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About Robert R. Sauders

October 18th, 2015

Mapping the Dead in the Latest Israeli-Palestinian Violence

Basma Atassi at Al-Jazeera has put together a great storymap that explores the latest violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Complete with pictures, text and place location, this resource allows you to get a good sense of where, when and how the violence is occurring. Definitely worth a look.

October 16th, 2015

Netanyahu, Context & Responsibility

At the center of this current iteration of violence in Israel and Palestine stands the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has reacted to this violence as if he was surprised that Palestinians would resort to violence when for decades he has done everything within his power to thwart the establishment and growth of a responsible Palestinian civil society, expanded settlements with the explicit aim of crippling an emerging Palestinian state, and undermining the responsible leadership of Mahmoud Abbas at every possible opportunity.

October 8th, 2015

Abbas, Netanyahu and Responsible Leadership

Abbas is demonstrating his commitment to deescalating tensions and calming the violence that is a direct result of Netanyahu’s persistent efforts to whip Israeli society into a panicked frenzy about an existential threat lurking behind every corner.

June 30th, 2015

Our Dictator in Cairo – Abdel Fatah el-Sisi

So, once again, the foreign policy of the US has chosen perceived immediate stability over the somewhat more bumpy and unpredictable evolution of democracy in the Middle East. It’s not the first time we’ve done this… it’s sort of our thing at this point… we’re pro’s out it.

June 22nd, 2015

The Many Victims at Mother Emmanuel

The problem with Gosnell and others who make these arguments is that they believe intentionality serves as some magical “Get out of Jail Free” card that absolves perpetrators of the violence they commit. Further, and in many ways far more problematic, is the realization that Gosnell and others only want to use this logical canard to absolve themselves or other like them. No such compassion regarding intentionality and the multiplicity of victims derived from violence will ever be used with the families of the 9-11 hijackers. In the end, the fundamental mistake that Gosnell and others make over and over again is that they focus on issues of intentionality rather than on issues of responsibility.

March 4th, 2015

Mr. Netanyahu Goes to Congress

There are two things to never forget when considering Netanyahu’s views of regional threats. First, he is desperately seeking his “Churchill moment”. Second, he has a record of being blinded by his own biases and is never, ever a sober analyst of a situation

February 16th, 2015

Cursed Be The Peacemakers?

This video, produced by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, has been released as part of the current Israeli political contest where the extreme right wing of Israel is attempting to maintain the rightist complexion of the Israeli government. For me, the truly offensive aspect of this video is how it makes the case that working for peace between Israelis and Palestinians or defending Palestinian and Israeli human rights somehow makes you a threat to the country.

February 14th, 2015

The Danger of Molly White’s Islamophobia

Rep. White is the new poster child for the anti-Muslim bigotry, Islamic hatred and Islamophobia that is so deeply embedded in American society that it can hide in plain sight.

July 15th, 2014

In Focus: The Gaza Strip

As Israeli bombs are dropped throughout the Gaza Strip and Hamas missiles are launched into Israel, the media coverage has focused on discussing Gaza as a known yet ill-defined entity. We are made aware of roughly where it is (next to Israel), who lives there (Hamas) and what happens there (rockets are made and launched). But this reductionist view of Gaza doesn’t provide any insights into the common, everyday lived experience of the 1.8 million Palestinians who live in the 360 sq. km that makes up the Gaza Strip.

July 14th, 2014

Middle East News Review #28

The Middle East was plagued with news of violence this week. In Israel, Palestine, Iraq and Libya, episodes of violence resulted in death and destruction. Iran continued its negotiations with the US and EU this week in the hopes of reaching an agreement over the country’s nuclear program and removing the economic sanctions that have crippled its economy. In Iraq, violence between the militant group ISIS and the Baghdad government reached new heights as 29 people were found massacred in an apartment and Human Rights Watch condemned the government for mass executions carried out earlier this year. The direct physical violence in Iraq was mirrored this week with political turmoil as the government of Nouri al-Maliki erupted into conflict with the semi-autonomous Kurdish government.

July 11th, 2014

Nations, Borders and American Politics

In reality, borders have neither prevented nor provided for the actualization of nations. Nations have certainly existed within recognized borders, but nations have also existed without established borders.

