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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 


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Home  > Self Determination: International Law & Practice >  Nations & Nationalism  > Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Graduate Program on Social Movements, Democracy and Justice, Spring 2001

Nations & Nationalism


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           572e: Social Movements, Democracy and Justice
  Spring 2001
Tuesday 7-10 p.m. Room 13 Robertson Hall

Professor: Smitu Kothari
Office: 201 Bendheim Hall
Office Hours: Wednesday 1-3 p.m. or by appointment

Course Objectives:

The social movements of the last four decades have been challenging both the established structures of power and the dominant visions of society. They are also changing the very nature of civil society and its traditional relationship with the state and altering social and cultural relations in the everyday life of millions of people.  Those movements are emerging in a time of resurgence of cultural and ethnic assertion; some of it antagonistic to well established social values and arrangements.

This course has the following objectives:

1. To provide theoretical and historical background and some analytical tools to better grasp the nature and scope of the current social movements in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the United States.

2. To offer an overview of the struggles of peasants, indigenous peoples, women and defenders of ecological spaces, which are reclaiming their commons and demanding greater local autonomy, environmental and gender justice and more accountability from state and other national and global economic actors, while challenging conventionally held beliefs on democracy, ecology and justice.

3. To examine the growing linkages between and among local, national and global movements and international advocacy organizations.

In this interdisciplinary course, we will examine through numerous examples, how people attempt to change society. What are the forces that shape the destiny of societies and those who wish to transform them?  What strategies and tactics do they adopt?  How do these vary at the local, national, regional and global levels?  How do those in power respond?  What are the cultural and historical roots of contemporary movements?  Why are we witnessing an efflorescence of stirring and agitation at the grassroots?  Were the events in Seattle, Prague and Washington an aberration or do they represent evolving social movements that are both locally grounded and globally connected? What are the multiple levels at which movement's work?  How do they influence policy?  How does legislative action get framed and implemented?  These are some of the questions that the course will address.

This course will be in the form of an active, participatory seminar.  Its success will be driven by how each one of you engage with the issues that the readings and debates generate. We will also evolve a format where the themes of the final papers will be debated in class giving others an opportunity to learn form the choices each of you have made and the issues you will address.

Course Requirements: 

Each week, two students will be responsible for writing a brief commentary on the readings of the week. Please note that what is expected is a commentary and not a summary of the readings.  All others will be required to carefully read the weekly assignments, and, contribute actively to the discussions in class.  There will be a final paper based on the study of a social movement of your choice.  This choice must be made soon after the mid-term break.


Grading will be based on brief reviews of the readings and written assignments: Brief
reviews: 30%; Participation: 30%; Final paper: 40%

February 6: INTRODUCTION - I

Marco Giugni, Doug McAdam and Charles Tilly. 1999. How Social Movements Matter. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.  Introduction.

Smitu Kothari. 1996. "Rising From the Margins: The Awakening of Civil Society in the Third World". Development. Rome: Society for International Development. 1-13.

Pramod Parajuli. 1988. "Power and Knowledge in Development Discourse: New Social Movements and The State in India". International Social Science Journal, 127: 173-190.

February 13: INTRODUCTION - II

Arturo Escobar and Sonia Alvarez (Eds.). 1992. The Making of Social Movements
in Latin America: Identity, Strategy, and Democracy. Boulder: Westview Press.

Paul Ekins. 1992. A New World Order - Grassroots Movements for Global
Change. London: Routledge, Ch. 1.

Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward. 1971. Poor People's Movements: Why
They Succeed, How They Fail. Ch 1: 1-40.

Smitu Kothari. "Social Movements and the Redefinition of Democracy", in Philip
Oldenburg (Ed.), India Briefing. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1995.

Alberto Melucci. 1992. "Collective Action: A Constructivist View," Nomads of
The Present, 1992: 17-37.

Sidney Tarrow. 1994. Power in Movement: Social Movements, Collective Action,
and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Ch. 1: 9-27.
.Steven Buechler and Kurt Cylke. 1997. Social Movements: Perspectives and
Issues, Mayfield.


Benedict Anderson. 1992. "Long Distance Nationalism: World Capitalism and
The Rise of Identity Politics," Unpublished Paper, Centre For Asian Studies,

Nadesan Satyendra, 2000. "What is a Nation?". Tamilnation.org

Kearney, M. 1995. "The Local and the Global: The Anthropology of Globalization
and Transnationalism". Annual Review of Anthropology, No. 24, 547-565


Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen and Maria Mies. 1999. The Subsistence
Perspective: Beyond the Globalised Economy. London: Zed Books.

Philip G. Cerny. 1995. "Globalization and the Changing Logic of Collective
Action," International Organization, Vol. 49, no. 4.

Sidney Tarrow. 1995. "Fishnets, Internets and Catnets: Globalization and
Transnational Collective Action," Mimeo.

Donatella dell Porta, Hans Peter Kriesi and Dieter Rucht (Eds.). 1999. Social
Movements in a Globalizing World. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Charles Tilly. "Globalization Threatens Labor's Rights," CSSC Working Paper
No. 182


Leslie Wolfe and Jennifer Tucker. 1995. "Feminism Lives: Building a
Multicultural Women's Movement in the United States," in Amrita Basu. (Ed.).

