#RhodesMustFall

Abstract: Rhodes Must Fall is a movement that calls for the decolonization of higher education. It recognizes that the current education system enshrines indicators of success associated with, or prescribed by whites or whiteness. This is a legacy of European ‘civilizing missions’ that have created a white value system and credibility that exists to this day. Some of these indicators of success include the lack of diversity in student populations, institutional racism and the continued ambition to be white kept alive by curriculums associated with whiteness.

Rhodes Must Fall started on March 9th, 2015 at the University of Cape Town when student leader Chumani Maxwele hurled excrement at an enormous 19th century statue of Cecil Rhodes as a symbolic gesture to call for the fall of white supremacy and white privilege implicit at UCT embodied by the statuesque glorification of Cecil Rhodes. Protests in solidarity with the students of UCT sparked all over the world in places like the University of Oxford, Stellenbosch University, Rhodes University, the University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State etc.

At the University of Oxford, protestors used the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College as a visible, tangible symbol of the whiteness of the Oxford education system. Protest tactics at Oxford included having university wide debates about the statue, petitions to colleges to increase the number of non-white students and faculty in department and petitions to  decolonize the curriculum. Students also made use of the internet, with the Rhodes Must Fall Facebook page and the #RhodesMustFall twitter hashtag being used to organize around the movement. Students at the University of Oxford were attacked in the press for protesting against figures such as Cecil Rhodes despite ‘benefiting’ from the money he and other colonizers had invested in Oxford and in scholarships such as the Rhodes Scholarship

Research Questions: What were the tactics used by the Rhodes Must Fall activists at the University of Oxford?How did the protestors at Oxford navigate the accusations that they had lost the right to protest having accepted their offers to study at the University of Oxford that had benefited greatly from Cecil Rhodes and other colonialists pillaging? How were the tactics used by activists at Oxford similar/different from protests used by Rhodes must Fall protesters at other universities?

Case selection: This project shall focus on the Rhodes Must Fall protests at the University of Oxford.

Methods: A detailed analysis of the Rhodes Must Fall Facebook page, and Twitter account shall be conducted to understand how the movement at Oxford was organized. Newspaper articles shall be studied to see how the protests were presented in mass media. Interviews with protestors shall also be conducted

Detailed work plan:

3/23: Project Proposal

3/30: Conduct interviews with student leaders of the RhodesMustFall movement

4/8: Parse through twitter and facebook pages and form a timeline of protests

4/13: Parse how the movement was presented in the mass media by examining 

4/27: First draft

5/4: Complete any additional analysis

5/18: Final Presentation

5/28: Final paper due

Preliminary annotated bibliography:

#RhodesMustFall Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa by Francis Nyamnjoh

Tree Stewardship Organization and Distribution in Hillsborough County, FL

Trees provide many benefits to the communities that embrace them. Several organizations exist to encourage communities to grow and take care of trees in their neighborhoods, a process known as reforestation. These organizations also provide educational resources and assistance to the public. Most of the work done by these organizations to spread the habit of reforestation occur from printed newsletters and attending meetings of local neighborhood associations. Recently, groups are turning to Facebook as a way to increase access two-way communication. The increased two-way communication is designed to help increase volunteer retention, as tree stewardship programs require sustained activity to be successful. This is also a good platform from which to share information regarding reforestation and the native flora, as many organizations express that their main concern is the lack of public knowledge on the subject. For my project I plan to look at the engagement of tree planting organizations and the public on social media such as Facebook for their effectiveness at raising awareness and volunteer retention. Additionally, I will look into the communities that they are engaging with to assess the extent that low-income communities are included within the program. I will assume an environmental justice lens to address how tree planting programs can improve low-income communities.

Research Questions:

  1. What are effective ways of recruiting volunteers and retaining interest using social media sites?
  2. What communities are strongly engaged in these programs? Are they primarily richer neighborhoods, or low-income communities?
  3. Has social media enabled tree stewardship organizations to address their concerns about public awareness?

Case Selection:

For this project, I am focusing on tree stewardship programs near the greater Tampa Bay area of Florida. There are a handful of non-profit organizations that have partnered with many communities, universities and municipalities to spread the interests of tree planting. By focusing within a restricted area, it is easiest to focus on the communities that are affected or unengaged with the effort. As well as makes it easier to determine the impact that tree planting has on the environment.