July 7th, 2014

Will There be a Third Intifada?

Will the violence resulting from the deaths of the three Israeli teens and one Palestinian teen last week lead to the beginning of a third Palestinian intifada (uprising)?

July 7th, 2014

Middle East News Review #27

This week news from the Middle East was dominated with coverage of the deaths of three Israelis and one Palestinian. All were teenagers; all were murdered by terrorists. The news of these deaths resulted in an outpouring of anger, grief and sympathy among people who mourned the unnecessary loss of life. However, some extremists used the deaths to incite hatred and call for violence. Given the intensity with which Israeli, Palestinian and international communities experienced this episode of violence, this week’s Middle East News Review is dedicated to exploring these deaths in more detail.

July 1st, 2014

Will Iraq Break Up?

With ISIS advancing throughout the western part of Iraq and the al-Maliki led government in turmoil, the possibility that Iraq may break into three sovereign states – a Kurdish state in the north, a Shia state in the south and a Sunni state in the west – is growing increasingly real. Unless the al-Maliki government makes fundamental changes to its management of Iraq’s political system and/or the gains made by ISIS are quickly and decisively turned back, then the question must be asked: Will Iraq break up into two or more sovereign states?

June 30th, 2014

Israel’s Reaction to the Death of Three Settlers

On June 30, the Israeli government announced that it had located and identified the bodies of three teenage settlers who had been abducted more than two weeks before. The teens, all yeshiva students in West Bank settlements, had been executed by their captors very shortly after their abduction. The Israeli government has promised a swift and decisive response to the murders.

June 30th, 2014

Middle East News Review #26

Top stories include: 1) more pressure on Iraqi PM al-Maliki; 2) Al Jazeera reporters sentenced to 7 years in prison; 3) Cairo metro bombed; 4) al-Maliki praises Syrian strike on ISIS; and 5) Jordanian cleric acquitted of terrorism charges.

In depth look at the week that was in the Middle East through the “Under the Radar”, “On the Horizon” and “Oddities” sections.

June 23rd, 2014

ISIS in Iraq

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made dramatic gains in Iraq over the past several week. With reports of Iraqi military personnel deserting, foreign embassies pulling their staff and the al-Maliki government preparing for an assault on the capital city of Baghdad, the question that bears asking is whether Baghdad will fall to ISIS.

June 23rd, 2014

Middle East News Review #25

Top stories include: 1) mounting pressure on Iraqi PM al-Maliki; 2) Obama sends 300 military advisors to Iraq; 3) suspect in the Benghazi attacks captured; 4) Israel hammers Hamas as it looks for three abductees; and 5) neocons attempt to rewrite the history of the 2003 Iraq war.

“Under the Radar” includes: 1) Israel approves force-feeding Palestinian prisoners; 2) Egypt releases Al-Jazeera reporter; 3) Egypt confirms death sentence for 184 members of the Muslim Brotherhood and 4) the Presbyterian Church USA approves divestment.

“On the Horizon” includes: 1) Verdict in the Egyptian trial of three Al-Jazeera journalists and 2) Jordan’s mounting refugee problem.

“Oddities” includes: 1) controversy in Israel over an artificial beach in Jerusalem.

June 16th, 2014

Middle East News Review #24

June 9th – June 15th, 2014

This week the Islamic State in Iraq & Syria (ISIS) (aka Islamic State in Iraq & the Levant – ISIL) dominated the news cycle in the Middle East as the Sunni militant group shocked many with their capture of several Iraqi cities and advance towards Baghdad. Given the earthshaking nature of ISIS’ actions, this week’s Middle East News Review is dedicated to exploring different aspects of the events to provide more depth to this momentous development in the region.

June 10th, 2014

Can the Activists Save the Internet?

As the FCC makes plans for a “fast lane” for companies willing to pay for greater broadband access and speed, critics claim the FCC’s proposal will fundamentally alter the egalitarian nature of the Internet. To put it more succinctly, the FCC is about to break the Internet. As public comment on the FCC proposal begins, we can see the rise of activist networks dedicated to preserving net neutrality and spiking the FCC proposal before it becomes the governing law of the Internet. Now the only question is “Can the activists save the Internet?”

