Nonviolent Resistance a global History 1830-2000

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Week 14. Dissidence in Eastern Europe, focussing on Solidarity in Poland 1980-81

The worker’s revolt and Solidarity in Poland 1980-90. A DVD will be shown of Poland. We mayl also discuss the forms that dissidence took in Eastern Europe, and the institutions that could be used as vehicles for this dissidence, such as trade unions, the church, folklore societies and so on. How is a culture of dissidence maintained?

Core reading:

Poland: either Ackerman and Kruegler, Strategic Nonviolent Conflict chapter 8, pp. 283-316 or Ackerman and Jack DuVall, A Force more Powerful, chapter 9, pp. 113-174.

Questions for discussion:

  1. To what extent was factory occupation by workers a new nonviolent tactic? What were its advantages?

  2. Compare the role of the Church in Poland with religious involvement in other nonviolent movements. What were the differences, if any?

  3. List the full repertoire of nonviolent action in 1980-82, and describe the advantages and disadvantages, if any, of each method.

  4. What were the main reasons for the severe setback of December 1981? Could the damage have been limited with better strategy?

  5. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the ruling Communist Party in Poland?

Further reading:

  • Warwick library section DK 443

  • Neal Ascherson, The Polish August: The Self-Limiting Revolution, Viking Press, (Suffolk 1981).

  • Neal Ascherson (ed.), The Book of Lech Walesa (Gdansk 1981)

  • Timothy Garton Ash, The Polish Revolution: Solidarity, 1980-1982, Jonathan Cape, London 1983.

  • Colin Barker, Festival of the Oppressed: Solidarity, Reform and Revolution in Poland, 1980-81(London 1986)

  • Colin Barker, ‘Fear, Laughter and Collective Power: The Making of Solidarity at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland, August 1980’, in Jeff Goodwin, James M. Jasper and Francesca Polletta (eds.), Passionate Politics, (Chicago 2001)

  • K. Brandys, A Warsaw Diary, 1978-1981 (London 1981)

  • Helena Flan, ‘Anger in Repressive Regimes: A Footnote to Domination and the Arts of Resistance by James Scott’, European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2004.

  • Hank Johnston, ‘Talking the Walk: Speech Acts and Resistance in Authoritarian Regimes’, in Christian Davenport, Hank Johnston, and Carol Mueller (eds.), Repression and Mobilization, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 2005.

  • David Mason, Public Opinion and Political Change in Poland 1980-1982 (Cambridge 1985).

  • Sharon Nepstad, Nonviolent Revolutions: Civil Resistance in the Late 20th Century (Oxford, USA 2011), Ch. 3.

  • David Ost, Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics, Opposition and Reform in Poland since 1968 (Philadelphia 1990)

  • Alexander Smolar, ‘Towards “Self-limiting Revolution”: Poland, 1970-89’, in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present

  • Jadwiga Staniszkis, Poland’s Self-Limiting Revolution (Princeton 1984).

  • Alain Touraine, François Dubet, Michel Wieviorka, Jan Strzelecki et al, Solidarity: The Analysis of a Social movement, Poland 1980-1981 (Cambridge 1983).

  • Jan Zielonka, Political Ideas in Contemporary Poland (Aldershot 1989).

Week 15. Women and nonviolence

In this week there is a focus on nonviolent protests by women, who have in certain cases become involved in their roles as wives and mothers. Gandhi in fact contended that women are particularly suited to nonviolence. Our case studies include the mobilisation of women by Gandhi in the Indian nationalist movement, the protest by wives of Jewish husbands in Rosentrasse in Berlin in 1944, the protest by the mothers of the disappeared in Argentina from 1977 to 1983, mothers in Northern Ireland, and women against nuclear weapons in the 1980s.

Core reading:

  • Pam McAllister, ‘You Can’t Kill the Spirit: Women and Nonviolent Action’, in Stephen Zunes, Lester R. Kurtz, and Sarah Beth Asher, Nonviolent social movements: a geographical perspective, pp.18-35.

  • Argentina: Hebe de Bonafini and Matilde Sánchez, ‘The Madwoman at the Plaza de Mayo’, in Gabriela Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo (eds.), The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics, London 2002, pp. 429-39.