Methods:

  • Studying Facebook activity.
  • Mapping distribution of tree stewardship programs, both spatially and socioeconomically.
  • Comparison of online media use to that of traditional media use by these organizations.

Work Schedule:

Mar 23 – Preliminary research on potential organizations and framework for the project.

Mar 30 – First read-through of literature regarding volunteer retention and motivation, impact of trees on the community, and familiarization of tree stewardship programs/organizations within the area.

Apr 6 – Familiarity with associated Facebook pages and organizational newsletters. Highlight what is emphasized within these as important to their respective communities. Record public engagement.

Apr 13 – Mapping of communities that have undertaken tree stewardship programs. Overlay map of community income levels. Record updates to social media pages.

Apr 20 – Preliminary analysis of tree planting program distribution, social media engagement.

May 4 – Final read through of appropriate literature. Record Facebook engagement. Analysis of community involvement techniques.

May 11 – Finalization of analysis and clarification conclusions. Rough draft of paper and presentation.

May 18 – Final presentation and paper completed.

Annotated Bibliography:

Joshua Summit and Robert Sommer, “Urban tree-planting programs — a model for encouraging environmentally protective behavior”
– Studies nonprofit tree planting organizations practices

Christine Moskell, et al., “Examining Motivations and Recruitment Strategies for Urban Forestry Volunteers,” Cities and the Environment.
– Studies motivations of volunteers participating in tree planting programs, acknowledging best practices for long term commitment from volunteers.

Project report and recommendations
– Analysis done by City of Tampa on tree stewardship projects.

 

BLM Project Proposal

Background:

The United States has a long and storied history of racial discrimination and oppression. Since before its founding day, it has never been a safe place for people of color to live. Even after the trappings of slavery were officially discarded, various laws and institutions remained in place to ensure that African Americans were never allowed true equality. This remains true up to the present day, despite the common belief of many non-black Americans that racism ended with Martin Luther King Jr. Black men and women in the US are still often treated without respect or humanity. From the moment they are born, the books are stacked against them. Black children are judged more harshly than their peers, black teenagers are often forced out of the education systems that are designed to help them, and black adults are extrajudicially punished for crimes they did not commit.

In August of 2013, a young African American named Trayvon Martin was gunned down by a white man in the name of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The shooter was acquitted, causing an uproar throughout the country. People took to social media, tweeting their rage using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, out of which spawned a national movement. A national eye was turned to the all-too-common unjust deaths of black people. A year later, Mike Brown was killed by policemen in Ferguson, Missouri, his death exaggerated to justify the murder. Protesters took to the streets in droves, asking for the shooter’s indictment and investigation, to little avail. In the following weeks and years, many more African Americans  were killed at the hands of the police, men and women, young and old, from every walk of life. Out of these, the Black Lives Matter movement grew significantly, supported by the anger of a whole nation.

To this day, Black Lives Matter continues to act, driven by the the murders and injustices that the black community faces. Black Lives Matter has branches throughout the country, but also organizes heavily through social media. Though decentralized, BLM follows a number of intersectional guiding principles to unite the movement as a whole.

 

Project Goal:

Create a detailed, interactive, and accessible summary/timeline of BLM as a movement on the web. Secondarily, the web page should be persuasive as well as informative, and allow users to get involved with BLM, but this is not a priority.

 

Questions:

What are the specific mobilization, policy, cultural goals of the Black Lives Matter movement so far? What are the goals that they plan to reach in the future?

How does the decentralization of the Black Lives Matter movement help/hinder the work towards their goals?

What are the approaches BLM takes and why are they effective or not?

 

Case Selection:

BLM Activities from August 2013 onwards

 

Methods:

Twitter/Social Media Analysis: Since so much of Black Lives Matter activities are organized and documented through Twitter and related social media, it is important to look at social media to understand and contextualize what was going on at any given time.

Timeline Creation: Timelines are an easy way for users to intuitively understand how a movement unfolds and how individual events up. Also, using the aforementioned Twitter data to provide primary sources for timeline information.

