supremacy and the public display of Confederate monuments. Confederate monuments are particularly controversial since the vast majority of them were built after the Supreme Court upheld the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision (Southern Poverty Law Center 2019) and were a way for White southerners to venerate an alternative narrative of the origins of the Civil War and assert racial dominance in the Jim Crow South. The United Daughters of the Confederacy’s fundraising of the 8-foot bronze statue on University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) campus and its dedication by Julian Carr, a UNC Trustee and Confederate veteran who supported the Ku Klux Klan, in 1913 reflects this larger movement (Farzan 2018). The statue known as “Silent Sam” has been a focal point of recent campus debates around racial justice, White supremacy, and free speech, but generations of UNC students have been protesting its presence on campus for over 50 years. The most recent wave of student activism led to the statue’s physical toppling in August 2018 and spurred an ongoing debate around the preservation of its symbolic legacy.

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