June 9th, 2014

Middle East News Review #23

June 2nd – June 8th, 2014

Top stories include: 1) the Bergdahl release controversy; 2) Assad wins Syrian election; 3) former US Ambassador to Syria blasts the Obama administration; 4) Pope Francis holds a prayer meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders; and 5) Israel announces new settlements.

June 2nd, 2014

Middle East News Review #22

May 26th – June 1st, 2014

Top stories include: 1) Sisi wins Egyptian election; 2) Palestinian unity government takes shape; 3) US soldier freed in Taliban prisoner swap; 4) Pope Francis visits Israel and Palestine; and 5) Egyptian stock market plunges.

May 18th, 2014

Middle East News Review #21

May 12th – May 18th, 2014

Top stories include: 1) Friends of Syria meet in London; 2) Militia attacks in Tripoli and dissolves Parliament; 3) Mine explosion in Soma, Turkey kills hundreds; 4) Syrian air defense chief killed in attack; and 5) Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day.

May 12th, 2014

Middle East News Review #20

May 5th – May 11th, 2014

Top stories include: 5) al-Sisi to end the Brotherhood; 4) Saudi blogger is sentenced to 10 years and 1,000 lashes; 3) Homs is evacuated and Aleppo is bombed; 2) Republicans will investigate Benghazi, again; and 1) the Israeli-Palestinian blame game.

May 5th, 2014

Middle East News Review #19

April 28th – May 4th, 2014

Top news stories include: 5) Rice backs out of Rutgers address; 4) MERS spreads out of Saudi Arabia; 3) Abbas condemns the Holocaust; 2) Netanyahu advances bill to define Israel as Jewish; and 1) Kerry says apartheid.

April 30th, 2014

Grassroots & State-Sponsored Activism in Ukraine

Over the past several months, Ukraine has been subjected to intense turmoil as ethnic Russian elements in the country have agitated for increased autonomy after the fall of the pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych’s government in February 2014. A crucial question related to the separatist demonstrations concerns the foundational nature of the protests. Are the participants, as suggested by Putin, simply “local citizens” engaging in acts of political dissent? Or are those engaged in the demonstrations acting under the orders of the Russian government?

April 28th, 2014

Middle East News Review #17

April 21st – April 27th, 2014

Top stories include: 5) Tony Blair speaks out against Islamic extremism; 4) new evidence of Syrian chemical weapons use; 3) continued violence in Iraq; 2) Israel suspends talks with Palestinians; and 1) Hamas and Fatah reconcile.

April 21st, 2014

Middle East News Review #16

April 14th – April 20th, 2014

Top stories include: 5) Algeria’s Bouteflika wins a fourth term; 4) 75% of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile is destroyed; 3) US drone strike kills 13 in Yemen; 2) rising tensions in the Jerusalem’s Old City; and 1) Syrian rebel stronghold of Homs under threat.

April 14th, 2014

Middle East News Review #15

April 7th – April 13th, 2014

Top news stories include: 5) US denies visa to Iran’s UN rep; 4) the collapsing Israeli-Palestinian talks; 3) Israel levels sanctions against the Palestinians; 2) Palestinians join the Geneva Conventions; and 1) Kerry says “poof”.

April 7th, 2014

Middle East News Review #14

March 31st – April 6th, 2014

Top news stories include: 5) tribal violence in Egypt; 4) an end to Libya’s oil crisis; 3) Erdogan’s electoral victory; 2) the possible release of Jonathan Pollard; and 1) the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian talks.

March 31st, 2014

Middle East News Review #13

March 24th – March 30th, 2014

Top news stories include: 5) new evidence in Israel’s weapons seizure; 4) Turkey blocks YouTube; 3) al-Sisi declares himself a presidential candidate; 2) hundreds sentenced to death in Egypt; and 1) the teetering Israeli-Palestinian talks.

March 17th, 2014

Middle East News Review #12

March 10th – March 16th, 2014

Top news stories include: 5) a Jordanian judge killed by Israeli border guards; 4) Shafik declares upcoming Egyptian elections a farce; 3) ouster of the Libyan PM; 2) rising tensions between Israel and Gaza; and 1) the third anniversary of the Syrian civil war.