Discussion of Goals/Achievements: Connect events on the timeline to the goals of the movement.

 

Tools:

Twitter API: https://dev.twitter.com/docs

Google Timeline API: https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery/timeline

Bootstrap: https://getbootstrap.com/

 

Workplan:

  1. Design Website/Create Templates for Content. Deadline: March 26
  2. Make first draft of timeline with dummy twitter comments and sources associated with entries. Deadline: March 29
  3. Insert relevant tweets/sources. Deadline: April 1
  4. From that point on, iterate on existing design and provide more detail on the timeline.

 

Youth Activism and Social Media Tactics under Repression: The Case of Cambodia

Abstract

Digital media create new channels for young people to engage with civic and political issues outside the confines of traditional public institutions and discourses. The Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter illustrate how youth leverage social media to exercise voice and participate in social movements (Cohen & Kahne, 2012; Herrera & Sakr, 2014; Howard & Hussain, 2013; Milkman, 2017). While social media present new opportunities for youth who were previously excluded from formal channels of political participation, increasingly, these platforms also subject young people to surveillance, censorship, and other forms of repression (Costanza-Chock, 2012; Shresthova, 2016). In this project, I examine youth activism in Cambodia, an authoritarian regime with a demographic youth bulge and rapidly increasing uptake of social media. Specifically, I explore how youth leverage social media to participate in democratization movements and protests under state control and surveillance. I am particularly interested in social media strategies and tactics youth employ to navigate contentious politics and express dissent.

** Click here for the full proposal.

The Fight for Identity: An Evaluation of Four Social Movements spanning Sixty-Five Years

Abstract

The American Multiracial Movement is best known for enacting the “check one or more” boxes in the 2000 census, allowing individuals to claim multiple races for the first time. This is one of the clearest victories in the overarching “Identity Movement” that seemingly began around the half of the 20th Century and continues to today. This “Identity Movement” is not a movement in and of itself, but is more accurately a common thread within certain social movements. These movements include, but are not limited to, The Civil Rights Movement, The Gay Rights Movement, The American Multiracial Movement, and The Transgender Rights Movement. I have chosen to focus on specific events within each movement such as the legalization of interracial marriage in 1967, the identification of multiracial individuals in 2000, the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, and the continuing fight for transgender bathroom rights.

 

Research Question

How have The Civil Rights Movement, The Gay Rights Movement, The American Multiracial Movement, The Transgender Rights Movement interacted, affected, and changed the overall approach to identity politics over time?

 

Case Selection

  • Civil Rights Movement, with a focus on Loving vs Virginia
  • American Multiracial Movement, with a focus on the 2000 census
  • Gay Rights Movement, with a focus on Oberfell v. Hodges
  • Transgender Rights Movement, with a focus on GG v. Gloucester School Board

 

Methods

  • Literature Review. This will provide insight on current ideas and evaluations of these social movements as well as an avenue to analyze previously made comparisons between these movements.
  • Archives. This will allow analysis of tactics and methods as close to first hand as possible and give faces to each of these movements.
  • Interviews of individuals in each movement (unsure of logistics)

 

Work Plan

  1. Final Project Proposal (3/23)
  2. Create a timeline of significant related events in each movement (3/30)
  3. Analyze each movement individually, finding main methods/tactics used (4/6)
  4. Compare movements, finding potential connections/differences/influences (4/13)
  5. First Draft (4/20)
  6. Expand research and arrange potential interviews (4/27)
  7. Second Draft (5/4)
  8. TBD, based on feedback (5/11)
  9. Presentation (5/18)
  10. TBD, based on feedback (5/25)
  11. Final Paper Due (5/28)

Funnytics and The Deployment of humorous tactics for political purpose

Abstract

The aim of this project is to explore and understand the effects (if any) that the use of humorous tactics such as culture jamming has in the spread of political ideas in social movements. To do this I will explore the historical deployments of humor around social movements. I will particularly concentrate, on two humorous culture jamming tactics: Tactical Frivolity/Media Pranks (in person acts) and Billboard Hacking. The use of this tactics will be observed in the context of two social movements: Billboard Liberation Front and Yo Mango. I will hold up interviews with culture jamming practitioners to talk about the production and deployment of humorous tactics for social justice endeavors.