The Challenge of Local Feminisms: Women's Movements in Global Perspective,

J. Townsend. 1995. Women's Voices From The Rainforest. London: Routledge.

Vina Mazumdar and Indu Agnihotri, 1995. "Changing The Terms of Political
Discourse," Lokayan Bulletin, July-October: 5-32.

Gail Omvedt. 1994. "Peasants, Dalits, and Women: Democracy and India's New
Social Movements". Journal of Contemporary Asia, 24, No. 1: 35-48.


Giovanna Di Chiro. 1998. "Environmental Justice from the Grassroots:
Reflections on History, Gender, and Expertise", in Daniel Faber, The Struggle for
Ecological Democracy : Environmental Justice Movements in the United States,

Paul Wapner. 1995. "Politics Beyond The State: Environmental Activism and
World Civic Politics, " World Politics, April. 311-40.

John Kurien. 1992. "Ruining The Commons and Responses of The Consumers:
Coastal Overfishing and Fishworkers Actions in Kerala, India," In Dharam Ghai
and Jessica Vivian, Grassroots Environmental Action. People's Participation in
Sustainable Development, 221-258.

Smitu Kothari. 2000. "A Million Mutinies Now: Lesser-Known Environmental
Movements in India," Humanscape, October. 5-9.

The Ecologist. 1992. Whose Common Future? Reclaiming The Commons.
London: Earthscan.

Martin Khor. 1995. "A Worldwide Fight Against Biopiracy and Patents on Life,"
Third World Resurgence.  No. 63, 9-11.


Ashish Kothari, Saloni Suri, Neena Singh, "Conservation in India: A New
Direction," Economic and Political Weekly, October 28, 1995: 2755-2766.

Nancy Peluso. 1995. Rich Forests, Poor People, Ch. 2.

Pete Brown. 1998. "Cultural Resistance and Rebellion in Southern Mexico",
Review Essay of Six Books on The Zapatista Movement. Latin American
Research Review, 33-3: 217-229.

Susanna Hecht and Alexander Cockburn. 1989. "The Ecology of Justice," in The
Fate of the Forest. Verso. 193-210.

Denise Stanley. 1991. "Demystifying the Tragedy of The Commons: The Resin
Tappers of Honduras," Grassroots Development, 27-35.

Mid-Term Break
Prepare for Final Paper Topics


Al Gedicks. 1993. "Resource Colonialism and International Native Resistance," In
Gedicks, Ed., The New Resource Wars: Native and Environmental Struggles
Against Multinational Corporations, 13-38.

M. Carley. 1998. "Defining Forms of Successful State Repression of Social
Movement Organizations: A Case Study of the FBI's COINTELPRO and the
American Indian Movement," in Michael Dobkowski and Isidor Wallimann. The
Coming Age of Scarcity: Preventing Mass Death and Genocide in the Twenty-first
Century, Syracuse UP, 151-171.

Amazon Indigenous Peoples: New Challenges for Political Participation and
Sustainable Development, " Cultural Survival Quarterly, 20(3), Fall 1996, 50-53.

F. Passy. 1999. "Supranational Political Opportunities as a Channel of
Globalization of Political Conflicts: The Case of the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples", in Donatella della Porta, Hanspeter Kriesi and Dieter Rucht, Social
Movements in a Globalizing World, New York: St. Martin's Press, 148-169.


Arundhati Roy, 1999. The Greater Common Good, Frontline, May 22-June 4.

Medha Patkar. (In Conversation with Smitu Kothari). 1995. "The Struggle for
Participation and Justice," In William Fisher (Ed.). Towards Sustainable
Development. Struggling Over India's Narmada River. 157-178.

Bradford Morse and Thomas Berger. 1995. "Findings and Recommendations of
The Independent Review," In Fisher, 371-380.

Lori Udall. 1995. "The International Narmada Campaign: A Case of Sustained

Advocacy," in William Fisher, 21027.


E. Canel. 1992.  "Democratization and the Decline of Urban Social Movements in
Uraguay: A Political-Institutional Account," in Arturo Escobar and Sonia Alvarez,
The Making of Social Movements in Latin America: Identity, Strategy and
Democracy. Westview Press. 276-290

Talmage Wright. 1997. Out of Place. Homeless Mobilizations, Subcities, and
Contested Landscapes. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Frans Schuurman & Ton van Naerssen. 1989. Urban Social Movements in the
Third World. Introduction and Ch. 1: "Urban Social Movements: Between
Regressive Utopia and Socialist Panacea". Routledge. 1-26.

M. Vellinga. 1989. "Power and Independence: the Struggle for Identity in Urban
Social Movements," in Schuurman & Naerssen. ch. 8.

Julio Moguel and Enrique Velazquez. 1992. "Urban Social Organizing and
Ecological Struggles in Durango, Mexico," in Ghai and Vivian. 161-188.


Jonathan Fox and L. David Brown. 1998. The Struggle for Accountability: The
World Bank, NGOs, and Grassroots Movements. Cambridge: MIT Press.

The World Commission on Dams. Selected materials.

Class Presentations I


Jorge G. Castaneda. 1993. "Democratising Democracy," in Utopia Unarmed: The
Latin American Left After the Cold War, 390.

Smitu Kothari,  2000. "To be Governed or to Self-Govern," The Hindu Folio, July

Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. "Transnational Advocacy Networks in
International Politics". Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1-38.

Class Presentations II

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