March 10th, 2014

Middle East News Review #11

March 3rd – March 9th, 2014

Top news stories include: 5) the GCC dispute; 4) the Israeli weapons seizure; 3) Saudi Arabia listing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization ; 2) Arab League rejecting Israel as a Jewish State; and 1) UN criticism of Egypt’s crackdown.

February 24th, 2014

Middle East News Review #10

February 17th – February 24th, 2014

Top news stories include a mortar attack in Iraq, the bombing of a tourist bus in Egypt, the Iranian nuclear negotiations, the trial of journalists in Egypt and the sacking of FSA General Salim Idriss.

February 17th, 2014

Middle East News Review #9

February 10th – February 16th, 2014

Top news stories include Putin’s endorsement of Sisi, Israeli MKs heckling of an EU official, the 35th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, the formation of a Lebanese cabinet and the deadlock in Syrian talks.

February 10th, 2014

Middle East News Review #8

February 3rd – February 9th, 2014

Top news stories include Rouhani’s donation to a Jewish hospital, AIPAC’s Iran sanctions blunder, Sisi’s announcement and retraction of a presidential run, the Human Rights Watch report on abuse in Iraqi prisons and the evacuation of Homs.

February 3rd, 2014

Middle East News Review #7

January 27th – February 2nd, 2014

Top news stories include the hostage crisis in Iraq, Scarlett Johannson’s fallout with Oxfam, Sisi’s maneuvering towards the Egyptian presidency, HRW’s report on home demolitions in Syria, and the Syrian peace talks.

January 31st, 2014

Boycotts, Academic Freedom & the Activist Scholar

In December 2013, the membership of the American Studies Association (ASA), by a 2-1 margin, voted to approve the ASA National Council’s earlier decision to support a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. A core criticism of the boycott put forth by opponents, particularly by university administrators, is that the boycott undermines academic freedom because it effectively bars the free exchange of ideas between ASA members and Israeli institutions.

As scholars, part of our academic freedom lies in the ability to not only engage in contentious debate or pursue provocative research but also to take controversial actions and positions. Few people knowledgeable of the inner workings of higher education would contend that academic freedom is a sacrosanct and inviolable dictum that governs the academy. In reality it is a principled ideal that attempts to thwart the excesses of control in the process of knowledge production and consumption.

January 27th, 2014

Middle East News Review #6

January 20th – January 26th, 2014

Top news stories included the purported al-Qaeda plot foiled in Israel, Middle East leaders at the World Economic Forum, the bombing attack on police in Cairo, the release of photos depicting war crimes in Syria, and the Syrian peace talks.

January 20th, 2014

Middle East News Review #5

January 12th – January 19th, 2014

Top news stories include the funeral of former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon; the Hariri assassination trial in The Hague; the Israeli Defense Minister’s outburst against the Kerry peace initiatives; the state of flux in the Syrian civil war; and the Egyptian constitutional vote.

December 15th, 2013

Middle East News Review #4

December 9th – December 15th, 2013

Top stories include a disruptive winter storm; revelations about a missing ex-FBI agent in Iran; cracks in the Iran nuclear deal; fresh protests in Egypt; and a rapidly changing landscape in the Syrian civil war.

December 15th, 2013

Strike Debt – Building the Debt Resistance Movement

Strike Debt, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street (OWS), is a loose network of activists seeking to build a movement of debt resistors engaged in establishing economic justice and democratic freedom. Debt is a unifying and common thread that connects the majority of people throughout the country and across the world, regardless of their social, political and economic standing or geographic location. In order to counteract the predatory financial system and systemic consequences of debt at all levels in society, Strike Debt seeks to facilitate actions that weaken culpable institutions and undermine the power of the creditor class.

December 9th, 2013

Middle East News Review #3

December 2nd – December 8th, 2013

Top five stories include the escalating sectarian violence in Iraq; the assassination of a senior Hezbollah commander; increasing violence in Yemen; a Day of Rage against Bedouin resettlement in Israel; and reaction to the death of Nelson Mandela.