Research Question

What effect does the use of humorous tactics such as culture jamming (and its deployments) have in the advancement of political ideas in social movements?

Case Selection

  • Billboard Liberation Front
  • Yo Mango

Methods

  • Document Analysis- Can be use to understand the cultural production and works developed by the organizations.
  • Interviews- Use to understand people that develop the tactics, their processes, its effects, etc.

Workplan

  • Develop Theoretical Framework- This will involve evaluating the different tactical  and theoretical underpinnings of the role of humor in political protest. Particularly concentrating in the use of culture jamming tactics
    • Humor & Political Protest
    • Culture Jamming Tactics & Social Movements
  • Perform Document Analysis and Develop Case Study- Evaluate any literature created by and about the case selection to frame the development of the interview instrument in the context of culture jamming and social movements.
  • Develop Interview Instrument
  • Code and Analyze Interview
  • Compile and Present Findings

Bibliography

Mark Dery (1999) Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing and Sniping in the Empire of Signs. Grove Press

Sven Woodside (2001) Every joke is a tiny revolution. Culture Jamming and the role of humour. Media Studies, University of Amsterdam, Final M.A. Thesis.

Lisa Prothers, Culture Jamming: An Interview with Pedro Carvajal, in: Bad Subjects. Political Education for Everyday Life, Issue #37, March 1998

Warren Berger, Commercial Rebellion. Advertising’s voracious appetite for underground culture swallows another victim: culture jamming. In: Metropolis, Oct. 2000

The Laughter Effect. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2017, from http://cmsimpact.org/report/laughtereffect/

Kutz-Flamenbaum, R. V. (2014). Humor and Social Movements. Sociology Compass, 8(3), 294–304. https://doi.org/10.1111/soc4.12138

Discussion on Milkman and Soule

Our class discussion started with a discussion of sociologist, Ruth Milkman’s address to the American Sociological Association. The first question that we examined was: what is a political generation and what characteristics are central to the current political generation according to the text? Ruth Milkman drew on Karl Manheim’s argument that generations are formed from historical and sociological processes rather than biological processes.

Ruth Milkman builds on Manheim’s thesis to characterize U.S. Millennials as a new political generation “whose lived experiences and worldviews distinguish them from previous generations of youthful activists”. She defines a Millennial as anyone born since the 1980s. She argues that the Millennials have had a different lived experience for four reasons. First- because they are ‘digital natives’ and their lives have been profoundly shaped by the internet from birth. Second, although Millennials are more highly educated than the previous generation, they have been frustrated by a “precarious and polarized job market”, whose precariousness has only intensified since the recession in 2008. This lack of good jobs has created a sense of shared experience amongst Millennials. High levels of under-employment  and unemployement have increased the ‘biographical availability’ of Millennials to participate in social movements. Third, US Millennials are more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, and yet routinely experience racism, sexism, high levels of income inequality and systematic discrimination against minorities, and have thus claimed the term ‘intersectionality’ to highlight the interconnections between their struggles.

We had a discussion about Milkman’s argument in class. Some members of the class noted from the onset that broadband access, corporate backed social media and sites like youtube etc really took off in the last decade or so, and therefore Milkman should have defined a Millennial as someone born later than in the 1980s and who were in their formative years (early 20s) when these sites took off. Building on this, we had a discussion on the very term ‘digital native’

It was argued that just because we live in a time that we have access to internet, doesn’t mean that that people are necessarily good at using the internet. The term ‘digital native’ flattens out people with varying skills, as well as the inequalities that cause this variation. Some of these inequalities are structural factors: schools, income etc. This quality of access to the internet also depends on factors such as whether people access the net through mobile apps/smart phones or laptops and PCs. It also depends on the level of internet access (fiber optic versus  DSL). FInally, the quality of participation in the internet must also be examined. Some people create content, others consume content, and by just looking at access to information, these differences are smoothed out.  Some of us felt that a more rigorous examination of the term ‘digital native’ was required to support Milkman’s further arguments. However, some of the class believed that Milkman’s article was talking about the larger societal impact of social media and the internet, and that people will feel the impacts of the these technologies, whatever the quality of their participation, and thus the rest of her argument was still valid.