Questions for discussion:

  • In nonviolent resistance by women, to what extent has emotional appeal outweighed rational argument?

  • Does non-violence enable both sexes to transcend conventional gender roles (as argued by Carol Flinders) or does it play on them to enhance its emotional potency?

  • Is female non-violence predominantly personally motivated rather than ideologically motivated?

  • Is it generally shaped by any theoretical understanding of non-violence or does it tend to be spontaneously generated from below?

  • Does Gene Sharp’ understanding of power relationship marginalise women, as Kate McGuiness argues?

  • Is nonviolent resistance by women based primarily on an ethic of care, rather than an ethic of justice?

Debate: ‘Women are by nature particularly suited to nonviolent resistance.’

Further Reading:

  • ‘Asking the Right Questions: Gender and Nonviolence.’ Report on a conference of 2005.

  • H.H. Alonso, The Women’s Peace Union and the Outlawry of War, 1921-1942, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1989.

  • Malathi de Alwis, ‘Motherhood as a Space of Protest: Women’s Political Participation in Contemporary Sri Lanka’, in A. Basu and P. Jeffrey (eds.), Appropriating Gender: Women’s Activism and Politicised Religion in South Asia (London 1998).

  • Pushpa Bhave, ‘Empowerment’.

  • Bernice Carroll, ‘Feminism and Pacifism: Historical and Theoretical Connections’, in Ruth Roach Pierson (ed.), Women and Peace (London 1987)

  • April Carter, People Power and Political Change: Key Issues and Concepts, (Abingdon 2012), pp. 33-35 has a brief but useful discussion that compares women in violent and nonviolent campaigns.

  • Cynthia Cockburn, ‘Women in Black: The stony path to “solidarity”’, in Howard Clark (ed.), People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Solidarity

  • Catia Confortini, ‘Galtung, Violence and Gender: The Case for a Peace Studies/Feminism Alliance’, Peace and Change, 31, 2006.

  • Paula Banerjee, Women in Peace Politics (New Delhi 2010).

  • Karen Beckworth, ‘Women, Gender, and Nonviolence in Political Movements’, Political Science and Politics, 35, 2002.

  • Samir Kumar Das, ‘Ethnicity and Democracy Meet when Mothers Protest’, in Paula Banerjee (ed.), Women in Peace Politics (London 2008).

  • Jean Bethke Elshtain and Sheila Tobias (eds.), Women, Militarism, and War, Rowman and Littlefield, Maryland 1990.

  • J. Eglin, ‘Women and Peace: From the Suffragettes to the Greenham Women’, in R. Taylor and N. Young (eds), Campaigns for Peace: British Peace Movements in the Twentieth Century, Manchester University Press, Manchester 1987.

  • Carol Flinders, ‘Nonviolence: Does Gender Matter?’ Peace Power: Journal of Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation, Vol. 2, No. 2, summer 2006 (Berkeley). Argues that women are naturally less violent than men, claiming scientific evidence. Available on:

  • C. Foster, Women for all Seasons: The Story of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, University of Georgia Press, Athens and London 1989.

  • Adrienne Harris and Ynestra King (eds.), Rocking the Ship of State: Towards a Feminist Peace Politics, Westview Press, Boulder, CO, 1989.

  • Robert L. Holmes and Barry L. Gan, Nonviolence in Theory and Practice, Part Three, ‘Women and Nonviolence’, pp. 115-172.

  • M. Leonardo, ‘Review: Morals, Mothers and Militarism: Antimilitarism and Feminist Theory’, Feminist Studies, 11, 1985.

  • Jill Liddington, The Long Road to Greenham: Feminism and Anti-Militarism in Britain since 1820, London 1989.

  • Andrea Malin, ‘Mother who won’t disappear’, Human Rights Quarterly, 16, March 1994.

  • Christine Mason, ‘Women, Violence and Nonviolent Resistance in East Timor’, Journal of Peace Research, 42, 2005.

  • Pam McAllister (ed.), Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence, New Society Publishers, Philadelphia 1982.

  • Kate McGuiness, ‘A Feminist Critique of Gene Sharp’s Approach’, in Michael Randle (ed.), Challenge to Nonviolence, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, 2002, pp. 105-31. This appeared first in The Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 30, 1993, pp. 101-15. Also at:

  • Barbara Roberts, ‘The Death of Machothink: Feminist Research and the Transformation of Peace Studies, Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1984.

