U.S. social movements face many challenges. One of their most troublesome involves the question of nonviolence. Civil disobedience and symbolic protest have characterized many struggles in the U.S. since the Civil Rights era, but conditions have changed. Corporate media has consolidated, the police have militarized, and dissent has been largely co-opted and institutionalized, but the strategic tools radicals employ haven’t necessarily kept pace. Our narratives, borrowed from movements of the past, are falling short.
Shon Meckfessel, professor of English at Highline College, will map emerging, more militant approaches that are developing to fill the gap, from Occupy to Black Lives Matter. He’ll offer new angles on a seemingly intractable debate, introducing ideas that carve out a larger middle ground between camps in order to chart an effective path forward.
Meckfessel is the author of Nonviolence Ain’t What It Used To Be: Unarmed Insurrection and the Rhetoric of Resistance, and has been active in disruptive social movements for nearly 25 years, beginning in his native Sacramento, Calif. After blocking highways to stop the first Persian Gulf War, he was never again inclined to petitionary protest. He has since researched and participated in social movements across the U.S., Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. Meckfessel is also the author of Suffled How It Gush: A North American Anarchist in the Balkans as well as numerous essays and articles. He has appeared as a social movement scholar and advocate in the New York Times and on Democracy Now, Al Jazeera, CNN, NPR, BBC Radio, and KEXP.
Sponsored by Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Department of Politics and Government, Center for Intercultural and Civic Engagement, and Collins Memorial Library