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Über dieses Buch

The politics of claiming rights and strategies of mobilisation exhibited by marginalised social groups lie at the heart of this volume. Theoretically, the authors aims to foster a holistic and multi-faceted understanding of how social and economic justice is claimed, either through formal, corporatist or organised mechanisms, or through ad hoc, informal, or individualised practices, as well as the implications of these distinctive activist strategies. The collection emphasises both the difficulties of political mobilisation and the distinctive methods employed by various social groups across a variety of contexts to respond and overcome these challenges. Crucially, the authors’ approach involves a conceptualisation of social movements and local mobilisation in terms of the language of rights and justice claims-making through more organised as well as everyday political practices. In so doing, the book bridges the literature on contentious politics, the politics of claiming social justice, and everyday politics of resistance.



Chapter 1. Analysing Justice Claims in the Global South

The condition of marginalization that characterizes certain social groups is one of the main constraints for their active participation in social and political life as well as for their possibility to claim rights. Yet, across different countries and continents, marginal groups do mobilize. This book is about the politics of claiming rights and the strategies of mobilization by marginalized social groups. It brings together debates on contentious politics, rights framing and claiming, and the everyday politics of resistance to open up new questions about why and how some social groups are able to mobilize and achieve impacts despite the structural constraints in which they operate. It focuses on how politically marginalized groups organize themselves, their goals, and the conditions that make social and political mobilization possible. In brief, it explores agency in very challenging circumstances.
Jean Grugel, Jewellord Nem Singh, Lorenza B. Fontana, Anders Uhlin

Chapter 2. Struggles Against the High Cost of Living in Burkina Faso

How do marginalized, vulnerable and resource-poor groups organize to identify shared political aims and mobilize to articulate collective aims and can they succeed? These questions have been under discussion in social movement studies since the 1970s, for example in relation to homeless people (Cress and Snow 1996; Wright 1997) or the unemployed (Bagguley 1991; Croucher 1987). This chapter deals with mobilization by social movements (including social movement-type trade unions) against the high cost of living in one country in the Global South, namely Burkina Faso, during an intense period of food price crisis in 2007–2008.
Bettina Engels

Chapter 3. Demanding Rights in Company-Community Resource Extraction Conflicts: Examining the Cases of Vedanta and POSCO in Odisha, India

Amidst intensified competition for land available to private investors in mining, industrial and commercial agriculture sectors, contests between transnational companies and communities over land are emerging in many countries as a significant domain of social conflict. This chapter examines the cases of two company-community conflicts over land in the Indian State of Odisha, in which communities and their supporters have mobilized to resist proposed new projects, drawing in various ways on rights-based discourses to articulate and support their claims. One conflict relates to the acquisition of land for a bauxite mining project involving the Indian-based and UK-listed company Vedanta, while the other concerns the construction of a mega steel complex by the South Korean company POSCO. We compare the strategies of mobilization and claim-making followed by communities in the two cases, asking why there have been different outcomes in these two conflicts despite striking similarities between them. We argue that the different dynamics and outcomes in the two cases have resulted from (sometimes subtle) differences between the cases with respect to in a combination of three factors: (a) the strength of local solidarity and organizational capacity, (b) the capacity of campaigners to recruit national political and civil society elites in support of community claims, and (c) the extent to which grassroots claims have been supported by transnational mobilization. Taken together, these three factors highlight the central importance of interactions between grassroots mobilization and the political actions of national and international ‘elites’ in shaping outcomes of company-community conflicts.
Kate Macdonald, Shelley Marshall, Samantha Balaton-Chrimes

Chapter 4. Mega Dams and Resistance: The Case of the Three Gorges Dam, China

To international observers of resistance against mega dams, the Chinese peasantry may seem rather passive. China builds dams. It builds lots of them. Time after time the Chinese Government seems to encounter little resistance. Perhaps the most infamous of these constructions is the Three Gorges Project (TGP) on the Yangtze River. It is the world’s largest dam and it was built with seemingly minimal resistance from those it directly affected. The dam was and remains high profile. This megalith of engineering graced the pages of National Geographic in the late 1990s and it captured the attention of the world’s media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and international banks. It also attracted criticism within China and abroad. The contention drew tourists from all over the world on long journeys to say goodbye to a place they did not know. However, for all the outside attention there was another group of people, a large group, who had to move to make way for the project. Some of them resisted and it is their resistance that this chapter explores.
Brooke Wilmsen, Michael Webber

Chapter 5. ‘We Are the Engine of the Enterprise, and Yet, We Are Like Its Illegitimate Children’: The Contract Workers’ Movement in Chile and Its Claims for Equal Labour Rights

