24. Oktober 2018 | News

Call for Papers: „Why to Fight against Dictatorship at high personal costs? Studying Political Activism and its Leadership in Autocracies”

An EDP workshop organized by PD Dr. Sonja Grimm (University of Konstanz/University of Basel) in cooperation with the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt


Date: 17-18 January 2019

Workshop location: Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, Baseler Str. 27-31, 60329 Frankfurt (three minutes walking distance from Frankfurt Central Railway Station)

Conference organizer: PD Dr. Sonja Grimm, (applications to sonja.grimm@uni-konstanz.de)

Deadline for applications: 15 November 2018


Why do political activists (and especially their movement’s leaders) fight against dictatorship and for political change even under high risk of imprisonment, torture or capital punishment? Given the repertoire of intimidation and repression available to authoritarian incumbents, fighting against their rule can come at a high cost, endangering the well-being of individual activists as well as that of their closest allies. The long-term detentions of leading opponents to authoritarian rule such as Nelson Mandela, or Aung San Suu Kyi and the recent death of the human rights activist and Nobel Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo provide striking examples.

In recent years, scholars from different disciplinary angles have increasingly turned their attention to political activism in autocracies. Studying the emergence, and endurance of political activism and social movements, scholars from sociology and political science focus on political opportunities such as regime structures, socio-economic context, and external support, as well as pre-existing social networks, previous protest experience, and existing communication channels to explain political activism. Anthropologists and ethnologists investigate political activism as a socio-cultural practice that is strongly rooted in local contexts while being also mobile beyond national borders. Researchers in the field of political psychology prefer to highlight personality traits such as values, attitudes, and self-attributed personality characteristics to study individual activism. This workshop intends to bring these different perspectives together in order to comprehensively analyse and explain the reasons, motivation and mobilization mechanisms of political activism and its leadership in autocracies.

This workshop calls upon researchers from the social sciences (e.g. political science, sociology, history, anthropology, ethnology, political psychology and related disciplines) to propose papers for presentation upon political activism and its leadership in autocracies. The focus is on political activism that challenges authoritarian incumbents (as for example anti-regime movements, resistance movements, dissident networks, human rights movements, or pro-democracy movements). Papers discussing theoretical frameworks, empirical research (large-n & small-n studies), and methodological advancements as well as contributions considering the challenges of doing field research in authoritarian contexts and discussing related ethical questions are welcomed.

The intended interdisciplinary dialogue shall shed new light upon reasons, motivation and mobilization mechanisms of political activism which challenges authoritarian rule. The workshop might serve as the starting point for creating an inter-disciplinary scholarly network on political activism in autocracies. During the workshop’s discussions and a joint dinner, the participants will have time to explore the options of possibly creating a cooperative research project around the workshop’s topics.

The workshop is organized by PD Dr. Sonja Grimm (University of Konstanz/University of Basel) in cooperation with the Peace Research Institute (PRIF) in Frankfurt and financially supported by the German Research Network External Democracy Promotion (EDP) funded by the Leibniz Association.

The workshop will take place on 17–18 January 2019 at the Peace Research Institute (PRIF), Basler Str. 27, 60329 Frankfurt a.M. Participants are invited to stay at a hotel nearby PRIF and will be reimbursed for travel expenses following the regulations of the German “Bundesreisekostengesetz” (public transport; train ticket 2nd class, preferably with Bahncard; cheap economy flight;). In case of co-authored papers, reimbursement is limited to one author. Two light lunches, a dinner and coffee breaks are included.

To apply for the workshop, please send an abstract of max. 300 words including title, affiliations of all authors and corresponding address to sonja.grimm@uni-konstanz.de at your earliest convenience, but no later than 15 November 2018. The selected proposals will be notified latest by 30 November 2018.


Preliminary Program Draft

Thursday, 17 January 2018

13:00               Arrival & Light Lunch

14:00 -14:15     Welcome & Introduction

14:15-15:45      Panel 1

16:00-17:30      Panel 2

17:45-19:00      Panel 3

19:30                Dinner


Friday, 18 January 2018

9:00-9:15          Welcome & Wrap-up Day 1

9:30-11:00        Panel 4

11:15-12:45      Panel 5

13:00                Light Lunch

14:00                Departure

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