April Carter, Howard Clark, Michael Randle (Eds.): A Guide to Civil Resistance: A Bibliography of People Power and Nonviolent Protest, Vol. 1

By Agartan, Kaan | Capital & Class, February 2016 | Go to article overview

April Carter, Howard Clark, Michael Randle (Eds.): A Guide to Civil Resistance: A Bibliography of People Power and Nonviolent Protest, Vol. 1


Agartan, Kaan, Capital & Class


April Carter, Howard Clark, Michael Randle (eds.)

A Guide to Civil Resistance: A Bibliography of People Power and Nonviolent Protest, Vol. 1, Merlin Press, London, 2013; 257 pp: 97818542510844, (pbk) 10 [pounds sterling]

It is a common experience to feel overwhelmed when entering a new field of research, especially if the field in question has been well established for some time, and has produced a considerable body of work to sift through. An urgent need arises to find a 'reliable guide' that would not only reveal the contours of the broad canvas of the subject matter, but also provide a glimpse of different positions, past and present tensions, and significant debates that have emerged and waned in time within this very literature. A Guide to Civil Resistance: A Bibliography of People Power and Nonviolent Protest (Volume 1) is one such guide for any scholar and/or activist whose primary focus is 'people power' and 'nonviolent protest' within the larger field of social movements. In an ambitious undertaking, the editors bring together numerous samples of scholarly and journalistic work that span a vast temporal and geographical landscape of civil resistance. The book offers a rich annotated bibliography of online sources and little-known studies, as well as key reference works that investigate unarmed, nonviolent struggles for social and political change in almost every corner of the world in the post-1945 era.

The book is a revised and expanded edition of an earlier (2006) publication entitled People Power and Protest Since 1945: A Bibliography of Nonviolent Action (Housmans). The new edition, like the previous one, outlines in separate sections different forms of nonviolent political struggles against oppressive, authoritarian and sometimes military-controlled regimes, and is further divided along a geographical taxonomy within each section. As was the case in the previous edition, the editors provide a brief summary of particular political developments in the region and in the individual countries under scrutiny in each section, followed by brief annotations for almost every reference provided. Overall, the sources in the bibliography are carefully selected, and comprise an impressively rich collection of books, peer-reviewed articles, journalistic accounts, memoirs, pamphlets and websites. There are, however, several enhancements that come with the new edition: First, numerous studies on nonviolent protests published after 2006 were included in the book, which also required the preparation of a second volume (no publication date has been announced for this at time of writing). Such an expansion in breadth makes the whole project even more indispensable for those in the field. Second, there is an accompanying website (http://civilresistance.info) which maintains the book's bibliography, in addition to other sources including texts of classic and out-of-print books, web links to important institutions and organisations focusing on the study and promotion of nonviolence, and regular updates from online news sources reporting on nonviolent protest around the world. The dynamic nature of the website allows for more flexibility in searching the database by author, title, year, country/region or any other keyword, and as such, enhances the utility and convenience of the project for a broader group of scholars and activists.

More importantly, the editors introduce a significant conceptual improvement in the new edition by replacing the term 'nonviolent action with a more inclusive 'civil resistance' to refer to collective actions that aim at political and social change without using violence as a strategy. The latter term, in the editors' usage, comprises not only nonviolent actions but also 'unarmed resistance', which by definition may involve minimal defensive strategies causing disruption, or unobtrusive everyday resistance. Such a conceptual modification not only refines the definition of 'people power' to reflect more contemporary and everyday tactics of popular opposition that would have otherwise been left out, but also allows the editors to make organisational improvements in the book. …

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