In 2007, few people anticipated that Chile would witness its major labour mobilization since the reinstatement of democracy in 1990. In June that year, contract workers of CODELCO, the country’s main state-owned copper-extracting company, mobilized and staged a 37-day-long strike that caused considerable economic losses. The fact that the protests were staged by contract workers, previously deemed unorganized and short of a unifying discourse, took most external observers by surprise. It contrasted sharply with the dramatic expansion of subcontracting arrangements, and the fragmentation of the trade union movement in the preceding three decades. These protests also showed that although the segmentation of the labour market according to job status had created tensions between CODELCO’s permanent staff and its contract workers, the latter were sufficiently organized to put pressure on the state giant on their own. Indeed, as Sehnbruch (2010, p. 145) notes, the increase of subcontracting arrangements has backfired; that is, when contract workers get together, they can paralyse an entire industry.
Sofia Donoso

Chapter 6. Situating Women’s Rights in Everyday Life: The EMPOWER Women’s Human Rights Report

This chapter explores why it is that women’s organizations seek to engage rights-based approaches in contexts where activists are conscious of the limitations of human rights activism for delivering meaningful outcomes for women. I explores this puzzle through the example of the Malaysian women’s advocacy group EMPOWER who produced the 2011 Malaysian Women’s Rights Report Equality Under Construction (EMPOWER 2012). EMPOWER (or Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor) is a feminist activist non-governmental organization (NGO) engaged in a range of programmes and advocacy activities focusing on issues broadly related to women’s empowerment—including activities such as working to build women’s political participation and supporting poor women working in the informal sector. The economic and political focus of EMPOWER’s grassroots work is reproduced in its advocacy strategy (often undertaken in collaboration with other women’s NGOs) that have focused on issues such as developing a women’s political agenda and, as is discussed in this chapter, developing campaigns and initiatives around women’s human rights and democratic governance in Malaysia more generally (http://​empowermalaysia.​org/​ n.d.).
Juanita Elias

Chapter 7. Transnationalising Dissidence Beyond the Global South: Arab Activists in Occupy Oakland

The chapter draws on what W. J. T Mitchell (2012, p. 18) describes as the “temporality of contagion” between the Arab uprisings and the Occupy Movement. It makes a case for studying Arab immigrant activist networks as political subjects who can provide us with insights into how methods of contention diffuse across Arab and Occupy protest sites. It examines whether – and if so, how – Arab activists in the USA drew on Occupy to advance their claims and connect the roots of discontent that stimulated both protest waves. More specifically, it looks at Arab contentious politics at one Occupy site – Occupy Oakland (OO), and identifies the frames and tactical repertoires Arabs drew on to relate both protest movements. In addition to analysing how Arab activists negotiated their ‘political agency’ notwithstanding scarce resources, the chapter hints at the numerous constraints and existing fractures that weakened their politics of claims-making. The chapter adds to the scholarship on the ways in which immigrants shape political struggles in cityscapes, turning the latter into transnational political fields. Furthermore, it seeks to integrate Arab migrant communities into the literature on social movement theories. Although they are firmly integrated in the Diaspora literature, Arab communities have been only superficially addressed as actors in transnational movements.
Tamirace Fakhoury*

Chapter 8. Claiming Justice in the Global South

Our book began with the principal objective of exploring the scalar politics of how marginalized social groups demand justice in the Global South. We presented six empirical case studies, which demonstrate how organized and everyday forms of resistance emerge and are played out. These forms of resistance take vastly differing approaches to building coalitions, solidarity networks, and political alliances; but they share the fact that all seek to challenge the hegemony of powerful institutions and investments. The movements we discuss here also utilize, albeit in varying degrees, a rights-based approach to defend their mobilizational practices. In this concluding chapter, we now bring together the main insights from these case studies. We stress six principal themes that have emerged from the cases: (a) the importance of the form of subordination and inequality for understanding mobilization; (b) the triggers that give rise to activism and the factors enabling justice claims to be made; (c) the varied forms of contentious politics and everyday resistance; (d) the scalar politics of local-national-transnational linkages; (e) the value of rights-based claims; and (f) the extent to which justice claims have been successful. Based on a comparative analysis of these cases, this chapter suggests some more general patterns and arguments. We recognize that research on justice-based social mobilization by apparently powerless groups is still limited in number and for this reason, we end the chapter by setting an agenda for future research on struggles for justice in very difficult contexts.
Anders Uhlin, Jewellord Nem Singh, Jean Grugel, Lorenza B. Fontana


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