  • Sara Ruddick, Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace (London 1990).

  • L.K. Schott, Reconstructing Women’s Thoughts: The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom before World War II, Stanford University Press, 1997.

  • Inger Skjelsbaek, ‘Is Femininity Inherently Peaceful? The Construction of Femininity in War’, in I. Skjelsbaek and D. Smith (eds.), Gender, Peace and Conflict (London 2001).

  • Christine Sylvester, ‘Some dangers in merging feminist and peace projects, Alternatives, October 1987.

The ethic of care

  • Virginia Held, The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political, and Global (Oxford 2006).

  • Mary Jeanne Larrabee (ed.), An Ethic of Care: Feminist and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (New York and London 1993).

  • Joan C. Tronto, Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care (New York 1994).

Gandhi and women’s nonviolence

  • Aparna Basu, The Role of Women in the Indian Struggle for Freedom.

  • K. Chattopadyay, Indian Women’s Battle for Freedom (New Delhi 1983)

  • M. Chaudhuri, Indian Women’s Movement (London 1993).

  • J. Eglin, ‘Women and Peace: From the Suffragettes to the Greenham Women’, in R. Taylor and N. Young (eds), Campaigns for Peace: British Peace Movements in the Twentieth Century, Manchester University Press, Manchester 1987.

  • G. Forbes, The Politics of Respectability: Indian women and the Indian National Congress’, in D.A. Low (ed.), The Indian National Congress: Centenary Hindsights (New Delhi 1988).

  • G. Forbes, Women in Modern India (Cambridge 1996)

  • M. Gandhi, Gandhi on women: collection of Mahatma Gandhi’s writings and speeches on women, compiled by Pushpa Joshi. (New Delhi 1988)

  • M.K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj, ch. 9

  • K.D. Gangrade, ‘Gandhi and the Empowerment of Women – Miles to Go,’

  • D. Hardiman, Gandhi in His Time and Ours, ch. 5.

  • Jaya Jaitley, ‘Gandhi and Women’s Empowerment,’

  • Pushpa Joshi (ed.), Gandhi on Women: Collection of Mahatma Gandhi’s Writings and Speeches on Women (Ahmedabad 1988).

  • Sita Kapadia, ‘A Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi: His Views on Women and Social Changes,’

  • Manmohan Kaur, Women in India’s Freedom Struggle.

  • Madhu Kishwar, ‘Gandhi on Women,’ Economic and Political Weekly, in two parts, 5 & 12 October 1985. In SLC.

  • Joseph H. Kupfer, ‘Gandhi and the Virtue of Care’, Hypatia, Vol. 22, No. 3, Summer 2007.

  • R. Mukherjee, Penguin Gandhi Reader, pp.179-203.

  • Sujata Patel, ‘Construction and reconstruction of Woman in Gandhi,’ Economic and Political Weekly, 20 Feb. 1988, p.377. In SLC.

  • V. Rajendra Raju, The Role of Women in India’s Freedom Struggle (Delhi 1994)

  • Tanika Sarkar, ‘The Politics of Women in Bengal: The Conditions and Meaning of Participation,’ in The Indian Economic and Social History Review, Vol.21, No. 1, 1984.

Rosentrasse in Nazi Germany

  • Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, pp.89-90. Brief overview of defiance by non-Jewish wives of Berlin against imprisonment of their Jewish husbands in 1943.

  • Nathan Stoltzfus and Walter Lacquer, Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany. Full-length study of the resistance by women married to Jews within Nazi Germany.

  • Nathan Stoltzfus, ‘Saving Jewish Husbands in Berlin’, in Gene Sharp (ed.), Waging Non-violent Struggle (Boston 2005).

Argentina Mothers 1977-83

  • Silvia Arrom, ‘Women Resist Dictatorship: Voices from Latin America’, Women’s History Review, Vol.11, No. 2, June 2002.

  • Hebe de Bonafini and Matilde Sanchez, ‘The Madwomen at the Plaza de Mayo’, in G. Nouzeilles and G. Montaldo (eds.), The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics (London 2002).