December 6th, 2013

Understanding the Prawer Plan

The Prawer Plan, Israel’s attempt to relocate 40,000 to 70,000 Bedouins from their traditional lands to government settlements in the Negev Desert, has drawn sharp criticism from human rights and social justice advocates since its inception.

December 1st, 2013

Middle East News Review #2

November 25th – December 1st, 2013

This week’s top five stories include the approval of new housing units in Israel’s West Bank settlements; escalating violence in Iraq; the Syrian opposition’s refusal to join peace talks; US plans to destroy Syrian chemical weapons at sea; and reaction to the Iranian nuclear deal.

November 30th, 2013

SFPD’s Crackdown on Public Chess

Perhaps most troubling is the fact that after the SFPD executed their crackdown on the chess games, drug-related crimes in the 100-meter radius of Market Street between 5th Street and 6th Street didn’t diminish; if anything, there was a slight increase in drug crime after the SFPD action. When the chess games disappeared, drug crime remained in the area; a fact that effectively undermines the SFPD’s entire rationale for shuttering the games. Based on this evidence, it is easy to infer that the motivation for the SFPD’s crackdown was not rooted in drug-related crime; but rather, that a revitalized Market Street, with its throngs of tourists, high-end retail and well-heeled clientele just isn’t the right place for homeless and transient men to be playing chess.

November 24th, 2013

Middle East News Review #1

November 18th – November 24th, 2013

This week’s top five stories include #5) the election of a new chair of Israel’s Labor party; #4) the bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut; #3) OPCW’s plan for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile; #2) diplomatic tensions between Egypt and Turkey; and #1) the agreement reached between Iran and Western powers over the Iranian nuclear program.

October 22nd, 2013

Silencing Dissent in Putin’s Russia

For activists seeking to challenge discriminatory laws, protest government policies, or oppose an entrenched, autocratic political system, contemporary Russia is an inhospitable and dangerous place to participate in acts of collective protest, civil disobedience or political dissent. With the rise of Vladimir Putin as the undisputed political power in Russia, the government has undertaken a vigorous and systematic suppression of social, political and environmental activists. Over the past two years, activists who challenge the policies of the Russian government have experienced stiff consequences – often involving lengthy detentions and prison sentences – in a clear attempt to stifle dissent.

September 24th, 2013

Syria Anti-War Demonstrations: Evolution or Devolution?

In the aftermath of the August 2013 sarin gas attacks that killed several hundred people in the suburbs of Damascus, the United States led an effort to gain international support for a military strike intended to degrade the offensive capabilities of the Syrian military and punish the Assad regime for its purported use of chemical weapons. Resultantly, activists and their networks began grassroots efforts to voice opposition to the prospect of American-led strikes against Syria. As with many other events of national and global importance over the past several years, activists used social media outlets and other digital technologies to organize, grow and project their views into the public discourse.

July 24th, 2013

The Referendum Gambit

In Israel as in Palestine, referendums are often threatened but never acted upon. To date, neither Palestinians nor Israelis have voted in such a referendum and, because of this, the referendum must be viewed as a sort political cudgel used to gain advantage in moments of potential crisis. If history is any indicator of what will happen with the most recent calls for plebiscites in Israel and Palestine, then we can all rest assured that such a vote will never take place and we that are witnessing little more than political posturing and the melodramatic theatrics of politicians who believe their power may be jeopardized as the region staggers toward peace talks that may fundamentally shatter the status quo.

July 22nd, 2013

Let the Games Begin: The 2013 Israeli – Palestinian Peace Talks

These talks could simply be a high-stakes public relations game performed to assign blame for the eventual failure of the negotiations. Each leader will attempt to demonstrate to the United States and international community that they are prepared to make painful concessions in order to reach a negotiated settlement, but they were thwarted by their counterpart’s unwillingness or inability to reciprocate. Using intermediaries, unnamed sources and leaked materials, both Netanyahu and Abbas will seek to burnish their image as earnest and stalwart peacemakers while excoriating the other as an obstacle to peace. In essence, the game that will soon begin is not designed to achieve a lasting peace for millions of Palestinians and Israelis who have suffered decades of despair, destruction and death. Rather, the true “game within the game” is for each side to simultaneously assign and deflect blame for the preordained collapse of peace talks.