We then talked about the typology Milkman creates for the four protest movements: Occupy Wall Street (OWS), Black Lives Matter (BLM), “Dreamers”, the Movement Against Sexual Assault she analyses. She examines the ‘Modes of Organization and Strategic Repertoires’ of each movement in terms of them being hierarchial or non-hierarchial and the ‘Social Characteristics of Activists and Leaders’  in terms of the organizers being ‘insiders’ or ‘outsiders’ for each movement.

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Member of the class thought this was a useful typology to characterise movements as it allowed us to see that despite the internet, ‘the Movement Against Sexual Assault’ and the ‘Dreamers’ were using traditional organizational forms. It allowed us to question why this was the case even though Millennials were shaped by the internet. It also allows to also examine leadership forms in various movements and appreciate that the social characteristics of organizers are not monolithic.

However, the limitations of the framework were also noted. By putting OWS in the traditional, insider box, it erased the participation of peoples of color and LGBTQ persons in the movement. It went along with the story of the main stream media that highlighted the stories of the ‘insiders’ protesting, but did not document that vast number of ‘outsiders’ who were also part of the movement. It was argued that this form of characterization hides the outliers.

Reservations were also raised about Milkman’s definition of the ‘non-hierarchical’ mode of organization. Joe Freeman’s ‘Tyranny of Structurelessness’ talks about the fact that seemingly ‘leadershipless’ organizations however, did have people who had more power and privilege than others. However, the counter raised to this was that just because structures tend to reproduce themselves doesn’t mean that we cannot strive for an egalitarian consensus building space.The framework also does not take into consideration that movements evolve.

We then examined each of the four movements within Milkman’s framework. It was noted that OWS purposefully did not have  a policy goal, although BLM did. However, BLM was placed in the ‘non hierarchical’ bucket. It was also argued that BLM did use narration as part of the movement, even though Millkman, by putting BLM in the bucket she did, seemed to imply the the individual videos of BLM were more important than the overall narrative of police killings and racism. OWS also used narration to further the movement. Indeed, OWS had a ‘Media and Communications’ tent which they used to train people how to tell their story to put wealth inequality back on the agenda. We are the 99%0 http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/ is another method OWS used to create a narrative

Afterwards, we discussed Sarah Soule’s Diffusion Process within Movements. The piece was written before the Trump Campaign and the 2008 movements. It is a literature review of historical examples. It depicts the narratives of Social Movement Diffusion including LeBon and Tarde theory. They hypothesized that the movements spread like viruses. Now, there are several people writing about networked social movements including intelligence agencies (FBI,NSA, CIA). They want to know why social groups form and their grievances. The use of social movement analysis has come to prominence as larger databases are available from social networking sites. Sasha pointed out that we could easily track different tweets or movements by following a hashtags or looking at prominent tweets, but they warned us that the social media aspect only tells one part of the story, and cannot do the entire basis of analysis.

In the pre-internet days, Soule looked at diffusion through Tactile DIffusion and Direct Diffusion. Tactile Diffusion was when a movement innovated a tactic, such as a banner hang. Direct Diffusion included physical ways and were less about tactics and more about the movement itself spreading, such as people talking. After we discussed the miners, some classmates expressed concern about calling Adendes a Marxist. Sasha explained that in the case of social media studies ideology is seen as a coherent system of ideas, and is not associated with negative connotations. We then discussed people who study social movements. Recently, the group of scholars has been more self critical and methodical in their approach to research. Some suggested that they participate in the movement that they study as well.

Then we moved on to the concept of Shanty towns and their success or failure. We highlighted the fact that its spread could have been due to novelty or “triability”.  Then we looked at ti’s effectiveness. Soule said ti was ineffective because it did not change policy, however, there are other ways to be effective. Perhaps the Shanty towns caused a cultural shift that Soule was not able to capture solely by looking at political changes.  There are several ways to measure effectiveness including Mobilization, Culturally, and Politically. Though some may seem binary, all fall on a spectrum which makes it difficult to evaluate effectiveness. Two examples we visited were Cosecha and the Roll call in Ayotzinapa. Cosecha diffused tactics from the DREAMers. And a famous person in Mexico uses of roll call on digital media.