SESSION 1: 10:00 AM -11:30 AM

Panel A: Take to the Streets! Activist Spur Local Change and Shape Global Focus

C103 Hesburgh Center 

Moderator: Steve Reifenberg


Analyzing the Impacts of Conditions and Strategies Employed by the Mapuche and Zapatista Indigenous Movements on the Global Resistance to Neoliberalism

Cecil Millen, Denison University

Existing scholarship on post-Cold War indigenous movements tends to focus on the progress of a single movement over time, but few studies have done a comparative analysis of two contemporaneous indigenous movements. This study examines the variables (e.g., organization structure, popular reception/support, solidarity, and confrontational strategies) of each of the Mapuche and Zapatista movements, and the relationships of these variables and characteristics to the successes and failures of indigenous movements more generally. By analyzing my personal experiences and interviews, neoliberal economic theory, primary sources from within indigenous movements, and scholarly sources about indigenous movements, this investigation reveals that there is no single approach that can “defeat” neoliberalism. In revealing this, my paper argues that neoliberalism can only be resisted, and indigenous movements can only “succeed”, when resistance is comprised of multiple dynamic and multifaceted movements all of which apply pressure, and work toward similar goals, but do so using different methods. This study’s findings are significant because they inspect both indigenous movements as independent, but necessarily interconnected as they work toward the same goals, but on different geographic planes. This investigation recontextualizes indigenous movements within the broader decentralized anti-globalist movement which can be seen in places like Catalonia, Hong Kong, and now Chile.



The Phenomenon of Resistance— Smuggling Imported Goods in Senegal

Tyeesha Webber, Howard University
(2020 Bartell Prize recipient)

This research clarifies whether the informal sector of Sénégal's economy and its operators serve a political function. Information was collected from a variety of sources to include semi-structured interviews, scholarly publications, surveys, and conferences. The research briefly outlines the administration and overall state of the developing economy. It contextualizes informality and highlights its complexities. It explains why, though not officially accepted under the law, there are instances where informality is widespread and undisguised. It discusses government ideologies, interests of the people, and the consequences that follow when the two collide. The research explains the relationship the informal sector has with sustainable development. Unfortunately, informality is commonly associated with poverty and criminality, which substantially limits the discourse. This paper aims to advance the discourse past right and wrong limits into a more critical realm.


Environmental Activist Strategy Formation in Peru: Exploring Perceptions, Norms, and Agency

Kyersten Siebenaler, University of Notre Dame

Spurring widespread social and political change is complex, as is the formation of activist strategies given available resources and structural constraints. While at one level choices are strictly limited given existing structures and resources, space for agency in strategy building still remains. Therefore, groups simplify the choices available to them by subscribing to traditions, values, and habits that eventually dictate many of the choices that are made (Jasper 2004). These choices that activists and organizations make in an attempt to enact said change are informed by a variety of perceptions and norms. To understand these perceptions and the ways in which they affect strategic planning, I conducted in-depth interviews with environmental activists and participant observations of strategic meetings in Puno, Peru. This research demonstrates how local indigenous activists think about and perceive potential strategies and, importantly, how these perceived options are shaped due to perceptions around indigenous identity, local social movement history, and propensity to collaborate. My findings demonstrate that certain perceptions often propagate uniform views of actors in local mining conflicts which tend to block potential avenues of collaboration and ultimately undermine activist strategic agency. My analysis suggests that the reframing of certain perceptions could lead to utilizing the untapped activist potential in the context of Puno’s activist organizations. Understanding strategy formation in the context of mining conflicts in Peru is crucial to realizing new pathways to social change. Furthermore, conflicts between indigenous groups and extractivist corporations are a widespread issue in many Latin American contexts.


Global Counterculture, Local Protests: The Morphing Role of Hip Hop in Cape Town Social Discourse

Sam Cannova, University of Notre Dame

In the final decade of Apartheid, a new energy coursed through the townships of Cape Town: hip hop. Stemming from the1970s Bronx, hip hop resonated with communities struggling under oppressive social systems, from Compton to Cape Town. As it globalized, its messages localized to particular contexts and cultures, though consistently serving as a countercultural protest art. Amid anti-Apartheid protests, Cape Town conscious rap both manifestation the resistance and amplified its message (Zeleza 2010, Bodunrin 2014). Today, South Africa remains a highly racially inequal state - the problem has simply evolved from formal segregation to socio-economic oppression (Wainwright 2014). Last summer, I travelled to Cape Town, seeking to adopt a street-level view of how hip hop engages in contemporary social discourse. By personally connecting with OG, mainstream, and underground rappers, creatives, and community activists, I conducted interviews, informal discussions, and ethnographic research, ultimately developing a human archive of 20+ stakeholders within 4 weeks. Moreover, I discerned how hip hop is now re-localizing and modernizing a global message of struggle, pride, and protest by re-negotiating today’s Cape Flats issues, namely: government corruption, gang violence, and racially divisive gentrification. As structural inequalities resurface, today’s hip hop heads push the social and political boundaries through entrepreneurial artistic approaches to claiming community identity. I hope to share my particular findings through live analysis of music, lyrics, video, and photographs, informed by artists’ personal insights, to show how much a keen ear can glean by simply listening to Cape Town radio.