June 20th, 2013

The Resignation of Rami Hamdallah

Today, Dr. Rami Hamdallah resigned as Palestinian Prime Minister after only two short weeks in the position. According to media reports, Hamdallah tendered his resignation over the appointment of two deputies – Mohammed Mustafa and Ziad Abu Amar – as deputies by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The appointment of Mustafa & Abu Amar, two Abbas loyalists, was widely seen as a move designed to limit Hamdallah’s power and avoid the difficulties and challenges Abbas experienced during the premiership of Salam Fayyad. While Hamdallah’s resignation is not official, nor has it been accepted by Abbas at the time of this piece, the move itself calls for an assessment winners and losers. Regardless whether Hamdallah actually leaves the government or is coaxed back to the position by Abbas, Hamdallah has been strengthened and Abbas has been weakened.

April 21st, 2013

“We Run for Boston”

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Boston, people from across the United States and around the world expressed their shock over the brutality of the bombings, their anger with those who would perpetrate such actions and their sympathy with those who suffered injury and trauma. As medical professionals treated the wounded and law enforcement began the arduous process of collecting evidence to identify those responsible for the bombings, hundreds and thousands of ordinary people began organizing solidarity and fundraising efforts through social media tools. Within only a few short hours after the bombs ripped through Boylston Street, small groups dedicated to standing united with the Boston Marathon victims as well as with the city of Boston began appearing on Facebook, Twitter, blog and websites.

March 14th, 2013

It Happens Every Rosh Chodesh

Over the past twenty-five years, Women of the Wall (WoW), a group of Jewish women from around the world and across the various religious movements within Judaism, have held prayer services in the women’s section of the Kotel as an open challenge to the gender-based prohibitions on worship. Women from Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism converge at WoW actions in order to express a commonality of purpose; namely that Jewish women have the indisputable right to engage in religious practice at the most sacred site in Judaism.

February 6th, 2013

The Evolution of Anonymous

The hacker collective Anonymous, long characterized by its commitment to an unregulated Internet and high-profile acts against governments and corporate entities guilty of limiting or censoring the Internet, has experienced a quiet public transformation over the past few months. No longer is Anonymous simply a bunch of computer programmers scattered across the world waging an ideological war for Internet freedom; rather, Anonymous is now the champion of bullied teens, the challenger of religious extremists and recognized as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People.

December 15th, 2012

Get the Frack Out!

With the release of Josh Fox’s documentary Gasland in 2010, anti-fracking activists networks were able to challenge the seemingly overwhelming power of the petroleum industry public relations campaign. Gasland not only won a special jury prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, it also won widespread positive reviews – including Bloomberg’s David Shiflett’s assessment that Josh Fox “may go down in history as the Paul Revere of fracking”.
[jpshare]

October 9th, 2012

Why Does the Activist Cross the Road?

Beyond the various emails and letters written by Rachel Corrie before her death, we will never know specifically what motivated her to travel to Gaza where she risked, and ultimately lost, her life. What is certain is that Rachel Corrie went to Gaza not to aid well-armed terrorists or be an “outside agitator”, but to help the persecuted; a point Smith readily acknowledges in his article. Like countless other activists, Rachel Core traveled to the place where she saw an injustice that she was compelled to fight based on a complex set of beliefs, values, ideals and life experiences.

September 24th, 2012

Joe Scarborough & The “Why Do They Hate Us” Question

What we have here are two Joe Scarboroughs – one who finds it terribly offensive to denigrate Muslims for simply exercising their freedom of religious practice and one who cannot fathom why a small number of Muslims reacted violently to a shabby anti-Islam film and retreats to reductionist explanations of religion and culture. In this, Scarborough represents a sort of cognitive dissonance that is far too common in American society. This is a mindset that champions the notion that individuals should not be judged based on their race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation, but frequently relies upon one-dimensional answers – some would say stereotypes – to complex questions that involve myriad social, political, cultural, religious, and economic factors.

