Call for Panelists (EBAAS 2018): Emotions and American Protest

We are recruiting panelists for a session on the role of emotions in 20th century U.S. protest and activism, as part of the upcoming EBAAS conference in 2018.

In his seminal The Art of Moral Protest, James Jasper calls on scholars to pay more attention to the variety of emotions in social movements: “First, individuals have emotional allegiances and experiences that help propel them into protest. Fear, dread and an accompanying sense of threat are key motives. Grief could also play a role, either following the loss of a loved one or as a more general sense of cultural loss. An alternation between shame and anger drives much political conflict. […] Anger and outrage will almost always play a part, as will pre-existing negative and positive affects toward symbols, places, individuals, and groups.” Although protest is inherently an expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo, it’s not just negative emotions that motivate people. Joy, enthusiasm, and the wonder of social change have historically attracted people to participate in collective events, campaigns, and marches. But how do activist organisations cultivate feelings like joy in protest, and how important is this to the group’s success?

On the other hand, Jasper, along with sociologists Jeff Goodwin and Francesca Polletta in Passionate Politics, also notes that these motivating emotions do not directly correlate with what is expressed by activists during protests campaigns. “Calm resolution” and “serene determination,” they argue, is what wins over opponents. This has been seen in successful protest movements in the 20th century, notably the 1950s and 1960s black civil rights movement, but how does emotional expression function in protest movements in which convincing adversaries is not the primary goal? In addition, what role do gendered and racialised expectations of emotions play in the creation and perceptions of emotions in protest?

This panel will explore these questions with regards to the African American freedom struggle, and late 20th century urban community activism. We welcome abstracts from those whose work addresses both emotion and any kind of U.S. activism in the last century, including but not limited to: feminist and LGBT organisations, right-wing protest campaigns, labour movements, anti-war campaigns, and race and ethnicity-based protests.

Please send your a 250-word abstract of your proposed paper and a short biography as soon as possible to timo.schrader@nottingham.ac.uk. The deadline for proposals for the conference is October 1.

Best wishes,
Rosemary Pearce and Timo Schrader (University of Nottingham)

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