  • Alison Brysk, ‘The Politics of Measurement: The Contested Count of the Disappeared in Argentina’, Human Rights Quarterly, 16, 1994.

  • Margaret Burchinati, ‘Building Bridges of Memory: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Cultural Politics of Maternal memories’, History and Anthropology, 15, 2004.

  • Elsa E. Chaney, Supermadre: Women in Politics in Latin America (Austin and London 1979).

  • Jo Fisher, Out of the Shadows: Women, Resistance and Politics in South America, London 1993.

  • Jane Jaquette (ed.), The Women’s Movement in Latin America: Feminism and the Transition to Democracy (London 1989).

  • Andres Jaroslavsky, The Future of Memory: Children of the Dictatorship in Argentina Speak (London 2004).

  • Andrea Malin, ‘Mother who won’t Disappear’, Human Rights Quarterly, 16, 1994.

  • Maxine Molyneux, Women’s Movements in International Perspective: Latin America and Beyond, Hampshire 2001.

  • Carina Perelli, ‘Memoria de Sangre: Fear, Hope and Disenchantment in Argentina’, in Jonathan Boyarin (ed.), Remapping Memory: The Politics of Timespace, Minnesota 1994.

  • Beatriz Sarlo, ‘Postmodern Forgetfulness’, in Gabriela Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo (eds.), The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics, London 2002.

  • Jennifer Schirmer, ‘The Claiming of Space and the Body Politic within National-Security States: The Plaza de Mayo Madres and the Greenham Common Women’, in Jonathan Boyarin (ed.), Remapping Memory: The Politics of Timespace, Minnesota 1994.


  • Patricia M. Chuchryk, ‘Feminist Anti-Authoritarian Politics: The Role of Women’s Organisations in the Chilean Transition to Democracy’, in Jane Jaquette (ed.), The Women’s Movement in Latin America: Feminism and the Transition to Democracy (London 1989).

  • Rita K. Noonan, ‘Women against the State: Political Opportunities and Collective Action Frames in Chile’s Transition to Democracy’, Sociological Forum, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1995.

Northern Ireland

  • Begona Aretxanga, Shattering Silence: Women, Nationalism, and Political Subjectivity in Northern Ireland, Princeton 1997.

  • M. Ward and M. McGivern, ‘Images of Women in Northern Ireland’, The Crane Bag, 4, 1980.

Women against Nuclear Weapons (especially Greenham Common)

  • Cynthia Cockburn, From where we Stand: War, Women’s Activism and Feminist Analysis (London and New York 2007).

  • M. Green, ‘Women in the Antinuclear Movement’, in G.H. Stassen and L.S. Wittner (eds.), Peace Action: Past, Present, and Future, Paradigm Press, London 2007.

  • B. Harford and S. Hopkins, Greenham Common: Women at the Wire, The Women’s Press, London 1984.

  • S. Hipperson, ‘Women’s Peace Camps 1981-2000’, in J. Kippin (ed.), Cold War Pastoral: Greenham Common, Black Dog Publishing, London 2001.

  • Beth Junor, Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp: A History of Non-violent Resistance, 1984-95, Working Press, 1995.

  • Margaret L. Laware, ‘Circling the Missiles and Staining them Red: Feminist Rhetorical Invention and Strategies of Resistance at the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common’, NWSA Journal, 16, 2004.

  • Micaela di Leonardo, ‘Review: Morals, Mothers, Militarism. Antimilitarism and Feminist Theory’, Feminist Studies, 11, Autumn 1985.

  • Sasha Roseneil, Disarming Patriarchy: Feminism and Political Action at Greenham, (Buckingham 1995).

  • S. Roseneil, Common Women, Uncommon Practices (London and New York 2000).

  • Jennifer Schirmer, ‘The Claiming of Space and the Body Politic within National-Security States: The Plaza de Mayo Madres and the Greenham Common Women’, in Jonathan Boyarin (ed.), Remapping Memory: The Politics of Timespace, Minnesota 1994.

  • Amy Swerdlow, Women Strike for Peace: Traditional Motherhood and Radical Politics in the 1960s (Chicago and London 1993).

  • D. Thompson (ed.), Over our Dead Bodies: Women against the Bomb (London 1983).

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