September 9th, 2012

Pussy Riot Matters

Pussy Riot, a Russian punk band, rose to international prominence after a guerilla performance of their song “Punk-Prayer: Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away” in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior on February 21, 2012. While the members of Pussy Riot and their crew performed for less than one minute (click here for the music video with footage from the Cathedral), the event, and subsequent prosecution of three Pussy Riot members for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, “ has sparked several months of commentary and controversy both in Russia and around the world.

May 2nd, 2012

Activism, Media and Public Support

More than a year after the start of public demonstrations that swept across North Africa and the Middle East, the “Arab Spring” has largely faded from the front pages and home pages of media outlets, the struggle for human rights and social justice persists in places like Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen. Similarly, nearly seven months after its initial demonstrations, the Occupy Wall Street movement has largely disappeared from the broader public discourse, despite the persistent actions of the movement both on the ground and online. While there is obviously a correlation between the intensity of media coverage and public knowledge and support of activist efforts, there is also a need to highlight those moments when activists do not receive the sort of media attention that raises the profile of their work or the abuses they suffer while engaging in activism.

April 5th, 2012

Does Justice Require a Village? Social Activism & The Case of Trayvon Martin

Does justice take a village? The death of Trayvon Martin has led to individuals rallying together to pressure social and political leaders and institutions to act in response to instances of injustice has a long and storied past throughout the world. And so, from this perspective, the mobilization of thousands of people in support of justice for Trayvon Martin is neither innovative nor exceptional. This is not intended to downplay or dismiss the involvement of those who have demanded justice for Trayvon Martin; rather, it is to situate the public calls for justice in the Trayvon Martin case within a larger context. In addition, it is a reminder that cases like Trayvon Martin’s occur with far more frequency and too often they fail to elicit a similar level of public demands for justice.

February 21st, 2012

Textavism: A New Mode of Social Activism?

Over the past few years an alternative form of digital activism has emerged that heavily relies upon the impulsive and ephemeral aspects that characterize slacktivism and clicktivism, yet requires greater personal investment on behalf of the activist and has a record of producing substantial results. Mobile giving – where cell phone users text specified messages to generate a, typically small, donation to a particular charity or cause – has become an increasingly popular form of charitable giving, institutional fundraising and social activism. The donation of small amounts of money through mobile giving – or perhaps better framed as “textavism” – saw its first large-scale use in the aftermaths of the Indian Ocean Earthquake & Tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

January 19th, 2012

Exploring the Critiques and Criticisms of Activism

A fundamental incongruity for people trying to make sense of OWS is that they are familiar with traditional modes of activism (protests, marches, sit-ins), some of which they see in the OWS movement (e.g. the encampments). However, to some observers, OWS appears to be missing a common components found in more traditional modes of activism – that is a stated grievance and a defined set of changes sought to provide remedy.

November 1st, 2011

Occupy Wall Street; Occupy the World

The spread of Occupy Wall Street is continuing as activists make common cause and form bonds of solidarity with social protest movements at work in other parts of the world (e.g. anti-austerity movements in Greece, ‘Arab Spring’ movements in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, social justice protests in Israel). While the final form, extent and impact of the OWS movement remains to be seen it is clear that OWS and similar social movements are redefining how we perceive, engage and understand activism in a contemporary context.

October 11th, 2011

“I AM TROY DAVIS”

The outpouring of collective opposition to the execution of Troy Davis also provides insights into how international and transnational activism operates in a world increasingly connected through electronic communication, digital media and social networks. Using an array of organizational tools and structures, large transnational organizations, such as Amnesty International, politicians, religious leaders and concerned individuals were able to function independently yet towards a collective goal without any hierarchical structures, formal organization or established leadership. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, listservs, websites and talkback sections have increasingly become the tools to facilitate activism for disparate groups of people connected by a common cause; a trend that has been repeated throughout the political uprisings in Egypt, the formation of the Tea Party in the United States and the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ efforts currently underway in New York City.

September 28th, 2011

Why International Activism?

This column is dedicated to exploring these and other related questions in order to further define international activism in anthropological terms, explore how it functions as a social, cultural and political interaction and consider the consequences of international activism to the established social, cultural, political and economic orders. Throughout the year, this column will present a range of perspectives on international activism and a variety of firsthand accounts from international activists in the hopes of opening up new avenues of inquiry and exploration on the topic.