2018-2019 Global Development Studies Senior Thesis Projects

Kat Cunningham '19

Project Title: Activism as Development: The Socially Transformative Power of Student Feminisms Throughout the Americas during the ‘Long Sixties'

Summary: Little attention has been paid by scholars to the contributions that activism has made to push forward social and political development, although a variety of theorists have called for such an investigation. Activism has been regularly undermined and prosecuted, especially within the context of a Cold War era fear of socialist and communist activity. These fears and restrictions erase the contributions that activism has made to social and political progress throughout most of human history. The aim of this paper is to focus attention on activism within the development community, and to assert that more safe spaces for civic action and political dissent are needed. Indeed, in their pursuit of concrete political goals, dedication to radical democratic values, and willingness to engage in critic and renegotiation of societal structuring, activist networks, particularly student feminist organizations, have been fundamentally engaged in the project of development. Recognizing activism as a form of development is one step in alleviating the social and political stigma against protest and demonstration, shifting instead to the social utility of civic engagement.